Launch Slideshow

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2006 Trendsetters

2006 Trendsetters

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    Katie Curry's efforts to encourage others to recycle have made her a local hero. Plus, she gets to sit on her own hard-earned benches when she needs to take a break from bicycling around town with family. Photo: Mary Ann Carter/Black Star

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    Andres Duany

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    John Duncan Jr.

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    Al Gore

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    Interstate Highway System

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    Tim Pawlenty

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    Rich Giani (seated, second from left), water-quality manager at Washington, D.C.'s Water and Sewer Authority, headed a research team that revealed how chloramines affect the leaching of lead into drinking water. Photo: DC WASA

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    Illinois Road and Transportation Builders Association president Kathleen Holst is more concerned about road-related issues than she is about her status as the association's first female leader. Photo: IRTBA

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    Bruce Logan is using bacteria in wastewater to create electricity. Photo: Shaoan Cheng

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    Raymond Seed worked without pay to discover why New Orleans's flood control system failed during Hurricane Katrina. Photo: Jenni Spinner

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    At 35, Kris Riemann is the youngest public works director Gulfport, Miss., has had. Thanks to careful planning, the city was the first to restore services after Hurricane Katrina. Photo: Pat Sullivan

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    Diane Linderman asked Congress to allocate homeland security funds directly to public works as well as police and fire agencies. Photo: APWA

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    Joe Haworth (middle) urges public agencies to partner with each other to educate their customers about what they do. “Much of the public wants to help; they just need to be told what to do.” Photo: LACSD

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    Shawn “Jay-Z” Carter

For the complete list, click here.

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Facing challenges head on

Kathleen Holst, president, Illinois Road and Transportation Builders Association (IRTBA)

Holst grabbed IRTBA's reins in December 2005—the first woman in the association's history to do so. She'd already served as president of the American Traffic Safety Services Association, founded Alternate Construction Controls Inc., and accepted her current position as vice president of NES Rentals' Traffic Safety Midwest division after it bought her company. Although she's been asked several times what it's like to be a woman leading a male-dominated field, she doesn't think her gender is much of an issue.

“Being a woman makes no difference to me, but to others it makes a lot of difference,” she says. Several years ago, when asked what the future would hold for women, Holst said, “I hope that by the time my daughters have the opportunity to lead, no one will notice that a woman is taking on a ‘man's role.' We're not there yet.”

In the meantime, Holst has more daunting challenges.

“Funding needs are at an all-time high, congestion mitigation is an unfunded focus, and the safety of the motoring public and our workers has finally received prominent attention,” she says. Compared to these realities, Holst says, gender matters little.

“I was asked to speak to a group of businesswomen to describe the rocks in the road along the way, and I honestly had to tell them there aren't any rocks—just everyday challenges that we have to face head on,” she says. “If we looked at those issues as ‘rocks,' entrepreneurs would become extinct. We'd spend all our time worrying about what's to come and very little time planning. If a rock falls in your path, just jump over it and keeping running forward.”

— Jenni Spinner