Cynthia Bush Owens
What are the three job elements you focus on the most (your primary responsibilities)?
I support the APTA Policy Department as we work with policy, statistics, planning and advocacy, and sustainability; provide program/project support such as older publication scanning, preparing and posting documents to the website; and assist the department in meeting its strategic goals as we move ahead to implement them for the benefit of the APTA membership.
Do you have direct contact with APTA members? If so, please talk about recent times you’ve helped out a member.
Early in my APTA career, I knew many members of the association leadership. In the past few years, I haven’t had the same contact because I travel only as needed.
I see people each year at the APTA Legislative Conference in Washington. For example, I provided support during the 2012 Legislative Conference when members of the Executive Committee and APTA staff were invited to a meeting at the Eisenhower Executive Office Building next to the White House. I’d always wanted to go inside that building, and this event gave me the chance to do it.
What initiatives, projects, or programs have you worked on at APTA that you have taken particular pride in completing?
With Art Guzzetti, vice president-policy, I assisted APTA’s TransitVision 2050 Initiative for the public transportation industry; the Framework for the Future for APTA and the industry; and the APTA Governance Committee. These efforts all affect the future of public transit and the governance committee implemented the association’s new governance structure. Being a part of this thrills me because it’s concentrating on the future of this industry and I want to have my support and participation linked to this effort.
With the late Melvin Howard, I helped to create and implement the American Public Transportation Foundation Scholarship Program and the APTA Awards Program.
How did you “land” at APTA? How long have you worked here?
After graduating from West Virginia University, I worked in the Vice President’s Office of Institutional Advancement. Later I visited the Washington, DC, area and decided to set up a few interviews; I was offered two jobs and accepted APTA’s offer in May 1985—I have 27-1/2 years of service!
I’ve worked at APTA through two moves and three different office locations: 1225 Connecticut Ave. NW, then APTA became the first tenants at 1201 New York Ave. NW, and now at 1666 K St. NW.
Could you tell us something about yourself that might surprise us?
I met Rosa Parks in March 1997—definitely a highlight in my life—when APTA presented her with its first-ever Lifetime Achievement Award. I was one of 17 people who attended a luncheon with her at Washington’s Union Station. She signed a book for me that she authored.
Another thrill was touring the tunnels of the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority’s (WMATA) Maryland Red Line Glenmont Extension in 1998. WMATA opened the tunnels to the community a few months before beginning revenue service. My son and I were in a group of about 30 people who had the opportunity to walk the tracks inside the tunnel.
In June 2011, I decided to become a healthier me. With that in mind, I exercise regularly and have lost almost 65 pounds. Sometimes I will walk two miles between Union Station and the APTA offices before or after work to maintain fitness.
At the suggestion of others who have seen my efforts, I have instituted “Walking Wednesdays” (lunchtime walks) and “Workout After Work” on Tuesday evenings at the fitness center located in our office building.
My husband, Bob, and I have one son, Brandon, and one dog, Scout. Brandon will graduate in May 2013 from Norwich University, Northfield, VT, and will be commissioned as a second lieutenant in the U.S. Marine Corps. He will be the only African-American commissioned in the corps in his graduating class.
Make sure you see Cynthia Bush Owens' video, now that you've read this!