What are your primary job responsibilities?
I coordinate and manage logistics and/or registration for APTA’s conferences and workshops, and manage the budget for some of these meetings. My responsibilities include everything from menu selection—a favorite is reception food—to audio-visual needs or room setups. This kind of work invariably involves many changes onsite. That’s one thing about meeting planning: you can plan to the smallest detail beforehand, but something always comes up and you have to adjust very quickly.
Among the events I support are the Legal Affairs Seminar, Legislative Conference, Sustainability and Public Transportation Workshop, International Rail Rodeo, and Public Transportation and Universities Conference.
From time to time, I also solicit corporate sponsorships for certain events such as receptions. And I was responsible for the Products & Services Showcase at the 2012 APTA Annual Meeting in Seattle.
As I said before, meeting planning sees its fair share of glitches—the most frequent being that microphones don’t work or PowerPoint presentations project as a solid blue screen. But I remember one time in particular when I’d checked into my hotel room and the doorknob fell off and I couldn’t get out—until I reattached it ...
From time to time, we are called upon to perform “other duties as assigned,” so for the past few years I’ve served as the substitute Vanna White, handing out the AdWheel Grand Award trophies!
Do you have direct contact with APTA members?
Frequently, members need assistance in registering online for conferences, and when that happens I walk them through the process. Often, I am one of the first faces they see when they arrive at the registration desk for a conference, and then I’m asked to resolve such issues as ensuring that the companion for a member with physical challenges is properly credentialed or that the special dietary requirements of a member are met.
Given that I work with members daily, I get the chance to put faces with names. When they check in at registration, sometimes all I need is the member’s last name and I immediately recognize them. They either like that instant recognition—or they are slightly taken aback.
What initiatives, projects, or programs have you worked on at APTA that you have taken particular pride in completing?
With the importance of the Legislative Conference, I definitely take pride in managing and completing that event—seeing it from the planning phases through to conclusion. While this conference takes place locally, here in Washington, DC, one might think that that makes producing it easier. But that is just not the case. Every conference wears the cloak of an “away game,” regardless of the actual location.
How did you “land” at APTA?
I answered a Washington Post ad for an administrative assistant post in government affairs at APTA. While I readily admit that my interest in this position was not motivated by a focus on public transportation, after having been a customer and seeing things from the other side of transit, I now have a better understanding and a much fuller appreciation of this industry.
Fairly soon after my initial work in the Government Affairs Department, I moved to Member Services. And after awhile there, I was promoted to my current position of meeting planner. I have to say, I never expected to be working in this industry, but since I’ve been at APTA, I now refer to my coming here as a serendipitous event.
How long have you worked here?
Seven years in October.
What professional affiliations do you have?
International Association of Exhibitions and Events and Hospitality Industry Professionals Network.
Could you tell us something about yourself that might surprise us?
I do great impressions—particularly of select APTA staff! I love to read, especially political thrillers and crime novels. You can’t go wrong with John Grisham, James Patterson, or Nelson DeMille. I’m now starting to read classic American literature as well. I’m a huge movie fan, some might even say fanatic—just as long as they aren’t musicals. I average about one a week, alone, because I don’t want anyone talking to me while the movie is playing.
And, I put out a fire at APTA headquarters. It was a small fire (in the microwave) but there were flames. Yes, small, but a fire is a fire.
Make sure you see Adam Martin’s video, now that you've read this!