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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.

Under her command, the department has grown to include refuse code enforcement and performance measurement coordination for the entire public works department. In addition, the solid-waste division has grown to include Rozmus, a full-time refuse code officer, and a part-time recycling coordinator.

As she's proven throughout her career, she loves a challenge—although, once again, gender isn't one.

“It's becoming more common to find women in many public works positions,” she says. “We've just had to break the glass ceiling and prove ourselves.”

Encouragement

Nancy J.T. Kraushaar, PE
Public works director/city engineer Oregon City, Ore.
Population: 28,964
Area: 9.3 square miles

Some youngsters know, with absolute certainty, what they want to be when they grow up. Kraushaar could not be counted among them.

“I didn't think a lot about a real grown-up career,” says Kraushaar. “I played with dolls, played school, dress-up, and had lots of fun in our neighborhood.”

Then, in high school, her focus sharpened.

“Math clicked for me after I had an amazing teacher—Paul Ziert—who got through like no other math teacher before,” she says. “Then I had a fantastic physics class my senior year.” With encouragement from her teachers, she entered the University of Colorado, where she earned a degree in civil engineering.

Her engineering career began with a Boulder, Colo., geotechnical engineering firm; then, she worked as an independent consultant for 12 years before she got the itch to try something different. She came to Oregon City as a senior engineer and after five years was bumped up to public works director; she's held that position for six years now. Along the way, Kraushaar has enjoyed the guidance of several mentors—a favor she hopes to pass along to others.

“Bob Strazer, my mentor as a geotechnical engineer, taught me to never stop raising the bar for your work,” she says. “My city manager, Larry Patterson, continues to inspire growth in my knowledge of local government. Our mayor, Alice Norris, teaches political acumen, sense of humor, and positive energy. I hope that I have mentored and continue to mentor my staff in some of the qualities to which I have been exposed.”