Women’s History Month 2022: Roadside Chat with SDOT team members

Several SDOT employees and women leaders smile for a group photo in downtown Seattle in October 2021 while celebrating the opening of the new 4th Ave protected bike lane. Photo credit: Jeanné Clark

March is Women’s History Month, a time when we recognize the many achievements women have made in the past, as well as celebrate the pathways we are currently forging for the future. Mentioned in our previous blog highlighting International Women’s Day on March 8, we at the Seattle Department of Transportation (SDOT) provide many forums to directly center Women’s voices. 

Internally, SDOT has a Women in Motion employee resource group, which provides an inclusive and supportive setting to engage with one another and discuss topics that center the perspectives, voices, and interests of women in the workplace. 

Externally, there are also many community engagement opportunities available that support and empower women in Seattle. For example, our Transportation Equity Workgroup is a community member-led partnership with SDOT made up of ten individuals affiliated in Black, Brown, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC) communities, along with other historically underserved communities in our city. The Transportation Equity Workgroup’s efforts are helping to inform all our working, including a wide range of programs, projects, and initiatives, and future public engagement, as we center equity every day. This includes listening to perspectives and voices of women in the Seattle community and beyond, as we plan future improvements to Seattle’s transportation system. 

We also operate our Women and Minority owned Business (WMBE) Program, which works with women and minority business owners regarding how to effectively advance and grow their businesses through working with SDOT. The WMBE program also helps to generate economic vitality for more people in the city of Seattle by offering development, support, resources, and targeted outreach to WMBE firms.

As we continue to celebrate and highlight the accomplishments of women in honor of Women’s History Month, we spoke with a few of our SDOT colleagues about their careers and what this month means to them. 

Dawn Schellenberg, Director, Communications and Public Engagement, SDOT  

Photo of Dawn Schellenberg, who is the Director of Communications and Public Engagement at the Seattle Department of Transportation, with the City of Seattle.
Photo of Dawn. Photo Credit: Dawn Schellenberg

What is your role at SDOT? What led you to wanting to work in this field? 

I currently work as the Director of our Communications and Public Engagement Office. When I was younger, I could not have imagined myself in such a public-facing position. I was pretty shy. My passion for protecting the environment and a strong belief that communities impacted by government decisions should be involved and have a say led me to where I am today. It started in college while taking urban geography and learning about resource management and has continued throughout my career ranging from implementing curbside recycling programs to public involvement consulting to my role at SDOT. 

What is your favorite part of your job? What gets you excited to come to work? 

The people I work with play a prominent role in keeping me invested in our work. Their passion for developing solid public policy, expanding community engagement to reach more and more people, keeping travelers safe, and fighting the climate emergency is inspiring. Being part of teams implementing tried and true solutions and piloting new innovative ideas and services is exciting. We work in a department where our work is evident, and it is satisfying to move around the city and see the results. 

What does Women’s History Month mean to you, and why is it important that we celebrate it each March?  

Every day I show up to work, I consider how my actions can influence the next generation of people who identify as women. Standing with our colleagues, helping them navigate and change systems, encouraging them to be ‘loud’ is very important. I had a mentor at my first professional job who was fired for becoming pregnant while single in the early 70s. She did not give up but persevered and helped pave the way for people my age to step into the workforce. One can look back over hundreds of years and see women fighting for human rights. Sometimes successfully, sometimes not. But the momentum of these efforts has forced doors to open, and we must continue to do the same for future generations. On the lighter side, Women’s History Month gives me a reason to reach out to women I know worldwide and celebrate them. 

What career advice would you give to women who are newer in their careers or exploring their professional interests at SDOT and beyond? This could be general advice based on your experiences, or more specific to your area of expertise or specialty in your role. 

Be bold. When you read a job description, don’t assume you should not apply just because you believe you might not have all the skills required. Active listening, strategic collaborative thinking skills, and coherent storytelling can take you far in an interview and work. Once you are hired, search for people who are open to identifying work opportunities for you and have coffee and talk about approaches to challenging tasks. Dialogue with your colleagues often to get a more holistic understanding of your workplace’s mission, challenges, and value. Doing so can also open doors to new possibilities as people get to know you and what you bring to the workplace. 

Holly Krejci, Talent Management Partner, SDOT People, Culture and Logistics (PCL) 

Photo of Holly Krejci, who is a Talent Management Partner with the Seattle Department of Transportation's People, Culture and Logistics Group, with the City of Seattle. Holly smiles at the camera on a sunny day outside.
Photo of Holly. Photo Credit: Holly Krejci 

What is your role at SDOT? What led you to wanting to work in this field? 

I’ve held a few roles at SDOT – executive assistant (EA) to former department director, Peter Hahn; facilities manager, and now am serving as a talent management partner in PCL’s talent management and acquisition unit. This is a new-to-me role and area.  

I came to public service via community advocacy work. I started as a legislative aide for a City Councilmember, then to SDOT, then to the Mayor’s Office, back to SDOT, an out-of-class role with Seattle HR, and then back to SDOT. I guess you could say all roads lead me back to SDOT.  

What is your favorite part of your job? What gets you excited to come to work? 

I really enjoy the people. It’s humbling to serve with people who bring their smarts, talent, and lived experiences to better the lives of those they may never meet. When it comes to being at SDOT, I love that we build things and that transportation touches a person’s life, every single day. 

