Launch Slideshow

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Top Leaders

Top Leaders

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    Steven Hansen's greatest challenge is maintaining aging infrastructure. Incorporated in 1829, Liberty, Mo., juggles the need to meet demands of a growing population with system components that date back 100 years or more. Photo: Sara Cooke

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    Morton, Ill., superintendent of public works Bob Wraight credits his organization's efficiency to its horizontal structure. “The more levels there are between the top and the bottom, the more communication breakdowns there are,” he says. Photo: Marc Nix

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    Kurt Corey poses with Lily the Pacific Green Tree Frog, the mascot for SPLASH (Stormwater Pollution: Learn and Share), an educational outreach program in Eugene, Ore. Photo: Kurt Corey

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    As former commissioner of transportation and works for the Regional Municipality of York, Ontario, Kees Schipper served a community that grew by an average of 40,000 people per year. Photo: Gail Lemieux

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    In 2005, Larry Lux visited Australia to compare the country's emergency management programs to American programs. He attended Australian football games, and got up close and personal with kangaroos, dingos, wombats, and fairy penguins. Photo: Larry Lux

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A passion for protection

Emergency management's top man: Larry Lux.

Like many other public works leaders, Larry Lux was attending the APWAannual conference in Philadelphia on Sept. 11, 2001. While eating breakfast with two Chicago-area public works directors, he watched the tragedy unfurl on television.

“Because of my passionate interest in emergency training, Sept. 11 made me more committed to my job and sharpened my awareness of how vulnerable we are,” he says.

In 2001, he created Lux Advisors Ltd., which provides emergency management consultation for public works departments. He also teaches emergency management courses for the Federal Emergency Management Agency and is a member of the Illinois Terrorism Task Force, a group of agencies and individuals that devises strategies for disaster preparation. In 2005, under the auspices of the APWA Jennings Randolph Fellowship Program, Lux traveled to Australia to study emergency management operations.

With his fresh outlook and optimism, Lux relishes new challenges. “I set up a series of goals for whatever I do,” he says. “When I achieve them, I tend to get bored and want to move on.”

Lux doesn't plan on retiring anytime soon. He enjoys his work, and he likes rubbing elbows with younger engineers. “Young people are smarter than my generation,” he says. “They have a better grasp on technology and are better ‘out-of-the-box' thinkers.”

Lux has some advice for these young engineers, though. “The younger guys tend to be impatient about their careers. They have unrealistic expectations about what should happen right after you graduate,” he says. “Don't be afraid to do the dirty jobs at the start.”

Larry Lux, president, Lux Advisors Ltd., Plainfield, Ill.
  • Years in public works: 42
  • Village stats: Plainfield is located 35 miles from Chicago. The community, the oldest in Will County, has a population of 30,300.
  • First job: Lux worked as a paper boy at age 8. His first “real world” job was at a gas station.
  • Career turning point: Although he went to school for a teaching degree, Lux changed course after a summer job in 1963 with a consulting engineer.
  • Fun fact: Lux is a proud Chicagoan, born and raised on the South Side. He has worked as an interim public works official in a number of Chicago suburbs.