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 - Doug Hecox
Full Name: Doug Hecox
Division/Department: Federal Highway Administration
Location: Washington, DC
What is your current position and how long have you been in this role?
12 years – or 84 in dog-years. Depends on your calendar, I guess.
What is your typical workday like?
In the tumultuous world of Public Affairs, there is no "typical" day. Our daily activities depend on the news cycle – which often can’t be predicted. From politics to bad weather, our daily efforts are directly affected by events going on nationwide or, sometimes, worldwide. From explaining how federal highway funding works to reporters, or providing project updates to them, or pitching story ideas to producers, or writing speeches, press releases, blogs or other items, the days go by very quickly. FHWA’s Public Affairs team is small but VERY good at what we do.
What has been your biggest accomplishment over the last year?
That is a great question, because there have been several. For example, in September, I keynoted an AASHTO conference in Annapolis, Md., and was VERY well received. In October, I climbed atop the Golden Gate Bridge. In January, I got the Trivago guy to tuck in his shirt on national TV, and, this past April, the Washington City Paper named me (@dougfun) the Best Twitter Personality in the nation’s capital... for the second year in a row. I admit it’s not like curing cancer, but it’s something. It was a good year.
Prior to working at FHWA, what was the most unusual or interesting job you've ever had?
Many folks around here know I have been a professional writer for over 25 years, including hundreds of newspaper and magazine articles, and two books, but I've also been a professional comedian for most of that time too. What few know is that I once worked in a prison. True story. My first job after high school was as a prison tour guide. Many years later, I worked in the White House and, thanks to the prison experience, I felt pretty prepared. When you know how to make a knife out of a bar of soap, you can pretty much do anything.
What are your hobbies in your spare time?
Other than performing and constantly writing jokes, I am a committed half-marathon runner and am trying to run one in each state. I am currently training for my second Marine Corps Marathon. For the last 15 years, I have also been a college professor at American University where I teach journalism and public relations. From the public relations work I do for the FHWA, to the comedy, news writing and teaching, most of my interests revolve around the same thing – expressing complex thoughts simply and, hopefully, to an engaged and willing audience. As I tell my students, writing is one of humanity’s most powerful inventions – and all manner of success comes to those who can do it well. It’s given me a great adventure-filled career.
What is one of the biggest lessons you have learned in your career to get you where you are today?
The learning never ends. In the Public Affairs world, new technologies – from social media to camera phones – are challenging our basic definition of what "news media" are, and are challenging the nature of our work. We Public Affairs types are being asked to do more with less, and the advent of so many new technologies that are becoming relevant so quickly (such as Snapchat, Reddit, Periscope and so on) are forcing everyone in the Public Affairs community to become proficient with new tools more quickly than ever before.
Complete this sentence: "People would be surprised if they knew..."
I recently auditioned for an underwear ad. I won’t bore you with the details, but I didn’t get the job.
Careers in Motion Home
Page last modified on June 15, 2016.