Oswego public works director earns national honors

Village of Oswego Public Works Director Jennifer Hughes (Photo courtesy of the village of Oswego)

The village of Oswego Public Works Director and village engineer Jennifer Hughes is getting national recognition for her work.

Hughes recently earned a national award as a Top Ten Public Works Leader from the American Public Works Association (APWA). The award recognizes career service to the public works profession, as well as work ethic and dedication to service in the community and APWA.

For almost a decade, Hughes has planned and managed infrastructure projects, overseen the village’s wells and watermains, and provided essential services including waste collection and road maintenance. She leads a team of 27 employees in the public works department.

“Jennifer is truly deserving of this award,” Village President Ryan Kauffman said. “As a growing community, Oswego must balance maintenance of its current infrastructure, ongoing growth and keeping an eye to the future. Jennifer has done that through her entire time with the Village, ensuring we can meet the needs of future generations of Oswegoans.”

Some highlights of Hughes’ work during her tenure so far include leading the creation of a master plan for widening Wolfs Crossing and overseeing the start of the project, managing a multi-year plan to bring Lake Michigan water to the village, and overseeing downtown improvements that facilitated recent redevelopment.

Hughes has also been instrumental in securing significant grant funding for the village, including $8 million for Wolfs Crossing, according to the village. In addition, her role in helping to build the new police headquarters in 2018 assisted in the project earning a national APWA award, according to the village.

Hughes graduated from the University of Notre Dame and spent the first part of her career working for the Indiana Department of Transportation leading highway design projects. After a brief stint working in the private sector, she went to work for the Village of Lincolnshire in 1997. She was later named the first female public works director for Lincolnshire, joining a select group of women in the Chicago area public works industry to hold this role.

She continues to serve as a role model and mentor to others in the industry and is highly respected by her peers and co-workers, according to the village. She has been active on committees and local branch and chapter functions of APWA, including serving as chapter president in 2016.

“I couldn’t have received this award without having an incredible team surrounding me at every step,” said Hughes. “We’ve accomplished so much together to make Oswego and our world healthier, safer, and prosperous, and hopefully happier.”

The Village Board honored Hughes in recognition of the AWPA award at the May 16 meeting.