PLOVER, Wisc. — The three finalists for the Women In Trucking Association’s (WIT) 2023 Driver of the Year award have been revealed.
The fourth annual award recognizes outstanding female professional drivers “who lead the industry in safety standards while actively enhancing the public image of the trucking industry,” according to a news release.
The judging panel includes: Erin Bergman, senior manager, talent acquisition, Walmart; Tim Ridley, talk radio show host; and Ellen Voie, president and CEO of WIT.
The winner will be announced at the Salute to Women Behind the Wheel event hosted by WIT on Friday, March 31, at the Mid-America Trucking Show in Louisville.
The finalists are:
Mary (Candy) Bass
Bass is a company driver for Transport Designs, Inc. based out of Burnsville, Minnesota. Bass has been a long-haul professional driver for 50 years, accumulating 6 million accident-free miles, according to WIT.
In 2016, Bass was awarded the TA Petro Citizen Driver award. Recipients of this award exhibit citizenship, safety, community involvement and leadership. A Nashville TA truck stop is named the Candy Bass Travel Center in her honor. In 2023, she was named a Top Woman to Watch in Transportation by Redefining the Road, WIT’s official magazine.
Bass is a lifetime member of WIT and Owner/Operator Independent Drivers Association (OOIDA). She is involved in numerous charities, including St. Christopher Foundation, Hats for Heroes, Special Olympics, Trucker Buddy and Charities for troops. At 78, she is still driving long haul across the United States while encouraging and mentoring other women in the trucking industry.
Cooper is a professional driver for Penske Logistics. The daughter of an owner/operator, she enlisted in the military upon graduating high school and served as a lead convoy driver in Iraq and Afghanistan in the mid-2000s. She then ran her own LLC as an owner/operator for six years before transitioning to driver roles with Midwest Logistics and Penske Logistics. Cooper supports her fellow drivers as a ride-along trainer, certified Worklete Champion and role model, according to WIT.
“A passionate advocate for working moms, Cooper played a key role in the implementation of nursing policies that improve the experience of new moms behind the wheel,” the WIT news release noted. “Supervisors and colleagues praise Cooper’s positive attitude, dedication to safety and commitment to work-life balance.”
Cooper said she “absolutely love(s) trucking and can’t imagine doing anything else in life. I hope to show women that you don’t have to do the normal 9-to-5 job — you can do anything you set your mind to and be proud of it.”
McFarland is a consummate driving professional with an expert knowledge of the transportation industry, according to WIT.
“She exudes pride in her profession through her unshakeable dedication to safety and customer service,” according to the news release.
Her current position is with Leonard’s Express, but she also honed her talents previously with Holman Transportation and Apex, where she achieved the Hard Work & Dedication Award, Excellent Performance Award (Holman) and the Safe Driver Award twice (Apex).
This year, McFarland will be honored with Leonard’s Express Million Mile Award for more than 1 million safe miles with the company.
McFarland is an active trainer for women entering the industry and mentors both men and women. She has a passion for helping new women drivers set up for career success, according to WIT.
“McFarland takes that same level of work ethic and integrity to her home life as a wife, mother, grandmother and sole provider for her household,” according to the news release. “Through hardship and family illness, she doesn’t falter, balancing family needs with professional reliability and responsibility. She currently lives in Fruitland, Idaho with her husband, Richard.”
The Trucker News Staff produces engaging content for not only TheTrucker.com, but also The Trucker Newspaper, which has been serving the trucking industry for more than 30 years. With a focus on drivers, the Trucker News Staff aims to provide relevant, objective content pertaining to the trucking segment of the transportation industry. The Trucker News Staff is based in Little Rock, Arkansas.