To Amber Leigh Patton, family is everything. The relationships she has developed through entertainment ticketing and INTIX have also changed her life. Here, the Ticket and Box Office Manager for the Pullo Center at Penn State’s York Campus reflects on her greatest love, a special mentor, being inspired by a Second Lady and the camaraderie of our industry.
Editor’s Note: This interview was conducted in March for our “Getting to Know You” series just before the coronavirus pandemic took hold.
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What brings you the most joy or the greatest meaning in life?
Being with the people who I love. My family is super close, and even though we don’t live near each other, we call each other all the time. We have group texts, and we go on vacations together, so they bring me the most joy.
My family is still in State College, Pennsylvania, which is where Penn State’s main university campus is located, so it’s the place I love to visit the most. It’s such a neat little town. They have great restaurants, plus two venues that are part of Penn State, the Eisenhower Auditorium and Bryce Jordan Center. Both of them always have amazing shows.
Amber and her family.
Like most of us in the industry, you clearly love live events. What’s your favorite venue and why?
I have to say the Pullo Center. I might be biased, but we are just such a cool little venue. There is nothing like seeing some of your favorite shows and acts in the comfort of a small theatre. You can be in the very last row and you’re only a couple hundred feet from the stage.
What’s the best live event you’ve ever seen and why?
I saw The Who in 2006, and my friend and I were about 13 rows from the stage. We were the youngest people there by 25 or 30 years, and we knew every single word for every single song. They sounded awesome. Ringo Starr’s son was their drummer at that time, too. It was really cool.
What is your favorite band and sports team?
My favorite band is Snow Patrol. I started listening to them in college. The new album they put out last year is amazing. And since I am a sports fan, I have to say that my favorite team is the Pittsburgh Pirates, although it’s been difficult in the last 25 years being a fan because they’ve been so terrible. Every year is next year.
Amber with two Pittsburgh Pirates.
Who is the greatest love of your life?
I should probably say my husband, Kevin, but he knows better. He would probably agree with me that it would be our rescue pit bull, Mazeroski. We call her Mazzy for short. She is named after Bill Mazeroski who played his entire career with the Pirates.
Amber, Kevin and Mazzy.
Besides spending time with Mazzy, what do you like to do in your spare time?
I love to shop, and my husband and I like to go out and try different restaurants. We also just joined a country club. They have a pool, so I’m excited to do that and maybe learn to golf, too. I have also been trying to read at least two or three books a month, and I’m trying to expand outside of my usual John Grisham or trashy romance novels. I really like Dan Brown, and I have also been getting into Toni Morrison as well.
What is your most treasured possession?
I have a wooden and wicker chair that my grandfather made. He had his own upholstery and woodworking shop. It was one of the first things that he made, so it’s probably 80 years old.
Family is obviously very important to you. Who do you admire most and why?
My mom, Amy. She was a single mom to myself and my two sisters for a lot of our life. She worked really hard to give us everything, so now it’s my turn to take care of her.
What are the qualities you value most in others?
Honesty. I strive to be honest with others, sometimes too much, and I expect the same from the people around me. If you want to know if you have something stuck in your teeth or that orange doesn’t look good on you, I’m your girl, but I want you to do the same thing for me.
With friends, it’s loyalty. It’s so easy to get away from people with everything going on in our lives. With a lot of my friends, we can go months without talking or seeing each other, but they’re always there for me.
In my colleagues, I appreciate good communication. It’s the key to making your team work well together. And in a leader, someone who cares about their employees and wants to see them succeed. I don’t need a parade or a pat on the back all the time, but it is nice to be recognized for hard work.
What do you consider your greatest achievement?
Professionally, it would have to be revamping our group sales department. We didn’t have one for a long time, but I ended up taking over that department in 2016 when we did some restructuring. With the help of some of my amazing ticket office staff, we quadrupled what we were bringing in before. It’s been a big game-changer for us.
Speaking of game-changers, if you were granted three wishes today, what would they be?
To cure cancer would be one. So many people have to deal with it, and it hits really close to home for me. Another would be clearing the animal shelters so that all animals have a loving home. I’m a huge proponent for a rescue. I also have to have one selfish one, so I would probably say never to deal with traffic and bad drivers.
If you could go back in time, what advice would you give yourself?
I would probably say not to take things so personally. I used to get down and frustrated when a patron would yell or argue. I had to learn that they were projecting something and that I don’t need to take it to heart. I just try to remedy the situation as best as I can. I used to hold onto those feelings and dwell on them, but I’ve come to terms with that.
Who or what inspires you?
Recently, I have been inspired by Gisele Fetterman, the wife of the Lieutenant Governor of Pennsylvania and our Second Lady. I started following her on social media, and then I had the chance to hear her speak at our Penn State York campus. She has a really fascinating story about immigrating to the United States, and she does a lot for the disadvantaged in our state. She’s a big proponent of the census here in Pennsylvania. She just emulates this incredible positivity and kindness that sometimes doesn’t always come easily. Meeting her and talking to her, she makes me want to do better and be more involved.
Amber and Gisele Fetterman.
Who is your mentor?
My boss, Tina Rohrbach. She and I have been working together for over a decade, and I’ve seen myself transformed so much as a person, an employee and a manager. I owe a lot to her regarding my achievements and my progress. Not just in my duties at work, but as a person, too. She is a great listener, and she’s just wonderful. She started working in a ticket office when she was 16, and she inspired me to join INTIX.
Amber, Penn State mascot Nittany Lion and Tina.
Why are you a member of INTIX?
I would say definitely for the knowledge and camaraderie of others who understand our crazy business. I have learned so much from attending the conferences. That’s the biggest thing I’ve received from joining. I always bring back new ideas to implement into our own daily tasks in our daily lives here at the theatre.
The relationships have been amazing, too. I reach out to several INTIX members throughout the year. They’re always willing to lend a hand and an ear and give advice. I’ve met so many new friends personally and professionally.
INTIX also helps me keep up on the trends of the industry. I love the newsletters. They’re fantastic. I love all the different articles, and I pass them around to the different departments here. Our industry is constantly changing, so it’s fantastic to have everything bundled up in those newsletters to get feeds about what’s going on. The website is also incredibly resourceful.
What does INTIX give you that’s different from everything else you’re doing?
That sense of knowing that other people know what you’re going through because ticketing is such a unique niche. We are very different from other departments in venues, and it’s nice to have that relationship with others in your field. That’s been such a big help.
What do you love most about your job?
The many different types of people that you get to meet. We’re so lucky to work in a fun industry, and I love seeing the smiles on people’s faces after they come out of an event. They’re like, ‘Oh, my gosh, it was so awesome, bring them back. We had such a good time!’ I love that part of my job.
What’s your most memorable career moment?
I worked in minor league baseball, and it started to rain. We were pulling the tarp over the field, and it was all hands on deck. It was my first time ever pulling the tarp. Everybody started running, and I am super accident prone, so I tripped, fell and got engulfed by the tarp, then rolled down the grass for about 30 seconds. It happened in front of a couple thousand people. I was not hurt, but it was very entertaining. And after that, I was designated to the front gates and asked to never help with the tarp pull again.
What’s your most memorable INTIX moment?
Being asked to speak on a panel at INTIX 2018 by our ticketing company, accesso ShoWare. It was a little overwhelming, but it was also incredible at the same time. It was also my very first INTIX conference.
What do you love most about our industry in general?
The camaraderie. I haven’t met many people in our industry who treat you as a competitor or a threat. We’re all in this together, and we all help each other succeed. I think that’s pretty amazing because that’s not always something that’s found in a lot of other industries.