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The Source for Public Transportation News and Analysis February 10, 2012
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Meet Cheryl Pyatt!

Cheryl Pyatt
Program Manager-Educational Services
Program Management and Educational Services Department

What are the job elements you focus on the most (your primary responsibilities)?
The general areas I work in are workforce development and youth outreach. Specifically, I’m a staff advisor for the Higher Education Subcommittee, which comes under the umbrella of APTA’s Human Resources Committee. We create mentoring and internship opportunities in the industry, as well as matching up students with potential job offers and promoting diversity within the industry.

Regarding youth outreach, we promote public transportation as a viable career—from kindergarten through 12th grade. I help organize an annual youth conference, our second annual youth summit—“Generation Green on Board: A Youth Summit to Advance Public Transportation”—National Transit Career Day, the Garrett Morgan video symposium, and career fairs.

Other responsibilities? They include:
* Supervising all higher education students at our major conferences. While they can register for free, I assist them with that process.
* Managing the entire call-for-papers, abstract notifications, and speaker selection process for the bus and rail conferences.
* Handling professional accreditation (CEUs) for our technical conferences. One of the several credentialing bodies we work with is AICP, the accrediting body of the American Planning Association.
Do you have direct contact with APTA members? If so, please talk about the two most recent times you’ve helped out a member.
What immediately comes to mind is helping members with the guidelines of the abstract submission process. I advise them on what we’re looking for to have an abstract approved; the topics of the moment, because they change every year; and the importance of keeping up with deadlines.

In New Orleans [at the 2011 APTA Annual Meeting and EXPO], I helped a young new member who was struggling with the program—trying to figure out where to go, what sessions to attend. So I highlighted some of the sessions I thought he might want to attend—after talking with him to find out what he did in the industry. And I always tell members who ask me what sessions they should go to—to make sure they attend “This is APTA”—so they can learn more about the organization. 
What initiatives, projects, or programs have you worked on at APTA that you have taken particular pride in completing?
I’m particularly proud of our Youth Summit—because we just added so much to our first program. We even had several students from Hawaii, so our teen population was more diverse.

I won a grant from FTA that helped support the event, arranged a White House tour as well as a tour of the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority, and put together a “meet and greet” with DOT Secretary Ray LaHood and FTA Administrator Peter M. Rogoff.

Several APTA business members were so impressed with this program that they have already pledged significant funds toward our next youth summit.

Along the same lines (of working with youth), we completed a YouTube project this year.

We received approximately 60 videos from young professionals working in different careers across public transit—from marketing to accounting to HR to operations. We highlighted 20 up-and-coming “stars” and created a 7-minute video that was shown in New Orleans.

The point of the video was to illustrate the diversity of both people and careers in transit—and it can be used for recruiting purposes, by companies, as well as within the school system for career opportunities. 

How did you “land” at APTA?
I was working at HNTB when a current APTA staffer informed me there was an opening within the association. I came in as an executive assistant and was eventually promoted to program manager—educational services.

How long have you worked here? Nearly 5 years.
Have you held other jobs in the public transportation industry (besides working at APTA)?
Yes, HNTB—for almost 2 years.
Could you tell us something about yourself that might surprise us?
I have a daughter in college … AND … I was a cheerleader in high school, often the “top” of the pyramid.

Make sure you see Cheryl Pyatt's video, now that you've read this!

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