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The Source for Public Transportation News and Analysis October 19, 2012
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Meet Martha Coffin!

Martha Coffin
Executive Assistant to the Vice President
Member Services

What are the top job elements you focus on the most—your primary responsibilities?
I’m the primary support person to Kathy Waters, APTA vice president-member services. I also provide primary support to Fran Hooper, consultant to the Business Member Board of Governors (BMBG), and help as needed to other Member Services staff. I strive to give support to all staff members within the Member Services Department.

Here’s an example of the unique service I’ve been called on to provide: During the APTA/UIC High-Speed Rail Practicums held in the winter of 2010 in Washington, DC, Chicago, and then Los Angeles—during what we in Washington called “Snowmageddon”—I had to work during the night canceling and rebooking flights for speakers, a few members, and staff members. The fun part was that I could do it in my pajamas while looking out of my picture window, watching the snow come down, and down, and down. This would have been one of the most challenging requests I have had, but I’m sure it isn’t the only one.

One of my priorities is providing additional help to Member Services staff when their administrative assistants are away from work. In that same frame, assistants who are busy with special projects can come to me for backup help to keep their department workflow progressing.

Do you have direct contact with APTA members? If so, please talk about the most recent times you’ve helped out a member.
One recent contact was helping a member to verify that her membership dues had been paid because she wanted to register for the Annual Meeting. When staff in the meetings section of our department are away from the office attending meetings, I try to keep up with member questions that may arise in their absence.

I receive phone calls from APTA members on a daily basis regarding a variety of topics. For example, callers may request information regarding a specific member; ask who to contact about meeting registration; and seek information on “Buy America.” I can provide the APTA meeting information the caller needs rather than overburdening the meetings staff, and filter calls to other departments. I can tell the caller about committee meeting times and locations for business members.

What initiatives, projects, or programs have you worked on at APTA that you have taken particular pride in completing?
When I first came to APTA, we mailed out the BMBG “Business in Motion” newsletter in large envelopes. I tinkered with the design so we could fold the issues and mail them in smaller envelopes, saving postage for APTA. Now, we’re just beginning to release “Business in Motion” electronically.

How did you “land” at APTA? How long have you worked here?
I came in as a temporary employee and worked for four months. They made a permanent position for me after that. I’ve been there for 11 years now.

I started out working for the director of member services and after a few years was promoted to my present position, working for the vice president of member services.

Have you held other jobs in the public transportation industry (besides working at APTA)?
No—and yes!

Could you tell us something about yourself that might surprise us?
My grandfather and his two brothers started and owned the Yellow Cab Company in my hometown of Portsmouth, OH. My mother was their dispatcher and occasional cab driver when one of the drivers called in sick. After about 20-some years, my grandfather and his brothers wanted to retire and sold the cab company.

At that point, my grandfather and two uncles started up the first bus company in my hometown. It was not a success—people didn’t like taking the bus as much as they did calling a cab.

Make sure you see Martha Coffin's video, now that you've read this!



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