September 2010

Women In Transportation: Pamela Boswell

by Claire Atkinson, Senior Editor

Born in Fort Dix, N.J., Boswell grew up in Central Islip, N.Y. on Long Island. She attended Clark Atlanta University in Atlanta and received a bachelor's degree in political science.

Before coming to the American Public Transportation Association (APTA), Pamela Boswell worked for 14 years at the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, holding nine positions during her time there. She started at the Port Authority in a year-long management training program after graduating from Duke University with a master's degree in public policy.

"I had a chance to work in different areas — everything from human resources planning to an operational assignment at the Port Authority bus terminal, where I ran the customer call center," Boswell says. She also worked in the finance and state relations department during that year.

Born in Fort Dix, N.J., Boswell grew up in Central Islip, N.Y. on Long Island. She attended Clark Atlanta University in Atlanta and received a bachelor's degree in political science.

Boswell was hired at APTA to the position of director of program management services, the department she now heads. Her responsibilities include conference programming, workshops, Web-based educational services and management of the American Public Transportation Foundation. "We support the people who make it happen every day and that's kind of the mantra that my department uses," she says. "I really love the commitment of people working in our industry, the relationships — the human aspect of it."

Boswell says her skills in policy analysis have had a lot to do with her career success. "Being able to come up with a recommendation on an issue and bringing that analytic perspective into everything that I do," she says, has been key. That, and a sense of humor.

One of the most significant projects she is working on is supporting members and the industry on strategic workforce development issues, a focus which was initiated nearly a decade ago. As a result of a blue ribbon panel workforce development study, the organization's Transit Vision 2050 initiative and development of its new five-year strategic plan, Boswell says APTA has been able to enhance services for members focused on retaining current employees and attracting new entrants to transit's workforce. "How do we position public transportation as a place where people want to work?"

The organization looked at legislative issues, obtaining funding, image, higher education, partnerships, youth outreach and performance metrics. "The latter area is critical," she says. "We know there are training services our members need; the important question is what's the return on investment?"

Boswell is also proud of her involvement at the Port Authority with a project that focused on providing alternative services for the homeless near Port Authority facilities. "At the facilities, our general managers were entering into contracts with different social service agencies, but there didn't seem to be a coordinated response," she explains.

Boswell served on a task force that negotiated capital investment and operating assistance funds from the City of New York for two drop-in centers, one at the bus terminal and one in lower Manhattan near the World Trade Center. "We were able to make sure that at all of our facilities, there were services in place, even if it was a contract for [social service organizations] to conduct outreach and take people to shelters to access other services," she says. "We were able to address the concerns that we had, in terms of providing safe and efficient services and access to transportation, but we also had a sense of social responsibility."

Boswell serves on the board of Travelers Aid International and is a member of the Women's Leadership Council of United Way of the National Capital Area. She is also involved with alumni organizations at Clark Atlanta and Duke, and with Ivy Vine Charities. Her focus with these groups, she says, is education, through helping to raise money for scholarships. She also enjoys attending cultural events.

 

 


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