U.S. Department of Transportation
Federal Highway Administration
1200 New Jersey Avenue, SE
Washington, DC 20590
FHWA Works: Careers in Motion
FHWA Works: Employee Spotlight - Cynthia L. Essenmacher
Full Name: Cynthia L. Essenmacher
Title:Federal Tolling Program Manager
Division/Department: Headquarters – Office of Operations
How long have you been in your role and how did you choose this transportation field?
I have been in tolling for 11 years, but in my current position for 4 years. I didn't choose transportation, per se, transportation really chose me. When I was studying for my graduate degree in public administration at the University of Baltimore, a professor took me under his wings to assist the Maryland Transportation Authority with data analysis. That assistance we provided helped me land a position as a legislative analyst with the Authority where I built a government relations department that didn't exist.
What do you find interesting about your job and what do you do on daily basis?
I find the politics of tolling, not only at the Federal level but at the state and local levels, to be very intriguing. A firm understanding of the legislative process is essential, and I enjoy being a part of that process. On a daily basis, I assist Divisions and states with eligibility of tolling questions and tolling compliance issues.
What has been your biggest accomplishment over the last year?
My biggest work accomplishment was leading a large team of several Headquarters offices to update a guidance document and major program, a program that I inherited less than 2 years ago. It was a challenging work assignment and allowed me to work with a very diverse group of professionals within the agency.
Prior to working at FHWA, what was the most unusual or interesting job you've ever had?
My most interesting job was a Senate page for the Michigan Legislature during my college years, running errands for legislators. Being able to watch the legislative process in action and interact with legislators one on one is priceless for college students. This started my love for the legislative process.
What are your hobbies in your spare time?
Travel, camping, and the outdoors! I absolutely love to travel around the United States and have visited many different states (35 in total). My family purchased a used pop up trailer in 2017 and have traveled all throughout Michigan. My favorite spot is anywhere near a freshwater lake, although we only have a limited summer season to enjoy the lakes up here in Michigan. I love to find obscure places to visit too.
What is one of the biggest lessons you have learned in your career to get you where you are today?
The most important lesson I have learned, not only with my career but in life, is to not let the little things get under my skin. While this is sometimes easier said than done, I ignore most of life's annoyances and practice more gratefulness in my life.
Who do you admire in the transportation field and why?
My prior boss was a great mentor and friend in the transportation finance world. He currently serves as a senior executive at the U.S. Economic Development Administration (Commerce Department) and has so much confidence in my abilities and helped my career take off in the transportation world.
Complete this sentence: "People would be surprised if they knew..."
I have homeschooled my kids since kindergarten with the help of my husband, tutors, and local support groups. It has been wonderful to see my kids grow so much in their education and I find homeschooling isn't as difficult as one would imagine. My kids are in the 7th and 9th grades now.
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Page last modified on October 20, 2021