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Member Spotlight - Jessica Kenny

July 28, 2014 10:25 AM

Rebecca Heavey of Howard/Stein-Hudson recently had the opportunity to eat lunch with fellow WTS Member Jessica Kenny.  Jessica is the Environmental Compliance Manager for the Highway Division at MassDOT. 

What first spiked your interest in the Transportation field?
I guess you could say it was natural for me, as my family has always been involved in construction.  My dad was a carpenter, and a few relatives on my mom’s side of the family were involved in Environmental services. 

If you could make one change to common infrastructure in the USA, what would you change?
I think we could really use improvements in Transit.  Boston is so regionally important, and it’d be great if we could get from point A to B faster.  If we could have high-speed rail across the country it’d be an amazing improvement.

What advice would you give to a young woman just entering the industry?
Utilize your mentors! Show an interest in the field and be as hungry for knowledge as possible. Go to meetings and sit at the table and don’t be afraid to speak up.  Don’t be afraid of making mistakes – just get out there and go for it!

Where can you be found most weekends?
I live in Newbury, so most weekends I can be found around Newburyport.  I’m a runner so I spend a lot of time running on the weekends.  I also spend my time exploring the wildlife around Plum Island with my 3 year old son, Declan.  He just loves digging holes on the beach and looking at all the different birds.

I heard through the grapevine that you ran the 2014 Boston Marathon. Can you tell me more about your running experience?
I started running soon after my son was born.  I felt like with my job and my son, I really didn’t have a lot of spare time for exercise, so I started running around Boston on my lunch breaks. Now I typically run about 20-35 miles per week.  Before running the Boston Marathon, my furthest distance was about 15 miles.  Around January, I was informed that MassDOT had a team of 10 for the Marathon and they were looking for teammates.  I entered my name and was lucky enough to get a spot! My goal for the Marathon was to run the distance without stopping, and actually crossing the finish line.  I’m very happy that I accomplished both.

If you could travel to any country, where would you go?
I actually got to travel a lot while I was studying at the Massachusetts Maritime Academy in Cape Cod.  I got to ride through the Panama Canal on a ship and travel to Costa Rica.  I’ve also been to Spain, Norway, Sweden, and Denmark.  At the moment, at the top of my list for travel destination is London.  I did visit the city years ago, but there are so many more sites I’d like to see – I just didn’t have time for it all during my visit. I really want to get over to Ireland too!

If you could have any other job in the world, what would it be and why?
I think my dream job would be to work for a non-profit organization – perhaps one that helps children.  I feel like being a volunteer would be very fulfilling, and I’d love being able to give back more to the community.

Name one invention that you wish actually existed.
If I could get into my car and start it with just my thumb print, that’d be amazing! I’d never have to worry about losing my keys again, because it’s attached to me.

Is there someone you admire or you would like to meet within WTS-Boston?
Yes, actually! I’d love to meet Margaret O’Meara – she currently works for Parsons Brinckerhoff and she use to work at MassHighway in construction from what I understand.  I saw her speak at a WTS event and I thought that she was very inspiring.  She entered into the construction industry about 25 years ago, which was before many other women entered the field.  When she speaks, she has excellent command of the room, and I’d love to have a conversation with her.  I always see her at WTS events but haven’t yet had the chance to say hello to her.  Perhaps I’ll get the chance after this is published!


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