Communications and Marketing Department
What are the three job elements you focus on the most—your primary responsibilities
I do overall communications support for our advocacy efforts, which are targeted to the Capitol Hill audience and the general public.
Specifically, I manage the association’s Research, Communications, and Advocacy program (RCA). In this program I promote new research produced by APTA’s Policy Department. We leverage this research to promote the benefits—and the importance—of funding public transportation. I also focus on conducting proactive public relations and advertising outreach that showcases our legislative efforts. In addition, l put together special events targeted to Hill and national audiences that focus on issues related to our advocacy program. I also manage advertising, special events, public relations, and our social media outreach, which includes the public transportation Facebook, Twitter, and blog.
Do you have direct contact with APTA members? If so, please talk about the two most recent times you’ve helped out a member.
We involve our members in many of our advocacy communication efforts. One recent effort came during the APTA Rail Conference: We held a nationwide press conference that focused on a new APTA survey, conducted by the Mineta Transportation Institute, which showed that 74 percent of the general public supports increased funding for public transit. APTA Chair Flora Castillo and SEPTA General Manager Joe Casey participated in that event. On an annual basis, we conduct a media radio tour during the APTA Legislative Conference where we involve 25 or more general managers. They highlight the importance of federal funding to their systems and discuss their local ridership numbers.
What initiatives, projects, or programs have you worked on at APTA that you have taken particular pride in completing?
I worked in conjunction with the Policy Department to develop the Transit Savings Report. We release that report on a monthly basis to educate individuals on how much they can save if they take public transportation and live with one less car. It has been used in a number of different venues. I’m particularly proud of that because it’s been used by policymakers on Capitol Hill, the U.S. Census Bureau, and the Mineta Institute.
How did you “land” at APTA? How long have you worked here? Have you held other jobs in the public transportation industry (besides working at APTA)?
I’ve been here since 2007. I worked in other modes of transportation: the American Trucking Association, the American Automobile Association. It just seemed natural to work here because of my belief in multimodalism. I’m a strong believer in public transit, and that’s why it’s great to be able to work on something in line with my core values in regards to where this country should be going.
What professional affiliations do you have?
I participate in workshops and other webinars with the Public Relations Society of America, the American Society of Association Executives, and we work collaboratively with a number of transportation advocacy groups in town such as the U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s Americans for Transportation Mobility group.
Could you tell us something about yourself that might surprise us?
I participated in a media interview that went viral. When I was working for AAA, I was discussing the latest gas prices with an MSNBC anchor. During the interview, a guy behind me started washing the window, and the crew and the anchor thought it was hilarious. The video wound up being shown on Keith Olbermann’s Countdown, the Today Show, and even Jay Leno’s Tonight Show. It just kind of had a life of its own, and it happened accidentally.
Make sure you see Mantill Williams' video, now that you've read this!