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Words of Wisdom

Words of Wisdom

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    Photo: Bryan Haraway / Getty Images

    Qiong Liu, deputy public works director/city engineer for the city of North Las Vegas.

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    Photo: City of Oregon City

    Nancy J.T. Kraushaar, right, public works director and city engineer for Oregon City, Ore.

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    Photo: City of Hays.

    Brenda Herrmann, director of public works for Hays, Kan.

Education

Sherri Dunlap, MBA, DEng, CPESC
Manager of applied technology and new products
Harris County, Texas (Flood Control District)
Population: 3.4 million
Area: 1778 square miles

Dunlap knows a lot about a lot. During her years of schooling, she earned a chemical engineering degree from Philadelphia's Drexel University, a bachelor's in horticulture and landscape management (with a minor in construction) from Texas A&M, an MBA from the University of Houston's Clear Lake campus, and a doctorate in geotechnical engineering from Texas A&M.

“I have a second set of business cards with the alternative job title ‘Technical Weenie' printed on the back to break the ice in situations where people are intimidated by my credentials,” she says.

Her impressive background—in addition to wowing others—makes her a tremendous asset to her agency.

“My multi-discipline background makes me uniquely qualified to act as internal consultant for the Harris County (Texas) Flood Control District and other agencies,” she says. “It's not rocket science, but it is very integrative. They'd have to hire three or four folks to garner the knowledge and experience I use to develop well-considered solutions to complex problems.”

Increasing others' understanding of her complex role is a mild obstacle—some co-workers hesitate to approach her with problems—but she meets the challenge by gearing her message to a non-technical audience and speaking on their level. Also, she finds gender can be an advantage.

“The good ol'boy network exists,” she says, “but so does the good ol' girl network.”

Growth

Karen Rozmus
Solid waste manager
Oak Park, Ill.
Population: 54,524
Area: 4.7 square miles

Great careers often start small. Rozmus's impressive record of public service has grown from humble beginnings, and she continues to build upon her achievements

Rozmus has a history of green mindedness. A stay-at-home mother, she worked as an artist (crafting porcelain dolls) and poet (publishing a short book of her works). Her public works service began when she volunteered to start a recycling program in her hometown of Forest Park, Ill.

From there, she started writing an environmental column in the local paper, and was tapped by the mayor to serve on a solid-waste advisory committee. When the position of waste reduction coordinator opened up in Oak Park, she was asked to fill in on a temporary basis, but was hired shortly thereafter.

Rozmus credits her “never satisfied” attitude as contributing to her success.

“Above all, I strive to provide a high level of service to our taxpayers,” she says. “Being enthusiastic helps develop partnerships and build support for new programs.”