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Management by the Mile

Dr. Sonja Greathouse Simpson '98, '99

The summer construction season is rolling along in Ohio, where the Ohio Department of Transportation is investing $2.35 billion into nearly 1,000 roadway and bridge projects.

ODOT and its contractors will repair or replace 5,645 miles of pavement — the equivalent of a four-lane highway from Columbus to Albuquerque, N.M.

Helping to manage those projects is Dr. Sonja Greathouse Simpson ’98, ’99, who was promoted to assistant director of field operations for ODOT in March. She directs and guides all 12 of the state’s transportation districts and two divisions at ODOT’s central office.

“We are constantly trying to move the dial to meet the goals we have established for ourselves as an agency,” she says of her role. “We work hard to manage money efficiently, deal with rules and regulations, and still meet our metrics.”

Simpson earned degrees from Cal U in environmental science, and geography and regional planning. She has her Doctor of Business Administration, with a specialization in public administration, from Northcentral University.

Simpson has been recognized for her leadership skills — she was named to Columbus Business First’s “Forty Under 40” list in 2012 and was named the American Public Works Association Manager of the Year for Administrative Management in 2013. In 2017, she received the Women’s Transportation Seminar Columbus Chapter’s 2017 Rosa Parks Diversity Leadership Award.

“I saw geography and regional planning as ways to give back to communities,” Simpson says. “I was a planner for the Mid-Ohio Regional Planning Commission for three years and learned a lot about transportation planning. With ODOT, the decisions we make also have a great impact on residents’ lives.

“This is a $3 billion-a-year agency,” she says of ODOT. “We must pay special attention to ways we can manage tax dollars responsibly.”

By Wendy Mackall, communications director at Cal U

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