Eyes on The Prize: COMTO Columbus Reflects on Winning Chapter of The Year Back to Back
Interview with Quincy Howard, President, COMTO Columbus
DBE Program Administrator, Central Ohio Transit Authority (COTA)
Each year, the pinnacle of the National Meeting and Training Conference is the highly-anticipated Industry Awards dinner. The Industry Awards recognize outstanding leadership by chapters, partners, businesses, agencies, and individuals. We are highlighting COMTO’s previous Industry Awards winners and are starting with COMTO Columbus, the “Chapter of the Year” award winner in 2018 and 2019.
How long have you been a member of COMTO?
I’ve been a member since 2014 when the chapter was reinstated, so I’m a charter member. I have been president for one year.
How does it feel to win the Chapter of the Year Award – not only once, but two years in a row?
It’s an incredible feeling to be recognized for everything that we’re doing as a chapter in our local community.
What makes COMTO Columbus stand out?
We have a very diverse membership and we like thinking outside the box. We have attorneys, caterers, florist, engineers, business owners, electricians just to name a few. We do a lot of outreach in our community including activities at food pantries. We’re trying to implement a local internship program, much like COMTO National’s. We also go into the school systems here in Columbus for mentoring sessions and mentoring programs. We try to identify companies that are influenced by transportation. If they are influenced by transportation, they can be influenced by what our organization is doing and can help us move our initiatives forward in Central Ohio area and create more change.
How has COMTO Columbus evolved over the years?
We’ve always felt that COMTO could have a lot of influence in the community – not only in transportation, but in the minority community and business community as a whole. So that’s the approach we use when we’re thinking of new programs or different activities and events to get our name out. We send out our scholarships information to a lot of school systems; and in turn the school systems have begun to call us looking for the information. We’re truly becoming a name in the community for not only transportation, but for diversity and inclusion and scholarships.
What is one of the chapter’s unique partnerships?
Last year we approached the Columbus Zoo. I met one of their board members, and we were talking about what the chapter was doing in the community. She had heard about our program because she attended one of COMTO Columbus’ scholarship luncheons. She said that the Zoo wanted to get more involved in the diverse community. We partnered with them, and they became a member of COMTO. They sponsored not only our golf outing which raised over $10,000 for scholarships, but they also hosted our end-of-the-year member appreciation party. We had a great time and they are excited about what we’re doing together. We hope this will be a long-lasting relationship. When you think about the Columbus Zoo, you don’t initially think about transportation. But they saw what we were doing in the community already and thought we were a viable entity on which to focus their money, time and efforts. It’s been a great partnership and we’re honored to have them as members.
What advice would you give to chapters thinking of submitting for Chapter of the Year?
Go for it! I think that all chapters have to expand their horizon on what COMTO means to them and what it means to their community so that they can affect change. Our previous president said he wanted our chapter to affect change in our neighborhood. We have a lot of different groups, but we come with a different mindset that we can not only go into our school systems and into the churches. We can go almost into anywhere in the area of business because transportation affects everything. And if transportation affects everything, we feel that our chapter can do the same. If you’re doing that in your community, absolutely take a chance and apply for the Industry Awards.