Kate Kohan, the Senior Highway Maintenance Manager in Dauphin County, is the first woman to hold the position in the county.
“My experience as a woman in a male dominated industry is shockingly not horrible or anything like that,” she said. “I’ve had nothing but positive experiences back from when I was an intern on the crew with a bunch of guys to now when I’m sitting in meetings with all my other managers, with district staff. I haven’t had any experiences where it’s been negative, or I felt different because I was a woman.”
Kohan started her career with PennDOT in 2007 as an intern in Lancaster County working on Bridge Crew. From there, once out of school, she was hired full time as a stock clerk in Lancaster. In 2016, she moved to Dauphin as the roadway programs coordinator.
Kohan is now in her 7th position within PennDOT. In her current role, she oversees operations spanning 556.5 miles of state roads and 447 state-owned bridges within the county, as well as long-term planning, budgeting, and handles complaints from legislators and the public.
“My favorite thing about working at PennDOT is honestly just the relationships that I’ve built over the years. We have a great group of people,” she said. “We have a great atmosphere; we all get along. We get our job done, but we do it in a way that makes people want to work here.”
Kohan was quick to mention her predecessor Dale Good, now Assistant District Executive for Maintenance in Dauphin County, as someone that she considered to be her mentor at PennDOT. She says he gave her new opportunities to expand her knowledge and pushed her to strive for the position she’s in now. Good continues as her supervisor and mentor now.
“When you have a career, and you think you know where you want to get to, he was very good at saying, ‘Well maybe you just need to take this other path’,” she said. “It’s not always straight forward. You can step off to come back, and he really pushed me to do that.”
Kohan cares a lot about her employees and coworkers. When she started at PennDOT, she was surprised by the general perception of the public.
“Some people think that we are just driver’s licenses or we’re just filling potholes. They don’t realize that we have entire units dedicated to traffic, design and construction, to improve our roadways,” she said. “The general perception of what the public thinks we do versus what we actually do, especially in maintenance. The understanding of how the work is done and how it’s perceived has been really eye-opening. Trying to change those attitudes as best as I can one person at a time.”
Outside of work, Kohan enjoys hanging out with her dog, a 9-year-old Lab-Pit mix, and her husband who is an assistant manager for PennDOT in Berks County. She also enjoys trying new fun things with friends, trying new recipes, and having themed parties.
Kohan concluded: “I wish the general public knew that all our people out there - plowing the snow, picking up litter, filling the potholes – they all have lives outside of here. I wish that they would just pay more attention to our signs, drive a little slower. It’s scary when our guys are out there. They do put their lives on the line every day. I just wish there was more of a connection there. That people understood that and took the extra care. I want to see everyone go home safe at night.”
For more information on what Kohan and PennDOT are doing in Dauphin County, visit our page for District 8.