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The Source for Public Transportation News and Analysis September 7, 2012
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Meet Helene Brett!

Helene Brett
Member Services

What are your primary job responsibilities?
The major part of my job is membership recruitment and retention.

APTA uses many different methods of recruitment. For example, some are spontaneous: say, a company may want to exhibit at an APTA conference and becomes interested in joining.

We mine information from various sources, such as conferences attended by APTA staff members; non-members who exhibit at EXPO; referrals from members and from our staff as they travel; reviewing trade publications; and monitoring advertisements and obtaining registration lists from industry events. We keep our eyes open for prospects and constantly review the information resources that cross our desks.

We’ve done broad outreach to the APTA membership, such as member-get-a-member campaigns: they talk to their contractors and industry colleagues in the field.

As far as member retention: I work with our members on any aspect of their membership from questions about dues to benefits to how they can get involved in APTA committees or access information available on the website.

With public transit agencies that join APTA, the process is about helping them understand how the association supports the industry’s critical activities such as monitoring and influencing legislation, standards development, regulatory issues, and best practices in operations.

I really serve our members as their liaison, their advocate, with the organization. If any questions come up about their involvement, I’m the point person for them to start with.

Customer service is very important in this process. I want to make sure that our members get what they need in a timely and responsive manner. We want to meet—and exceed—their expectations.

How did you “land” at APTA? How long have you worked here?
I answered an ad in The Washington Post. The job matched my prior experience and was a good fit. I will have worked with APTA for 33 years in December.

Tell us about some of your recent interactions with APTA members.
It’s always exciting to talk to organizations that aren’t familiar with what we do and demonstrate to them the value of APTA membership, what they can gain by joining. I can hear their growing excitement as we talk and interest in the benefits I’m explaining.

Examples of recent interactions with members include conversations on how to determine what their dues are based on and how to compute the specific amount, and how they can establish their passwords to gain access to APTA web resources. More complicated discussions occur when an organization is acquired or merges with another member company. These situations affect the way an organization’s dues will be computed in the future as well as how the corporate structure is presented in APTA’s database records. I often assist new members who want to register for an upcoming conference but have questions about the entire registration process, including how to showcase their products.

What initiatives, projects, or programs have you worked on at APTA that you have taken particular pride in completing?
 I’ve been involved in every APTA database conversion through the years, from the initial IBM software selection up to what we’re using now, and I’ve seen how these changes have expanded our members’ ability to learn, communicate, and share information with each other.

I’m particularly proud of the online member directory. It allows APTA members to easily access contact information about member organizations and their staff and ensures that the information is as current as possible. In contrast, the old printed directory would become out of date quickly and did not reflect new members who joined throughout the year.

APTA’s online Buyers’ Guide is another very valuable resource that benefits our members every day, giving them broad exposure. While anyone—not just APTA members—can refer to it and access the members with their specialty products/services listed there, only members can appear in the guide.

Over the years I’ve worked with the Member Services Committee to develop a mentoring program for new APTA members. This is a tremendous opportunity for our more seasoned members to collaborate and share a wealth of information with new, incoming members.

What professional affiliations do you have?
American Society of Association Executives.

Could you tell us something about yourself that might surprise us?
My first love is historic architecture. I worked at the National Trust for Historic Preservation just after I graduated from college. I love classical music—I play piano. And I am a proud grandparent raising my 9-year-old granddaughter.

Make sure you see Helene Brett's video, now that you've read this!

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