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FHWA Works: Careers in Motion

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Road sign: CAREERS AHEAD

Welcome to the "FHWA Works: Careers in Motion Employee Spotlight" series, a look into the careers and lives of Federal Highway Administration employees. Each month, we will introduce you to one of nearly 3,000 FHWA colleagues and highlight the important work they do. Our employees come from all corners of the agency but all offer the same, yet unique sense of dedication and professionalism, all while keeping America's roads and bridges safe.

Check out whose career is in motion and how #FHWAWorks! Discover exactly why our agency is consistently highly ranked as one of the "Best Places to Work in Federal Government!"

To learn more about how FHWA Works, explore the video series on YouTube or FHWA's LinkedIn page.


FHWA Works: Employee Spotlight - Ben Graybeal

Photo of Ben Graybeal

Full Name: Ben Graybeal
Title: Team Leader, Bridge Engineering Research
Division/Department: Office of Infrastructure Research, Development, and Technology
Location (City/State): McLean, VA

  1. How long have you been in your role and how did you choose this transportation field?
    I’ve been in my current role as team leader for bridge engineering research since 2014. Prior to that I was a research structural engineer on the same team. I started my career working as a researcher on contract in a few different laboratories at FHWA’s Turner-Fairbank Highway Research Center. I like to think that bridge engineering chose me. It is well aligned with my skillsets, and, 20+ years in, I’m still excited by the challenges and opportunities.

  2. What do you find interesting about your job and what do you do on daily basis?
    When you are a first level manager while also personally leading aspects of the team’s research portfolio, no two days are the same. My work is all about problem solving, whether that involves developing innovative solutions to long-standing engineering challenges faced by our stakeholders, addressing personnel issues, or responding to requests for information from agency leadership.

  3. What has been your biggest accomplishment over the last year?
    I started researching ultra-high performance concrete (UHPC) in 2001, and that topic has stuck with me ever since. With a groundswell of interest from the bridge design community in recent years, my research group has been focused on developing formal structural design guidance for UHPC bridges. We recently delivered a draft guide specification on the topic to AASHTO’s Structural Concrete Design Committee. It is quite satisfying to see what the research group has been able to accomplish.

  4. Prior to working at FHWA, what was the most unusual or interesting job you've ever had?
    My dad was a school guidance counselor, and, during the summer, he was a house and barn painter. Each summer, I worked with him to apply some pigment to rural Pennsylvania farms. This early introduction to an honest day’s work (and to remaining focused and nimble while 30 feet up an extension ladder on the side of a barn!) has stuck with me for decades.

  5. What are your hobbies in your spare time?
    Although it’s probably not technically a hobby, I spend a lot of time raising my three kids. I coach youth soccer and basketball, and I support my kids in whatever activity they are excited about. I also enjoy caring for my home. My wife and I bought an old, run-down farmhouse 15 years ago and I have spent countless hours renovating the house, the barn, and the property. Although the commute to Turner-Fairbank can be long, this homestead is the perfect place to ride out a global pandemic!

  6. What is one of the biggest lessons you have learned in your career to get you where you are today?
    Passion is contagious and mentoring is key. One of the most rewarding aspects of my job comes from the informal mentoring that I offer to my team members. Helping to grow the next generation of engineering researchers is a force multiplier; over time it allows FHWA to best serve the needs of our partners by developing and championing innovative solutions. By personally leading an aspect of FHWA’s research program, I remain engaged with the community of practice while also demonstrating that a passion for your work is a pathway to success. When we work together toward a common goal, our competency and perspective combine to create a bright future for the U.S. highway transportation system.

  7. Who do you admire in the transportation field and why?
    The work of famous bridge engineers such as Roebling, Strauss, Freyssinet, and Maillart always impresses me. They each used technical competence and engineering judgement to craft novel solutions using emerging technologies. Their vision and inventiveness are attributes we can all hope to emulate.

  8. Complete this sentence: "People would be surprised if they knew..."

    In college and for a decade after, I played competitive ultimate (frisbee). In 1997 I was in the running for the Callahan Award, given to the top national collegiate player. Dump, Swing, Huck, Layout, Score!

