After long city gov't career, director retires
From fortifying Wilsonville's transportation network, to bolstering old infrastructure in Charbonneau, to strategizing urban renewal, Nancy Kraushaar has had her hands in many buckets over the course of her time as the City's community development director.
And though not all of the projects are finished, in her retirement Kraushaar said she can always drive from her home in Tualatin to Wilsonville for lunch to observe how the projects she's influenced have progressed over time and reminisce on what she said was a worthwhile career.
"I feel like I've had a pretty amazing career because I've been able to do so many things and work with so many people and learn from so many people," Kraushaar said. "In city government you learn something every day and you can't ask for more than that."
After 6½ years as Wilsonville's community development director and over 25 years serving various capacities in local governments, Kraushaar will retire at the end of November.
"I've appreciated working with Nancy," City Manager Bryan Cosgrove said at the Nov. 19 Wilsonville City Council meeting. "She's a whirling dervish — constant motion, project to project meeting to meeting. She's represented us quite capably at the regional and state level. I will miss her greatly and I know her staff will."
Kraushaar graduated from University of Colorado and then served as an engineer in the private sector. After taking a work hiatus to raise children, she earned a job as an engineer for Oregon City in 1996. Eventually, she worked her way up to become Oregon City's Public Works Director and was named the 2012 National American Public Works Association Professional Manager of the Year in the transportation category.
When she was hired by the City of Wilsonville, she noticed a stark contrast between her former employer and her new one.
"I joked that I went to the oldest city west of the Rockies to one of the newest cities west of the Rockies," Kraushaar said.
And switching from a well-established city to a rapidly growing one meant that planning transportation development was one of Kraushaar's most significant responsibilities. In her time in Wilsonville, she worked on the Fifth to Kinsman Road extension, the Canyon Creek extension to Town Center Loop East, the Barbur Street Bridge and the project to build an auxiliary lane along I-5 Southbound. While her subordinates worked with consultants and were assigned projects, Kraushaar oversaw everything and assisted where need be. She also represented staff at City Council meetings.
She found that Wilsonville's newness and growth potential was both a blessing and a challenge to manage.
"The challenge in Wilsonville for me is the transportation network isn't built out completely but the good news is that the infrastructure is in really good shape," she said. "In Oregon City we were doing so much rehab work, replacing old pipes and pavement structures, and here most of the neighborhoods are pretty young."
For Kraushaar, strategizing logistics and funding is an enjoyable puzzle and seeing projects come to fruition is satisfying.
"Seeing a city grow to have infrastructure that's well maintained and having aesthetics that make people proud of their community, all of that is really rewarding," she said.
She's also grown fond of the community development staff and is confident the city will continue to run smoothly when she departs.
"I think it's all about the people," Kraushaar said. "We have a lot of fun in community development. We have a great staff, very professional, talented but down to earth, like to have fun."
Kraushaar has worked in both the public and private sector and believes local governments are sometimes un-
fairly labeled as inefficient and wasteful and she has enjoyed explaining to
the community how governments operates and why certain projects are necessary.
"We really strive to be efficient and provide efficient services and work hard. And we're very careful with public dollars," she said.
Kraushaar is excited for her new schedule to open up and to travel when she so chooses. But she's also grateful for her career as a public servant.
"I feel very fortunate to have had such a rewarding career," she said. "I really feel like 'Man it couldn't have been better,' which is amazing, right?"