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Professional Truck Driver Institute’s Lee J. Crittenden Memorial Award Presented to Long-time Employee Marlene Dakita
Recipient described as the “glue” holding the organization together
The Professional Truck Driver Institute, Inc. (PTDI) has awarded its 14th annual Lee J. Crittenden Memorial Award to Marlene Dakita, the organization’s long-time certification coordinator. The ceremony was held earlier today at the Gaylord Palms in Kissimmee, Florida, during the annual convention of the Truckload Carriers Association (TCA), the organization that manages PTDI.
The award, sponsored by Delmar, Cengage Learning, is given to a person who exemplifies the overall mission of PTDI, for which Lee Crittenden was a staunch supporter until his death in April 1998. PTDI raises the quality of truck driver training courses by establishing and promoting minimum training standards, and by certifying courses that meet those standards.
“Delmar, as a partner of PTDI and TCA, is proud to once again sponsor this prestigious award,” said Kristen Davis, director of transportation industry learning solutions at Delmar, Cengage Learning. “I have had the pleasure of working with Marlene for many years, and she truly exemplifies dedication and support of the trucking industry in all that she does.”
Dakita, a staff member for the Truckload Carriers Association, began working with PTDI in 1996, shortly after TCA started managing the organization. Although she works under a director, she is widely described as a “one-person business” that runs the entire PTDI operation, from meetings to school records to communications. Her responsibilities include managing the pre- and post-certification process for schools applying for PTDI course certification; administering the standards, policies, and procedures and ensuring their consistency; and managing the ongoing certification requirements for 61 schools in 21 states and one Canadian province.
David Money, CDS, CDT, chairman of PTDI’s Certification Commission and the product manager – transportation for Liberty Mutual Insurance Company, Loss Control Advisory Services, said, “To anyone who deals with the organization, Marlene Dakita is the face and voice of the Professional Truck Driver Institute. She is the past, present, and future of the organization, the glue holding together our history, our standards, and our organizational development. Her attention to detail and grasp of PTDI’s goals has provided direction for schools, committees, and directors. In reality, without her as its anchor, PTDI might not exist. She is PTDI.”
Terry Burnett, CIC, CRM, chairman of the board for PTDI and the president of Burnett Insurance Corp., of Little Rock, Arkansas, praised Dakita’s team spirit and ability to keep the big picture in mind while working tirelessly to further the cause of the organization. “She was invaluable to me as we reviewed and updated the entire PTDI skill, curriculum and certification standards,” he said. “Even with the monumental amount of material we had to cover, she worked effortlessly and meticulously to help maintain continuity throughout. Her writing and organizational skills were a driving force behind us being able to complete and present a project of which we could be proud.”
Personally, Dakita is described as a person of the highest integrity. She is committed to quality, efficiency, follow-through, and providing services to the schools. “Marlene’s long-standing dedication, commitment and attention to quality have been indispensable to PTDI’s enduring success for both the organization itself and for the entire community it serves,” said Virginia DeRoze, former program director for PTDI and the 2002 recipient of the Lee J. Crittenden Memorial Award.
Dakita holds a bachelor’s degree in education from Ohio State University. She taught for five years prior to relocating to the Washington, DC, area. She worked for the Film, Air and Package Carriers Conference for 16 years before joining the staff of TCA/PTDI.
The presentation of the annual Lee J. Crittenden award keeps Crittenden’s memory alive and serves as inspiration to others who get involved with truck driver issues. Crittenden helped many important industry activities get their start. He was passionate about promoting a positive image of the nation’s professional truck drivers, and was largely responsible for the creation of America’s Road Team. He also initiated a scholarship program for drivers who participate in the National Truck Driving Championships. His greatest industry achievement is largely believed to be his part in founding PTDI (then known as the Professional Truck Driver Institute of America), where he served on the board of directors and also as the finance chairman during the Institute’s infancy. Crittenden worked for CitiCapital, the company that was instrumental in creating this award along with the Truckload Carriers Association.