Other Employee Spotlights

Ben Graybeal Full Name: Ben Graybeal
Title: Team Leader, Bridge Engineering Research
Division/Department: Office of Infrastructure Research, Development, and Technology
Location (City/State): McLean, VA
Justin Henwood Full Name: Justin Henwood
Title: Project Manager
Division/Department: Central Federal Lands Highway Division
Location (City/State): Lakewood, CO
Dean Kall Full Name: David Kall
Title: Environmental Protection Specialist
Division/Department: Office of Natural Environment, Air Quality and Noise Team
Location (City/State): Washington, DC
Jean Landolt Full Name: Jean Landolt
Title: Program Coordinator
Division/Department: Office of Corporate Research, Technology, and Innovation Management
Location (City/State): McLean, VA
Walter During, PE Full Name: Walter During, PE
Title: Transportation Specialist
Division/Department: Headquarters – Office of Operations
Location (City/State):Washington, DC
Morgan L. Kessler Full Name: Morgan L. Kessler
Title: Research Civil Engineer
Division/Department: Research, Development, and Technology–Infrastructure Office
Location (City/State): McLean, VA
Vontra Giles Full Name: Vontra Giles
Title: Community Planner
Division/Department: FHWA Alabama Division
Location (City/State): Montgomery, AL
Ana Maria Eigen Full Name: Ana Maria Eigen, D.Sc.
Title: Research Highway Safety Specialist
Division/Department: Office of Safety Research and Development
Location (City/State): McLean, VA
Deborah Walker Full Name: Deborah Walker
Title: Research Civil Engineer
Division/Department: Office of Infrastructure Research and Development
Location (City/State): McLean, Virginia

Carol H. Tan, Ph.D. Full Name: Carol H. Tan, Ph.D.
Title:Team Leader, Safety Data & Analysis
Division/Department: Office of Safety Research and Development
Location: McLean, VA
David Mensching Full Name: David Mensching, Ph.D., P.E.
Title: Asphalt Materials Research Program Manager
Division/Department: Office of Infrastructure Research and Development
Location (City/State): McLean, VA
Hoda Azari, PH.D. Full Name: Hoda Azari, PH.D.
Title: Nondestructive Evaluation (NDE) Research Program Manager
Division/Department: Office of Infrastructure Research and Development
Location: McLean, VA
Jeremy Raw Full Name: Jeremy Raw
Title: Community Planner
Division/Department: Systems Planning and Analysis Team, Office of Planning
Location: Washington, DC
Stephanie Stoermer Full Name: Joi Singh
Title: Realty Specialist
Division/Department:Office of Real Estate Services
Location: Washington, DC
Stephanie Stoermer Full Name: Stephanie Stoermer
Title: Environmental Program Specialist/Archaeologist
Division/Department: Environment, Air Quality & Realty Technical Services Team, Resource Center
Justin Ocel Full Name: Justin Ocel
Title: Civil Engineer
Division/Department: Turner-Fairbank Highway Research Center - Office of Infrastructure RD&T
Location: McLean, VA
MaryAnn Carpenter Full Name: MaryAnn Carpenter
Title: Transportation Specialist/International Liaison
Division/Department: Federal Highway Administration
Location: Washington, DC
Melinda Urban Full Name: Melinda Urban
Title: Senior Area Engineer
Division/Department: FHWA Colorado Division
Location: Lakewood, CO
Monica Jurado Full Name: Monica Jurado
Title: Pavements and Materials Engineer
Division/Department: FHWA Resource Center
Location: El Paso, TX
Al-Hasan Rashida Full Name: Al-Hasan Rashida
Title: Multimedia Specialist
Division/Department: Office of Management Services
Location: Washington, DC
Neil Gaffney Full Name: Neil Gaffney
Title: Public Affairs Specialist
Division/Department: Office of Public Affairs
Location: Washington, DC
Susie Tingler Full Name: Susie Tingler
Title: Management Assistant
Division/Department: Director of Field Services
Location: Baltimore, MD
Christopher Douwes Full Name: Christopher Douwes
Title: Community Planner; commonly known as the Transportation Alternatives and Recreational Trails Program Manager
Division/Department: Office of Human Environment
Location: Washington, DC
Rebecca T. Crowe Full Name: Rebecca T. Crowe (Becky)
Title: Transportation Specialist
Division/Department: Office of Safety
Location: ADL- Virginia Division; Richmond, VA
Jihan Kamel Noizet Full Name: Jihan Kamel Noizet
Title: Transportation Specialist
Division/Department: Office of International Programs
Location: Washington, DC
Todd Kohr Full Name: Todd Kohr
Title: Legislative Analysis Team Leader
Division/Department: Office of Policy and Governmental Affairs
Location: Washington, DC
Agnes Vélez Full Name: Agnes R. Vélez
Title: Transportation Specialist
Division/Department: Office of International Programs
Location: Washington, DC
Photo of Thao Truong, P.E. Full Name: Thao Truong, P.E.
Title: Highway Designer
Division/Department: Western Federal Lands Highway Division
Location (City/State): Vancouver, WA
Photo of Terry Schumann Full Name: Terry Schumann
Title: Environmental Protection Specialist
Division/Department: Federal Lands Highway, Office of Tribal Transportation
Location (City/State): Portland, OR
Photo of Hope Brooks Full Name: Hope Brooks
Title: Program Analyst
Division/Department: Office of Planning, Environment & Realty
Location (City/State): Washington, DC
Photo of Yan "Jane" Jiang Full Name: Yan "Jane" Jiang
Title:Senior Research Civil Engineer
Division/Department: Office of Infrastructure Research and Development
Location (City/State): McLean, VA
Photo of Karen M. Brunelle Full Name: Karen M. Brunelle
Title: Director, Office of Project Development
Division/Department: FHWA, Florida Division
Location (City/State): Tallahassee, FL
Photo of Zachary Haber, Ph.D. Full Name: Zachary Haber, Ph.D.
Title: Research Structural Engineer
Division/Department: Office of Infrastructure Research and Development
Location (City/State): McLean, VA

