Esther Calas is the first female director of Florida's Miami-Dade County, one of the largest counties in the United States. Photo: Miami-Dade County

Miami-Dade County—one of the largest in the country—has appointed longtime employee Esther Calas as its new director of public works. Calas, who joined the department in 1976 as an engineering drafter, replaces Aristides Rivera, who is retiring after 32 years with the county.

"Ms. Calas is a proven professional who has consistently excelled in challenging environments," said county manager George M. Burgess. "I am confident that she will be able to lead the public works department, which plays a major role in building and maintaining the critical infrastructure of our community."

Calas, who holds an engineering degree from the University of Miami and a professional engineering license, is the first female in the county to hold the position.

"When I first joined the county, there were very few women working in the engineering field—this was not only true here but across the nation," said Calas.

Calas' new responsibilities include roadway improvements and implementation of the public works portion of Miami-Dace's People's Transportation Plan. Other priorities include expediting the county traffic signal synchronization project, improving the mosquito control program, and working more closely with municipalities to plan, design, and construct projects in the county's cities, towns, and villages.