PT Interviews: Kim Jackson, IPI's Exceutive DirectorPT Interviews:Kim Jackson, IPI's Executive Director
Kim Jackson was named Executive Director of the International Parking Institute in January. She had held the position of Interim President for nearly a year. She has been with the IPI for nearly a decade in various positions. While at the IPI, she has worked with all aspects of the organization, having run training programs, the annual conference and seminars, and technical and information services, and she has been editor/publisher of the Parking Professional magazine.
PT caught up with Jackson in her office in Fredericksburg, VA. Her office reflects her history in the parking business, from her beginnings as head of parking at Rutgers University to her 10 years of travels with the IPI.
PT: You were Interim President for nearly a year. What did you accomplish during that period?
Jackson: I felt that it was inappropriate to make major changes or start new programs until it was clear in what direction the board wished to head. At the time of my temporary appointment, we were four months from our major trade show in New Orleans, and there were training programs and other issues that were set. I felt it was my job to make them successful, not set policy. The first year was
difficult. I was uncertain as to what the board was going to do, so I put my head down and did my job day by day. I am going now into the best of times. I will take the IPI with me.
PT. Where are your taking it?
Jackson: I am determined to move slowly but with focus. There is no rush to make quick changes; however, on the global vision, I think we need to bring the IPI in concert with the rest of the transportation infrastructure. I have a great concern as to the vision the public has of the parking industry, and generally, it's not good. This makes it difficult to recruit good people. Most parking pros in the public sector have strong management backgrounds, but may not have parking expertise when they take over the position.
PT: How will you do that?
Jackson: I think we need a two-fold approach. First, we will continue to have the IPI meet the needs of professionals through training, networking and communications, plus work to bring the image of the industry to a level where quality young people will look to parking as a career path. We need to recognize that parking is a part of the transportation infrastructure; it is an important extension of transportation, whether auto, bus, air or mass transit.
By beginning to link parking to transportation, I see a way to give future parking pros more alternative career paths. In most cities and colleges and universities, the parking manager also has responsibility for transportation, at least the vehicular part. It is important to remember that these folks are also responsible for major construction in the area of garages. They are deeply involved in fleet management, enforcement, budgeting, personnel and the rest.
PT: What about new members? How will you reach out to the industry?
Jackson: First we need to determine what the IPI really does for the different membership types and ensure that they are getting the time and money's worth. Then we need to promote those things that bring value to the IPI membership. In the next five years, I hope, with the concurrence of the board, to reach out to more of the public -- and private -- sectors, including other associations in transportation and engineering.
This will be an evolving process taking months to plan and years to execute. I don't expect to be able to implement a plan before working with the board through the spring and into the IPI convention in Fort Lauderdale. We will be discussing the future of the IPI and its long-range goals.
There are literally 10,000 potential members in the cities, hospitals, higher ed and airports of our nation, plus all the private-sector parking owners and operators who are all welcome to the IPI family. We will begin to reach out to them. I think potentially broadening the scope of the IPI will increase the value of many of those parking pros and show them that we are worth the money, time and their participation. We want to ensure that the IPI has the resources to provide them the training, networking and information they need.
PT: Any specifics?
Jackson: This means surveys, information-gathering, and then planning and implementation. Of course, in my spare time, there are the current activities to oversee, including the upcoming show in Fort Lauderdale, working with the Intertraffic/Parking Industry Exhibition, and our ongoing CAPP and publication programs.
My goal is to reach out to all organizations and related industries, shows and programs. The IPI is not in competition with anyone. We just want to make the parking industry better. Better for the public, better for the people employed in parking, better for the manufacturers.
The only way to do that is to keep an open mind, and an open door.