Government Issues

2013 Women In Transportation: Virginia Miller

Posted on September 24, 2013 by Janna Starcic, Executive Editor

Miller shown with then-Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa at APTA’s 2012 Annual Awards ceremony, says she is proud of her work managing the annual event.
Miller shown with then-Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa at APTA’s 2012 Annual Awards ceremony, says she is proud of her work managing the annual event.
Virginia Miller

Director, Media Relations, American Public Transportation Association,

Washington, D.C.


Despite dreams of growing up to be an astronaut, an archeologist, a dancer, and at one time, an Olympic gold medalist for swimming the backstroke, Virginia Miller decided she wanted to be a social studies teacher, with a stretch goal to be a Congresswoman. She pursued her goal to be a teacher as a government major at Smith College before switching to a comparative religion major, to help her “figure out what life is.”

In her mid-twenties she got a position working for WGBH-TV, the top PBS station in the country at the time, known for producing such shows as NOVA and Julia Child’s cooking specials. It was here she was introduced to the communications industry, developing voiceover scripts, clips and other duties helping with show promotions.

Next she moved to New Hampshire, and in her first foray in the transportation industry, was hired as the public affairs manager for AAA New Hampshire. She was also the registered lobbyist for the association, representing 100,000 people. Having won every political battle that she fought, including a highway safety mandate restricting twin trailer access, Miller’s boss told her that she should work on campaigns.

Less than a decade later, she was hired as a paid staffer working on then-Gov. Bill Clinton’s New Hampshire primary campaign. She was charged with canvassing Nashua, the second-biggest city in the state, developing the campaign routes and finding volunteers. Her ingenuity shone through with the development of voter information packets, something the campaign hadn’t used before, as well as its first literature piece. She describes her time on the campaign as an amazing experience. Although exciting, it was grueling work.

“It really tests you and what you are made of and what your commitment is,” she says.

Her work on the campaign led to political appointment positions in the Department of Commerce, as public affairs director for a presidential public-private initiative that developed hybrid and fuel cell technologies — groundbreaking at the time — with the domestic automakers. In the fall of ’97, Miller moved to the Federal Highway Administration, where she sometimes worked as a traveling press secretary for Secretary of Transportation Rodney Slater. She was charged with handling the press during Boston’s Big Dig scandal.

“This was one of the most challenging press assignments in my life,” Miller says.

In her current position as director of media relations for American Public Transportation Association (APTA), she is the lead person working with the media, where she not only responds to requests for information or interviews, she also pitches story ideas to the media. Miller works closely with all the media relation professionals at the transit systems. Another part of her job includes managing the APTA Awards, which honors top public transit individuals and organizations in North America as well as organizing the national Dump the Pump campaign, which she started. Miller is quite proud of her work on both of these projects and remembers fondly when an attendee once said the APTA Awards were like being at the “Oscars.”

Faced with numerous deadlines on a daily basis, Miller says her job is a juggling act at times. Despite these challenges, she finds it rewarding.

“I know that my work in placing national media stories has made a difference in advancing public transportation,” she says.

She is proud of her work building the media relations community within the transit industry, which was nonexistent when she first began at APTA. Reaching out to people one at a time, she started building relationships and connecting them with each other. “Now we have a great community of people who are helpful to each other, and knowing that I was instrumental in making this happen is especially rewarding.”

Outside of work, Miller enjoys traveling to ancient sites around the world.

“I was in Egypt a month before the revolution and saw the pyramids, the Sphinx and the Temple of Isis.”

View comments or post a comment on this story. (0 Comments)

More News

Foxx unveils $98B budget to expand safe, clean transportation options

The budget reflects an ambitious 30-year vision for the U.S. DOT to take the U.S. “Beyond Traffic,” toward a transportation network that matches the changing geography of where people live and work and fosters innovation and adapts to evolving technology.

FTA issues Agency Safety Plan proposed rule, Proposed National Safety Plan

Both are statutory requirements first authorized by Congress in MAP-21 Act in 2012 and reauthorized in the Fixing America’s Surface Transportation Act in 2015.

President Obama plan would provide $32.4B boost for transportation

Proposal calls for a $10-per-barrel fee on oil production to fund public transit annually, with another $10 billion going toward new federal funding streams for cities and states that cut carbon emissions from their transportation sectors

Added enforcement leads to FRA’s highest-ever penalty collection rate

For Fiscal Year 2015, the agency will collect 75% of all civil penalties it issued to railroads for violating federal safety regulations — a 6% increase over FY2014, and the largest percentage rate ever collected by the agency.

NTSB's Most Wanted List focuses on technology

The list calls for promoting both the availability of collision avoidance technology in highway vehicles and the completion of rail safety initiatives to prevent accidents. The list also calls for strengthening occupant protection in all modes of transportation

See More News

Post a Comment

Post Comment

Comments (0)

More From The World's Largest Fleet Publisher

Automotive Fleet

The Car and truck fleet and leasing management magazine

Business Fleet

managing 10-50 company vehicles

Fleet Financials

Executive vehicle management

Government Fleet

managing public sector vehicles & equipment

TruckingInfo.com

THE COMMERCIAL TRUCK INDUSTRY’S MOST IN-DEPTH INFORMATION SOURCE

Work Truck Magazine

The number 1 resource for vocational truck fleets

Schoolbus Fleet

Serving school transportation professionals in the U.S. and Canada

LCT Magazine

Global Resource For Limousine and Bus Transportation

Please sign in or register to .    Close