On Board With... Business Development Director Kristi Ross-Patchin

Transit California interviewed Kristi Ross-Patchin, Business Development Director of the California Transit Association.  Kristi has served in this role since January 2022, where she leads business development and membership strategy for the Association.

Transit California:  As the Business Development Director for the Association, one of your key responsibilities is building and retaining membership.  What are some related activities that you are especially excited about, and what are some of your priorities for future years?

As the Business Development Director for the Association, building and retaining membership is indeed a critical responsibility. There are several related activities that I'm particularly excited about, as all three will continue to significantly impact the growth and success of the Association.

First, the Association has prioritized creating a diverse and inclusive membership base. We are actively reaching out to Disadvantaged Business Enterprises (DBE) and partnering with organizations that promote diversity in our field. An inclusive community fosters innovation and allows for a broader range of perspectives and ideas.

Second, the Association regularly conducts member feedback surveys to understand needs, preferences, and pain points. Listening to our members is crucial for making informed decisions and continuously improving our offerings. This approach ensures that our priorities align with the interests of our members.

Lastly, building strategic partnerships with other organizations, both within our industry and related fields, is a priority. Collaborative efforts result in cross-promotion, expanded reach, and access to additional resources, all of which boost membership growth and retention.

Transit California: The Association’s Knowledge Hub is a library of free downloadable policy information and analysis. How and why did you make this resource available to Members?  

The Knowledge Hub is such a wonderful resource, because it brings the members and advertisers together to create an interactive resource library that provides members access to targeted, high-demand content for their professional development.  The Association had been looking for a way to allow our business members, outside experts and vendors within the transportation industry to provide content including white papers, guides, infographics, case studies, industry analysis, and other resources. The Knowledge Hub allows a member to download content and it allows the author to follow up with those interested in their content.

Transit California:  You also oversee the Association’s Career Center, which connects transit job seekers with industry opportunities. It also includes a portal for career planning, interview coaching, and resume review services. What aspects of the Career Center are you particularly proud of, and do you anticipate rolling out additional services in the future?

The Career Center really does have a lot to offer our members. It not only lets our members find the right talent with minimal outreach, but it allows employers to expose their jobs to our Association’s amazing talent pool. Our Career Center partner, YM Careers, is continually improving and finding new ways to help employers and applicants and we will continue to bring those opportunities to our members, especially with the talent shortage our members are facing. The Career Center will help our members overcome this challenge and build a future-proof and diverse workforce. 

Transit California:  One of your leadership areas is planning for sponsors and exhibitors for the Association’s Fall Conference & Expo, the annual marquee event which includes solution-driven dialogue and high-level networking opportunities. What have been some key challenges and successes for planning the Expo post-pandemic, and what are you especially looking forward to this year?

Post-Covid has had a number of challenges, from enticing conference attendees to deal with testing and Covid verifications, to working with exhibitors and sponsors where I repeatedly kept saying (and hoping) it seems like we are getting back to normal. Last year’s Conference and Expo was amazing. The energy, the innovation and the networking were exactly what so many of us had been looking for. This year, I think the Expo will be even better. We have added demos so that our exhibitors can actually take their clients on the road to experience their product. That is an amazing opportunity and I am excited to see what the attendees think.

Transit California:  You have built a two-decade career in membership services and development, including serving as the Director of Membership and Administration at the California Dental Association, Executive Director at California Women Lawyers, and Director of Membership and Accreditation at the California Alliance of Child and Family Services. What are some lessons you learned with previous experiences in these organizations that are serving you at the Association?

Whether I am working for dentists, lawyers, or service providers, all of the membership associations bring together people who work in the same industry and share challenges, interests and goals. I have learned that those challenges, interests and goals look different to different people and as a member of the staff, my task is to be sure to listen to the members and be of service to achieve the mission of the Association.

Transit California: What are some of your most rewarding experiences working with Association members and staff?

As the Business Development Director, I have the privilege of spearheading new initiatives and programs. The satisfaction comes when these endeavors lead to significant positive changes within the Association and its members. Whether it's launching a larger Conference and Expo, revamping our member benefits to better meet their needs, or introducing a game-changing service, knowing that our efforts are making a difference is incredibly rewarding.

Not to mention, working closely with dedicated staff who are passionate about the Association's mission and its impact on the transportation network is immensely rewarding. The collaborative spirit and shared determination to achieve the Association’s goals create a sense of purpose and unity within the team. While not always easy, it’s deeply satisfying to overcome challenges with the support of the team and the resilience of our members. Whether it's navigating through uncertain times, adapting to industry changes, or addressing member concerns, the journey of growth and improvement strengthens our resolve and reinforces the value of our work.

Overall, the most rewarding experiences working with Association members and staff revolve around the shared sense of accomplishment, the impact of our initiatives, and the relationships formed within our vibrant community. These experiences fuel our passion for continued growth and excellence, driving us to make a lasting and meaningful difference for all stakeholders involved

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