My involvement in the IRWA began shortly after starting in the
right of way business. I was hired by the Oregon Department
of Transportation (ODOT) as a trainee in the Right of Way
Department 33 years ago. The Department encouraged
participation in the IRWA through courses and involvement in
the local Chapter, so that made it easy to jump into volunteering.
For the next 12 years, I advanced from the trainee position
at ODOT into a variety of roles, including right of way agent,
senior agent and project manager. One of the positions I held
at ODOT was a Condemnation Liaison, which was an exciting
learning experience that allowed me to travel all over the state.
I left ODOT after 10 years and went to work in the right of way
department for a local public agency.
During those first 12 years at ODOT and Washington County,
I really started getting active in the IRWA. Like many of you,
I was asked to do one thing and that continued to evolve into
various positions. Before you know it, you’re serving as Chapter
President. It was during this same time that I became active at
the Region level as well. I didn’t
want to end my involvement when
I was no longer a Chapter officer, so
I started volunteering for different
roles within the Region.
The more I got involved, the
more I wanted to be part of the
Association. I had developed
friends throughout our Region
and had met many others at the conferences I was able to attend.
The contacts I made were not only helping me in my job, but
also in my career. Gary Farr—Vice President of Universal Field
Service, Inc. in the Seattle area at the time and a member of
Chapter 4—introduced me to Tom Benson, one of the owners of
Universal. In 1998, Universal hired me as the Region Manager
for Oregon and SW Washington. I asked Tom if Universal
would support my involvement in the IRWA—I didn’t know
what a silly question that was! My position with Universal has
continued to grow. I am currently the Vice President for the
Member Spotlight is a wonderful place to introduce yourself or to celebrate a fellow member’s contributions to our purpose
of improving the quality of life through infrastructure development. For more information or to submit a member for
consideration, please contact Ethel Navales at email@example.com.
This month, we spotlight Leslie Finnigan, SR/WA