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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 - Cynthia L. Essenmacher

Photo of Cynthia L. Essenmacher

Full Name: Cynthia L. Essenmacher
Title: Federal Tolling Program Manager
Division/Department: Headquarters – Office of Operations
Location (City/State):Lansing, Michigan

  1. 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.

  2. 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.

  3. 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.

  4. 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.

  5. 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.

  6. 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.

  7. 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.

  8. 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.

Other Employee Spotlights

Photo of 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
Photo of Vontra Giles Full Name: Vontra Giles
Title: Community Planner
Division/Department: FHWA Alabama Division
Location (City/State): Montgomery, AL
Photo of 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

Photo of  Deborah Walker Full Name: Deborah Walker
Title: Research Civil Engineer
Division/Department: Office of Infrastructure Research and Development
Location (City/State): McLean, Virginia

Photo of 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
Photo of 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
Photo of 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
Photo of Jeremy Raw Full Name: Jeremy Raw
Title: Community Planner
Division/Department: Systems Planning and Analysis Team, Office of Planning
Location: Washington, DC
Photo of Stephanie Stoermer Full Name: Joi Singh
Title: Realty Specialist
Division/Department:Office of Real Estate Services
Location: Washington, DC
Photo of Stephanie Stoermer Full Name: Stephanie Stoermer
Title: Environmental Program Specialist/Archaeologist
Division/Department: Environment, Air Quality & Realty Technical Services Team, Resource Center
Photo of Justin Ocel Full Name: Justin Ocel
Title: Civil Engineer
Division/Department: Turner-Fairbank Highway Research Center - Office of Infrastructure RD&T
Location: McLean, VA
Photo of MaryAnn Carpenter Full Name: MaryAnn Carpenter
Title: Transportation Specialist/International Liaison
Division/Department: Federal Highway Administration
Location: Washington, DC
Photo of Melinda Urban Full Name: Melinda Urban
Title: Senior Area Engineer
Division/Department: FHWA Colorado Division
Location: Lakewood, CO
Photo of Monica Jurado Full Name: Monica Jurado
Title: Pavements and Materials Engineer
Division/Department: FHWA Resource Center
Location: El Paso, TX
Photo of Al-Hasan Rashida Full Name: Al-Hasan Rashida
Title: Multimedia Specialist
Division/Department: Office of Management Services
Location: Washington, DC
Photo of Neil Gaffney Full Name: Neil Gaffney
Title: Public Affairs Specialist
Division/Department: Office of Public Affairs
Location: Washington, DC
Photo of Susie Tingler Full Name: Susie Tingler
Title: Management Assistant
Division/Department: Director of Field Services
Location: Baltimore, MD
Photo of 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
Photo of Rebecca T. Crowe Full Name: Rebecca T. Crowe (Becky)
Title: Transportation Specialist
Division/Department: Office of Safety
Location: ADL- Virginia Division; Richmond, VA
Photo of Jihan Kamel Noizet Full Name: Jihan Kamel Noizet
Title: Transportation Specialist
Division/Department: Office of International Programs
Location: Washington, DC
Photo of Todd Kohr Full Name: Todd Kohr
Title: Legislative Analysis Team Leader
Division/Department: Office of Policy and Governmental Affairs
Location: Washington, DC
Photo of Agnes Vélez Full Name: Agnes R. Vélez
Title: Transportation Specialist
Division/Department: Office of International Programs
Location: Washington, DC
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
  U.S. Department of Transportation, Federal Highway Administration - Careers in Motion  
Page last modified on September 10, 2021
Federal Highway Administration | 1200 New Jersey Avenue, SE | Washington, DC 20590 | 202-366-4000