Eric Wagner

To hear them tell it, they were just doing their jobs. But for three decades, Diana Clonch and Diane Watkins have been public works pioneers on the front line and behind the desk. Now, having embarked on a well-earned retirement, the Ohio residents find that life after public works is … well, still public works.

Today, Clonch and Watkins consult for the public works sector in different capacities, often working together. Why remain in the trenches after a fulfilling 30-year career?

“The work is so diverse, you never know what you’ll encounter each day,” says Watkins. “I’d come to work with a whole agenda planned and everything would change the minute I hit the door. That’s when the adrenaline kicks in and you accomplish things that almost seem impossible once you get them done and look back.”

Clonch started her career as an engineering technician at the county level and worked her way up to a managerial role with the Ohio DOT (ODOT). Watkins joined the City of Cincinnati as a payroll clerk and retired from there as a division superintendent. After they met at a snow conference about 10 years ago, their paths often crossed and a friendship developed. Currently, they both serve on the board and the planning committee for the Ohio chapter of the American Public Works Association (APWA).

Next page: Path to consulting