Amy Reiter, Wisconsin Physical Therapy Association
IB’s Professional of the Week is the premier way to meet Dane County’s professionals. This week features Amy Reiter, executive director, Wisconsin Physical Therapy Association.
What are the most challenging and rewarding aspects of your job and why?
Four days before our 2017 state conference, a tornado hit our building! I remember driving to the office after the storm and seeing a large portion of our roof had blown away. Power and cable lines were down in our parking lot and fire trucks were parked everywhere. I coordinated emergency building repairs, notified our board and membership, and posted social media updates all while sitting in my car in the parking lot next door. Luckily, the emergency repairs allowed us to continue working and four days later our conference went off without a hitch.
I tell that story to explain what it’s like to be the executive director of an association with a small staff. It is a challenge to be responsible for the small things while also keeping my focus on the association’s strategic plan. But that’s also what makes my position so rewarding. I am surrounded by passionate professionals who are devoted to the mission of providing amazing care to the people of Wisconsin. Whether it is a legislative win, record-breaking continuing education conference, or growing student membership, I get to be part of achieving every goal — shoulder to shoulder with my board of directors — and moving the WPTA forward.
Who do you look up to or admire in business and why?
I was a commercial lending assistant for Derek Moehring at Capitol Bank early in my professional career. I admire Derek because he taught me how to be an effective leader. I learned from him that when a person feels heard and appreciated, they will shine. I express my sincere gratitude to my staff every day, and because of him I believe a big part of being a leader means helping others realize their full potential.
What has been the high point of your career so far?
My first year as executive director of the WPTA was an amazing experience. The previous executive director retired after 20 years in the position. She was well liked, high performing, and retiring sooner than anticipated, so the board was not quite ready for new leadership.
A fresh set of eyes in the position, a strong work ethic, love of technology, creativity, and a sense of humor helped set the stage for my success. The end result was a smashing performance review, increased non-dues revenue, strong membership and social media growth, and most importantly, gaining the trust and confidence of the board. I learned that when you step into a role you need to make it your own. Confidence in my skills and abilities along with a strong focus on the association’s strategic plan is what made my first year so rewarding.
Thinking back on your career, what advice would you give your 21-year-old self?
For career growth, making connections and building strong relationships is just as important as your education. Attending networking events and meeting people, inside and outside your industry, is invaluable. My career has taken a rather winding path and I am amazed by how often I have the opportunity to connect with colleagues from past positions.
What would you say are the best things about living and working in Dane County?
In Dane County I am never far away from both a hiking trail and a Broadway-caliber theater performance. There is a strong focus on connecting communities, which is evident in the endless array of activities, from sporting events and art shows to concerts and food festivals. There is always something to do and people to share in the experience.
Do you have any secret talents or abilities that people would be surprised to discover?
I have a 1967 Chevy Nova, so I know more than your typical person about muscle cars, but in terms of a hidden talent, I really enjoy shooting sporting clays. I have a 12-gauge O/U shotgun and visit Milford Hills Hunt Club to shoot their sporting clays courses whenever I can. As a younger woman, I am usually in the minority at car shows and shooting ranges. I hope my participation in these hobbies helps other people realize that if you find yourself in the minority, either because of your hobby or career choice, don’t let anyone make you feel like you don’t deserve to be there. You do — 100 percent.
What are your guilty pleasures?
Drinking red wine, listening to the Rat Pack, and watching black and white movies are a few of my guilty pleasures. Holiday, with Katharine Hepburn and Cary Grant, is one of my favorite movies. After a long week, I will pour myself a glass of cabernet, relax on the couch, and watch that movie to unwind.
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