Photo of  Melonie Barrington Full Name: Melonie Barrington
Title: Training Program Manager
Division/Department: National Highway Institute
Location (City/State): Arlington, VA

Photo of  Gail Edwards Full Name: Gail Edwards
Title: Communications Specialist
Division/Department: Office of Public Affairs
Location: Washington, DC
Photo of Jean Nehme Full Name: Jean Nehme
Title: Team Leader
Division/Department: Office of Research, Technology, and Development
Location (City/State): McLean, VA
Photo of Michelle Arnold, Ph.D. Full Name: Michelle Arnold, Ph.D.
Title: Research Transportation Specialist
Division/Department: Office of Safety, Research & Development
Location (City/State): McLean, VA
Photo of Abdul Zineddin, Ph.D. Full Name: Abdul Zineddin, Ph.D.
Title: Transportation Specialist
Division/Department: Office of Safety R&D
Location: McLean, VA
Photo of Taylor Lochrane Full Name: Taylor Lochrane
Title: Technical Manager
Division/Department: Office of Operation Research and Development
Location: McLean, VA
Photo of Dan Mathis Full Name: Dan Mathis
Title: Division Administrator
Division/Department: Washington Division
Location: Olympia, WA
Photo of Bruce Moody Full Name: Bruce Moody
Title: Program Management Analyst
Division/Department: Oregon and Washington Divisions
Location: Salem, OR
Photo of Joey Hartmann Full Name: Joey Hartmann
Title: Director of the Office of Bridges and Structures
Division/Department: Office of Infrastructure
Location: Washington, DC
Photo of Doug Hecox Full Name: Doug Hecox
Title: Spokesman
Division/Department: Federal Highway Administration
Location: Washington, DC
Photo of Tome White Full Name: Tom White
Title: Social Media Coordinator
Division/Department: Office of Public Affairs
Location: Washington, DC
Photo of Norah Ocel Full Name: Norah M. Ocel, P.E.
Title: Transportation Operations Team Leader/Highway Safety Engineer
Division/Department: Eastern Federal Lands Highway Division
Location: Sterling, Virginia
Photo of LaToya Hines Full Name: LaToya Hines
Title: Staff Assistant to the FHWA Administrator
Division/Department: Office of the Administrator
Location: Washington, DC
Photo of Travis Thomas Full Name: Travis Thomas
Title: Lead IT Specialist
Division/Department: Office of Information Technology Service/Office of Administration (HAD)
Location: Washington, DC
Roger Ryder Full Name: Roger Ryder
Title: Senior Stewardship Advisor/Director of Operations [currently Territorial Program Manager]
Division/Department: FHWA Pennsylvania Division [currently FHWA PR & USVI Division]
Location: Harrisburg, Pennsylvania
Jennifer Nicks Full Name: Jennifer Nicks, PhD, PE
Title: Research Geotechnical Engineer
Division/Department: Office of Infrastructure Research & Development (R&D)
Location: Turner-Fairbank Highway Research Center,
McLean, Virginia
Trinette D. Ballard Full Name: Trinette D. Ballard
Title: Marketing and Communications Specialist
Division/Department: FHWA Florida Division
Location: Tallahassee, Florida
Jaun C. Garcia Full Name: Juan C. Garcia
Title: Multimedia Specialist
Division/Department: Management Services/Office of Administration (HAD)
Location: Washington, DC
Photo of Kirsten Poston Full Name: Kirsten Poston
Title: Disability Policy Analyst
Division/Department: Office of Civil Rights
Location: Washington, DC
Cynthia L. Essenmacher Full Name: Cynthia L. Essenmacher
Title: Federal Tolling Program Manager
Division/Department: Headquarters – Office of Operations
Location: Lansing, Michigan
Maria Ousley Full Name: Maria Ousley
Title: Civil Engineer, Contracting Officer's Representative
Division/Department: Central Federal Lands
Location: Carson City, NV
  U.S. Department of Transportation, Federal Highway Administration - Careers in Motion  
Page posted on May 17, 2022
Federal Highway Administration | 1200 New Jersey Avenue, SE | Washington, DC 20590 | 202-366-4000