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Meet Michael Fimmano!

Meet Michael Fimmano
Government Affairs Department

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

As a legislative analyst, one main focus of my job is to track federal legislation and regulatory changes that could impact the public transportation industry. This often means I follow the actions of congressional committees with jurisdiction over issues of interest to APTA, along with specific members of Congress who like to champion our issues.

Members of the Government Affairs staff monitor congressional hearings and communicate information from some of these hearings to the APTA membership. We will reach out to APTA ­members, asking them to actively engage with their members of Congress about specific causes such as long-term sustainable funding for public transportation—especially if their representatives are on specific important committees.

I also help prepare testimony on behalf of APTA, draft Legislative Alerts and other communications to the ­membership, research transportation policy and meet with congressional staff to help advocate for APTA’s interests.

Tell us about recent interactions you’ve had with APTA members.
One project I am currently working on involves engaging business members, encouraging them to contact their members of Congress and make the business case for public transit spending in states that aren’t thought of as transit-heavy—highlighting manu­facturing jobs and suppliers to the industry. We want to show that public transit spending does have value in many states where public transit service may not be as prevalent.
I took an active role in the operations of the APTA Legislative Conference in March. I helped with several sessions, both in the planning process and helping to organize on the day of the event. I was part of the group that briefed the speakers; we brainstormed as a team to come up with panel ideas as well as session topics.
What initiatives, projects or programs have you worked on at APTA that you have taken particular pride in completing?
I’m very pleased with our ­business member Capitol Hill fly-in last December, which we held just before the Legislative Committee meeting. It was a great success—we held 100 ­Capitol Hill meetings in one day.

We had members fly in from all around the country. Some of them knew their way around Capitol Hill; they have active government affairs teams and have had previous relationships with their members of Congress. We also had some participants who had never been to Capitol Hill before. APTA provided them with materials and set up meetings for them. As APTA staff, we introduced these business members to the priorities facing public transportation.

These business members then went on to advocate for the industry and explain how long-term transportation funding and a secure funding source would benefit the local district of their elected representatives. These meetings helped a lot of members of Congress put a face, a name and a business behind this legislation. Personal contact humanizes the issue for a lot of them, demon­strating a direct impact within their congressional districts.

This is important because thousands of bills get introduced in each Congress, hundreds of which will pass either the House or the Senate. Putting a person with a story behind our priorities is a good way to help House members and Senators understand their significance.

After the fly-in, we received great feedback from members of Congress, their staffs and the business members who participated. We also heard from many business members who had not participated but were interested in ­participating in future fly-in days.

How did you land at APTA? How long have you worked here?
I joined the staff on Nov. 3, 2014, the day before Election Day.

I graduated from college with a degree in political science and my first job, before coming to APTA, was on the staff of a member of Congress who served on the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee. I began as an intern and eventually worked my way up to having my own legislative portfolio, advising the congressman on certain issues that would come before the House for a vote, or the co-sponsorship of legislation that was a priority for him.
Members of committees like T&I have to focus on transportation issues, which allowed me to get involved in public transit and learn about the issues that affect the industry as a whole. Now that I’m at APTA, I see that working for lawmakers offers a different perspective from advocating for members, but both of them are incredibly rewarding.
Could you tell us something about yourself that might ­surprise us?
I actually lived in Ireland for six months. As part of my under­graduate education, I participated in a study abroad program at the National University of Ireland in Galway. I lived there with 23 other students from my school. It offered me a great opportunity to see some parts of the world I had not yet seen and to live full-time in a different culture. Because few of us were ­comfortable driving in a country we barely knew, especially on the opposite side of the road, we rode buses quite frequently while we lived in Ireland.   
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