What does Women’s History Month mean to you, and why is it important that we celebrate it each March?  

It means remembering to pause and celebrate. This is important in everything we do. Having a month dedicated to it gives us a sort of permission to say, ‘Yea, us!’ and ‘Woohoo, you!’ What might it look like to uplift women each day of the year? 

What career advice would you give to women who are newer in their careers or exploring their professional interests at SDOT and beyond? This could be general advice based on your experiences, or more specific to your area of expertise or specialty in your role. 

I didn’t listen to any of the amazing advice I got when I was younger. So maybe I’m not the best to ask. That said, I will offer a phrase that has really helped me make meaning of many things: “Rejection is the Universe’s protection.” I’ve had some bumpy transitions in the past five years. When I’ve come at the twists from a place of curiosity, been still in the moment and listened, I’ve learned more and more about who I am, what matters to me, and how I want to show up in the moment. To me, that’s what it’s all about – learning, growing, and leading with love. 

Missy (Melissa) Paulus, Asphalt Paving Manager, SDOT Maintenance Operations Division 

Collection of articles and images featuring Missy Paulus, including a photo of Missy, and cutouts of recent articles and name and title placards from Missy's desk.
Collection of articles and images featuring Missy. Photo credit: Missy Paulus 

What is your role at SDOT? What led you to wanting to work in this field? 

I work as the Asphalt Paving and Equipment Pool Manager in the Pavement Engineering and Right of Way (ROW) Crew Construction Division. As a child, I grew up playing with trucks and had a strong interest in wanting to one day operate heavy equipment. I was determined to follow a career path that would lead to my dream. During the winter months, I also contribute to our snow and ice response efforts, when major storms hit. 

What is your favorite part of your job? What gets you excited to come to work? 

I’ve always loved asphalt paving. We can take a street with major challenges in terms of potholes or aging, damaged pavement, and make it beautiful again. There’s an instant gratification in that work, and neighbors come out and thank us for making a big improvement.  

What does Women’s History Month mean to you, and why is it important that we celebrate it each March?  

Women’s History Month to me means seeing the improving opportunities for women everywhere, especially in the skilled trades. I’ve worked in the trades over 29 years and have seen positive changes that should be celebrated!  

What career advice would you give to women who are newer in their careers or exploring their professional interests at SDOT and beyond? This could be general advice based on your experiences, or more specific to your area of expertise or specialty in your role. 

Go after what you want, work hard, and learn from others that are in a skilled trade or craft you’re interested in. Find all the information about the trade so you know it’s what you’re looking to do.  Sometimes it can feel challenging, but I encourage you stay positive and don’t give up. Maintain an “I am going to do this” mindset and stick with it until you begin to see results.  

Thank you again to these three women leaders highlighted today for sharing their stories. Dawn, Holly, and Missy are just some of the many amazing women who work at SDOT, making major impacts in Seattle’s multimodal transportation system every day. 


In recent years, we have celebrated Women’s History Month, and have also highlighted the stories and accomplishments of several other women leaders who work at SDOT.

Learn more about these women who have paved the path for themselves and others by clicking on their name to be led to their Roadside Chat!

Mildred Slade, Senior Warehouser, SDOT Maintenace Operations Division  

Jess Kim, Associate Civil Engineer, SDOT Capital Projects Division

Margo Dawes, New Mobility Data and Equity Lead, SDOT Transit and Mobility 

Group photo of the SDOT Change Team smiling into the camera in the City of Seattle.
SDOT Change Team members. Margo Dawes and Jess Kim have both been co-chairs of the Change Team. Photo Credit: SDOT 

Kenya Bostic, Traffic Permit Counter Specialist, SDOT Signal Design and Field Operations  

Marilyn Scott, Street Maintenance Supervisor North, SDOT Maintenance Operations Division  

Marilyn (second from left with red hat and Seattle Seahawks jersey) with two Crew Chiefs who she supervises and the north Seattle tool room coordinator.
Marilyn (second from left with red hat) with two Crew Chiefs who she supervises and the north Seattle tool room coordinator. Photo Credit: SDOT

Additional resources to learn more and get involved 

There are many programs available support women advancing in transportation, construction, and leadership roles in the greater Seattle region, and we’ve highlighted a few partner organizations and resources that focus on these opportunities. 

Women’s Transportation Seminar (WTS) Puget Sound / Seattle Chapter 

The Women’s Transportation Seminar (WTS) is an international organization that’s vision is to strengthen equity and access for women in transportation. 

Apprenticeship and Non-Traditional Employment for Women (ANEW) 

ANEW aims to improve accessibility for women in non-traditional career pathways, with the goal to provide support and quality training.  

U.S. Department of Labor Women’s Bureau 

The U.S. Department of Labor Women’s Bureau webpage provides an extensive range of information, apprenticeships, grants, and resources for women across the nation.  

In conclusion

As Women’s History Month comes to a close, our team is committed to serving the public year-round, while elevating the experiences and platforms of historically underserved communities. 

Our mission at SDOT to provide accessible and equitable transportation options to all is a continuous goal we strive towards every day to bring the entire Seattle community together as One Seattle. Thank you, and have a great rest of Women’s History Month 2022 – and beyond!