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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All-star teamwork

Mike Geisel is his town's most valuable player.

Chesterfield, Mo., a St. Louis community, is crazy about baseball. That's one reason the Catch 22 Miracle Field is the project Mike Geisel takes the most pride in.

The field is designed for athletes with special needs. Mike Matheny, a former catcher (No. 22) for the St. Louis Cardinals, conceptualized the project, then teamed with Geisel to complete the $650,000 field. Since its completion in August 2005, it's been a popular spot for children who use wheelchairs, walkers, and braces.

“Most engineers are fortunate to have one career-defining project,” says Geisel. “I've made a career of finding those projects on a regular basis.”

Geisel attributes his unique opportunities to his ability to recognize possibilities. “One of the biggest challenges I've faced through my career is encountering apathy and mediocrity,” he says. “I truly believe in the impact that we have in the growth and vitality of our community. I simply have to communicate that excitement to the folks who work with me.”

Geisel appreciates young engineers' fresh perspectives and abilities to tackle challenges in new ways. “I am always surprised and impressed with the creativity, energy, and capabilities of our youth,” he says.

Geisel devotes his time to several youth organizations. He has coached Odyssey of the Mind balsa wood structures teams that have gone to the world finals. He's served as a judge for the Destination Imagination Student Program. He visits elementary and middle schools to teach basic engineering concepts.

Through his community involvement, Geisel hopes to inspire a young person to follow the public works path. “If you're enthusiastic, young people will get interested in your work,” he says.

Mike Geisel, director of public works/city engineer, Chesterfield, Mo.
  • Years in public works: 24
  • City stats: Chesterfield is a St. Louis suburb with 46,000 residents. Its public works department has 90 to 150 employees, depending on the time of year.
  • Education: Undergraduate degree, civil engineering, University of Missouri-Rolla; masters in business administration, University of Missouri-St. Louis.
  • First job: At age 7, Geisel pulled nails from salvaged lumber for a construction company his dad worked for.