"APTA is a voluntary member organization; there's no law that says you have to join APTA." He continued, "When I was being interviewed for my job 15 years ago, one of the things when I was asked about my goals and what I wanted to do with APTA, one of the things I said that solicited a laugh, but I was dead serious about it, I wanted APTA members to enthusiastically pay their dues.
"I'm really proud of the fact that when I came here there were little over a thousand members and today there are 1,550 members so we were able to grow the membership," Millar stated. "In the last three years there have been a lot of associations in Washington that with the recession, have lost members. We actually gained.
"I'm very proud of that. Apparently APTA members understand the value of belonging to APTA even in very tough times. They could have saved money in their budgets, but they understood it was an investment."
And to continue APTA's growth, he said there's an internal program called APTA is a Learning Organization. "We're trying to give our employees, to get their skills sharp and up-to-date and give them the opportunity to really help us improve APTA," he explained. "I can speak well, I can do a lot of things, but if my 90 employees don't feel it, don't believe it, don't do their part, what I do means nothing because I work through them."
The First Lifetime Achivement Award
Millar's time at APTA has provided him with many memorable moments. One was when APTA first created the Lifetime Achievement Award and the very first award was given to Rosa Parks. "To have an opportunity to host an awards ceremony and to have Ms. Parks come and be willing to accept our award, that was an important part of history and it was a thrilling moment for me," said Millar. He added that of all the things they've done at APTA, that will remain on of the real highlights.
Preserving Transportation History
The Smithsonian Institute had decided after many decades that they were going to revamp their transportation exhibit and APTA was asked to come in as a major donor and work with them. "They had contacted Rose Sheridan," Millar explained. "Rose brought her creativity, her contacts, to help identify ways we could help and how we could leverage that.
"We didn't have a lot of cash we could give them but we were able, by working with our members, through in-kind service and some cash, to qualify as one of their million dollar-level donors." He continued, "So for the next 20 years or more, our name will be right there ... as millions of Americans will pass through that exhibit and see things related to public transportation that wouldn't have been there if we weren't there."
Meeting the Clintons
In September, 2008, Millar was going to testify before the Senate Banking Committee, something he's done many times in his career. "We go in and I remember seeing six chairs but only five nametags," Millar said.
"I dutifully sat down behind my nametag and there's a vacant chair next to me and the hearing was about to begin.
"All of a sudden, I'm sitting in the front of the room and there's this rusting around," he said, "and Hillary Clinton sits down next to me." This was just after she had completed her campaign, Barack Obama had been nominated, and she was there testifying as a senator from New York.
"It was just a thrill," Millar stressed. "I went up to her and I said, 'Hi, I'm Bill Millar with APTA,' and I got a chance to thank her for what she did and how my wife and I were so proud of the campaign she ran.
"In her long life of public service, she just looked at me like every great politician can and it was clear I was the only one who mattered in her whole life," he recalled with a laugh, "and she said, 'Thank you and be sure to thank your wife, too.'"
After the TEA-21 legislation was passed in 1998, Millar had been invited to the bill signing in the old executive office building. Millar explained, "When it was signed, I was invited to come in to a small room and there was President Clinton, towering over everybody, and like every great politician, he grabbed my hand, looks at me and said, 'Bill, I'm so glad you helped us do this for America.'" And from that meeting Millar was able to get a nice picture with him and a nice letter back at the office from him, thanking APTA for its efforts.'