HomePeopleMcDonald Receives 2021 Grandolfo Memorial Award at STN EXPO Reno

McDonald Receives 2021 Grandolfo Memorial Award at STN EXPO Reno

RENO, Nev. — Pamela McDonald, a 34-year-veteran of the student transportation industry, was presented with the 2021 Peter J. Grandolfo Memorial Award of Excellence on Monday during STN EXPO Reno.

McDonald was described as a leader in her field and has held many positions in student transportation. Linda Grandolfo, Peter’s widow, told the attendees that McDonald has retained a constant desire to learn and always puts safety and children first. Despite McDonald retiring last year, Grandolfo said she will always have a special place in her heart for school transportation.

Lisa Nippolt, western regional manager for award sponsor Q’Straint/Sure-Lok, said that she was honored to present the award to someone who has grown to be her friend over the years.

From left to right: Lisa Nippolt, western regional manager for award sponsor Q’Straint/Sure-Lok; Pamela McDonald, 34-year-veteran of the student transportation industry, and Linda Grandolfo, Peter Grandolfo’s widow.

School Transportation News President and Publisher Tony Corpin commenced the opening of the 2021 STN EXPO Reno conference by discussing the company’s core values: to provide information to student transportation professionals to help keep their operations safer and more efficient.


He noted that while everyone in the audience has outside noise in their life and at work, this conference provides an opportunity for attendees to step back and to refocus their energy on the core values that are withheld in their organizations.


He noted that Peter Grandolfo, who passed away 15 years ago, championed for student transportation, in particular students with special needs. When he passed, Corpin said STN in conjunction with Q’Straint/Sure-Lok wanted to memorialize Peter’s contribution to the industry with an award.


Linda Grandolfo, Peter’s widow, noted that over time fewer and fewer people in attendance know Peter. She took time to show pictures of him and discuss his passion for the industry. He was never a school bus driver, Linda said, though she noted he came into the industry through science and education. He became a sought-after speaker at conferences, especially during STN EXPO Reno.


The safe transportation of all children was always his priority, Linda said. “His memories still remain with us today, and that is why I am so thankful we have this award,” she added.

McDonald started her career as a school bus driver at Orange Unified School District in California in 1985. She attended her first STN EXPO Reno conference in 1997 and said she remembers attending classes there taught by Peter Grandolfo.

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McDonald was studying law enforcement and became a school bus driver to earn some money in between classes. Five years into working as a driver, a dispatcher positioned opened, which paved the way for McDonald’s career path in leading the district’s transportation operations. While McDonald did obtain her associate degree in police science, she kept getting promoted at Orange Unified and couldn’t say no to the continuing opportunities.

“And the police office career went bye-bye,” McDonald previously told School Transportation News in a leadership article last year. “I was making the same amount of money as police officers, and I didn’t have to work nights, weekends or have bullets shot at me.”

She retired as the director of transportation and mechanical services for Orange Unified and served as president of the California Association of Pupil Transportation Officials from 2009 to 2011 and again in 2019. Since 1995, she also served as chair of the state transportation professional council for the California Association of School Business Officials.

“I am honored to receive the Peter J. Grandolfo Memorial Award of Excellence at the 2021 STN Expo,” McDonald said. “I remember sitting in Peter’s classes and programs at STN and enjoying his passion for school transportation. I appreciate joining the list of distinguished colleagues who were selected for this before me.”

(Photo courtesy of Vincent Rios Creative.)

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