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Meet Samantha Smith!

Samantha Smith
Program Manager-Technical Services
Member Services Department

What are the top job elements you focus on the most—your primary responsibilities?

The majority of my work involves various aspects of the APTA ­Standards Program. Mainly, I serve as the document manager, making sure that each document goes through all the required steps and meets all ­pre-set deadlines. Each one must undergo a public comment period, during which anyone is welcome to review and provide feedback.

Next we send it to APTA agency chief executive officers, so they can have the appropriate parties within their agencies review its content. Finally, the APTA Planning and Policy Committee gives its approval, going through due ­process. I maintain records of these steps and filing of previous revisions of our older documents.

The other major aspect of my job involves interacting with our members and other volunteers through working groups and other forums to address industry issues and, if needed, draft a document under the Standards Program.

Do you have direct ­contact with APTA members? If so, please talk about the most recent times you’ve helped out a member.

I have some contact with ­members, mostly attending various meetings to discuss industry issues. Most recently, I was able to present my preliminary research at the 2013 APTA Rail Conference regarding changes in passenger weights and how they affect rail car designs. I was thrilled to see a large turnout and get the discussions going on how we need to address these issues collectively.

I really enjoy listening to and participating with these experts. It gives me great insight into how the various aspects of public transit work and how we can continue to enhance it as long as we keep the open forum discussions going.

What initiatives, projects, or programs have you worked on at APTA that you have taken particular pride in completing?

My training and passion is in the area of continuous improvement, so I always get a great deal of satisfaction when I can take something people are using now and make it more efficient, helping to make their day-to-day lives both easier and more productive. I’m currently working to revamp and improve the Standards Program website. While it’s not finished just yet, I love the challenge of learning a new software platform, Microsoft SharePoint.

The project also addresses the ­various nuances that arise with ­creating and processing a document as it becomes a published standard. Each working group has a unique style of how to approach the creation of a document, and individual APTA staff members may want to track different aspects.

We work together to make sure we are using the best practices of a Standards Development Organization and that the balance between data collection and tracking never overtakes the end goal of the program: to ­provide our industry with standards and ­recommended practices.

How did you “land” at APTA? How long have you worked here?

I’ve been with APTA a little less than a year now, and the association is my introduction to the public transit industry. I found APTA through a job site while I was working on my graduate degree in engineering and technology management—a combination of program management, systems engineering, and business administration—and jumped at the opportunity to work in a position that would let me apply what I was studying.

What professional affiliations do you have?

I’m a lifetime member of Tau Beta Pi, the engineering honor society.

Could you tell us something about yourself that might surprise us?

I’m a major foodie, and this has only gotten worse since I have moved to D.C. I’m always ready to try a new restaurant or cuisine with my friends. I’ve been adventurous and willing to try unique foods all my life. I’ve had the chance to eat jellyfish in ­Wisconsin, kangaroo in Atlanta, and crickets here in DC . . . I wouldn’t ­recommend jellyfish.

Make sure you see Samantha Smith’s video, now that you've read this!

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