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The Source for Public Transportation News and Analysis January 27, 2012
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Meet Clarissa Peterson!

Clarissa Peterson
Web Manager
Information Technology
What are the three job elements you focus on the most (your primary responsibilities)?
My job is to find the ways we can use online tools best to meet our business goals—whether through helping our members or staff do their jobs more efficiently or by promoting public transportation to the world at large. Three of the main areas I focus on are:

* Keeping all web site content up-to-date.

* Working to improve the functionality of our web properties (such as coming up with new content or making it easier to access existing content).

* Working with vendors on large web initiatives, such as redesigning PublicTransportation.org (last year) and the TCRP web site (this year).
Do you have direct contact with APTA members? If so, please talk about the two most recent times you’ve helped out a member.
Yes, I often help members when they have web site questions. For example, we recently changed how we do abstract submissions for the Call for Papers process. A member was having difficulty completing the online submission form, so I walked him through the entire process on the phone.

Also, at the Bus and Rail Conference Planning Subcommittee meetings last month, I made a short presentation and distributed a handout on how to complete abstract reviews online so reviewers could better understand this process.

An important part of our job in the IT Department at APTA is that, as the world relies more on technology, we need to be sure our members are able to use the tools we make available to them and provide help if they are having problems.
What initiatives, projects, or programs have you worked on at APTA that you have taken particular pride in completing?
There are several efforts I’m particularly proud of.

We completed an overhaul of the Meetings & Conferences section of apta.com. We’ve been able to add a lot of new information to make it much more useful—from details about the different types of registrations to letting people know what benefits they would receive from attending. Having a more informative web site lets potential attendees make better decisions as to whether a conference or workshop is right for them.

We’ve converted a lot of paper forms into online processes, such as the nominations for executive committee and board of directors as well as APTF scholarship and Leadership APTA applications.

I’ve also done a lot of work in finding ways to make our web sites more accessible to people with disabilities. This is important not only because it benefits people with disabilities, but also because the changes will benefit all of our users by making the sites easier to use. This concept of universal design is an important area of focus throughout the public transportation industry.
How did you “land” at APTA? How long have you worked here?
I started at APTA two years ago. I had worked for APTA’s IT director, Jeff Popovich, at a previous job, and it just happened that he was looking to fill the web manager position at the same time I was looking to move to a new job.

I’ve been here two years, although I’ve worked in the web field for about 10 years.
Have you held other jobs in the public transportation industry (besides working at APTA)?
No, but I’ve worked at other nonprofits and advocacy organizations, and there’s a lot of overlap. For example, my last job was at a civil rights advocacy organization, so I know how a lack of access to public transportation can affect many aspects of people’s lives. I’m also very interested in the connections between public transportation and sustainability, and when I arrived at APTA I was excited to learn about APTA’s Sustainability Commitment.
What professional affiliations do you have?
Usability Professionals Association (UPA), Interaction Design Association (IxDA), and DC Information Architects.
Could you tell us something about yourself that might surprise us?
I once rode in Al Gore’s motorcade when he was vice president.

Make sure you see Clarissa's video now that you've read this!

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