Municipality of Princeton
Tell us a bit about your background. How did you get to where you are now?
I grew up in the high desert of Southern California and graduated from Santa Clara University in the Bay Area / Silicon Valley. My family had a deep connection with SCU, dating back to the 1920s with my great-grandfather, who was also an engineering graduate. During my first year at SCU, I quickly realized that my declared major of psychology was not for me. Instead, I returned to my childhood hobbies of building roads for my Barbies and matchbox cars and drawing house floor plans for inspiration. While architecture was an interest, SCU did not have architecture, so I opted for Civil Engineering.
In 2000, my husband was provided an opportunity to relocate from Oregon to the Princeton area with his employer, IFF. We decided that we wanted to be located in or near Princeton due to the uniqueness of the town. The history of the town, the quality of the schools in the area, the vibrancy of the arts and cultural activities, and the international feel of the area were big attractions for us, especially coming from the West Coast.
As I had a background in private consulting work, I was very impressed with the professionalism and integrity of the Princeton Engineering Department staff, and was happy to join them as Assistant Municipal Engineer. In 2002, IFF presented my husband with an opportunity to work in their European headquarters and we moved to the Netherlands until 2005. Following our return, Princeton welcomed me back and I have worked here in varying capacities since.
What would you say makes your work unique?
Civil Engineering, and municipal engineering in particular, provides many opportunities to improve the quality of life for people. Municipal engineering encompasses technical design of infrastructure, problem solving, and provides opportunities to work on planning initiatives such as streetscapes, circulation master plans, and park improvements. In Princeton, we work closely with residents and business owners throughout planning, design and construction phases to ensure that the improvements meet and, hopefully exceed, their needs and expectations. We see the impact of improvements on a local and personal level that other civil engineers may not as consultants or state employees.
I meet so many interesting people from various backgrounds that constantly challenge me professionally and personally. In my career as a consultant in Oregon, I had the privilege to work with farmers, wineries, housing developers, small communities, recreation professionals, non-profits, and retail developers. Both my hiatus in Europe and my career at Princeton have given me a broader cultural viewpoint and an openness to consider new ideas and perspectives.
What do you consider your biggest accomplishment so far?
My biggest accomplishment has been to raise two fabulous daughters while balancing the demands of a full-time career and my husband’s very busy work / travel schedule. I’ve had many professional successes but more important to me is the happiness of my family.
Who has been the biggest influence on your career?
I’ve had many influential mentors in my career: Andy Klein, my first boss in Oregon, and especially Bob Kiser, Princeton’s former municipal engineer of 33 years. However, my grandmother Margaret House has influenced me the most and has been the silent supporter behind me at all times. She is a huge advocate for women having careers, especially in traditionally men’s fields. In the 1950s California university employment, she successfully pushed for the equal rights and pay for her female employees. She has always been there to advise that women are as good or better than men in anything they do.
Are you involved in any charitable / community causes that you are passionate about?
In the past I have been a Girl Scout Leader, Daisy and Brownie Troop Coordinator, and Manager of my daughter’s club soccer teams. I am currently First Vice President of the Professional Engineers Society of Mercer County. I am passionate about providing opportunities for education and advancement. Regardless of a person’s family history, background, income levels, they should be given the same tools and opportunities to achieve and excel. It is not just about others giving you the opportunities, it begins with you having the drive, discipline, and courage to make the change.
How can the PMA support or serve you better?
We are most successful when we have full knowledge of the needs and concerns of our constituents. The PMA meetings are a great vehicle for meeting our local business owners and making connections. We appreciate opportunities to share our upcoming projects, to receive feedback, and to periodically survey your membership regarding current topics.
Anything else that you would like to share?
I am thankful for the opportunity to serve the residents of Princeton and collaborate with our professional municipal staff and contractors to create places that will have a long history in the community’s memory such as Community Park Pools renovations; Mountain Lakes Dams restoration; Nassau Streetscape Design Guidelines; Bicycle Master Plan; and many road improvement projects including Edgehill Street and Mount Lucas Road.