The Top Ten Public Works Leaders of the Year award seeks to inspire excellence and dedication in public service by recognizing the outstanding career service achievements of individual public works professionals and officials, from both the public and private sectors. The primary focus of the award is on career service to the public works profession rather than on any one single event or project.


It is the intent of this award to recognize the career service accomplishments of public works professionals and officials. Toward that end, candidates with a minimum of 10 years qualifying experience may be nominated from any of the following categories. APWA membership is required. Members of the APWA Board of Directors are not eligible during the time they serve on the Board. Individuals are only eligible to receive the Top Ten Public Works Leaders of the Year Award on one occasion.

Public Sector

Public sector candidates may come from any of the three following categories having a minimum of 10 years qualifying experience:

  • Any non-elected employee of a federal, state, provincial, county, or municipal government who is responsible for one or more major subdivisions of a governmental agency. Most of the candidate‚Äôs time and efforts must be devoted to the administration and management of the design, construction, maintenance, and/or operation of a street or highway system, refuse collection or disposal system, public building, drainage or flood control facility, airport, harbor, utilities, or any other type of public works installation
  • Service in an appointed (non-elected) position on a board or commission charged with the oversight or policy level review of public works or infrastructure issues. Such service may have been at the federal, state, provincial, county, or municipal government level dealing with surface transportation systems, refuse, solid waste and recycling systems, public buildings, drainage or flood control, airports, harbors, or any other type of public works or infrastructure systems. Such positions may typically be represented by the following examples: City Manager, Public Works Commissioner, Roads Commissioner, Highway Commissioner, Transportation Commissioner, Airport Commissioner, Port Authority Commissioner, or other comparable position
  • Elected officials who have prior qualifying experience from either category above may also be considered as candidates.

Private Sector

Private sector public works and/or civil engineering professionals having a minimum of 10 years of involvement in public sector public works activities may be eligible, if their qualifying activities have come from the following areas:

  • Experience as a contract Director of Public Works/City Engineer or comparable position, which was provided by means of a contract service from a private sector firm to a governmental entity; or
  • A combination of prior qualifying experience in the public sector and/or service as a consultant engaged in the provision of public works-related services to the public sector.


The Top Ten Public Works Leaders of the Year are selected by five past Top Ten award recipients appointed by the APWA President.

Nomination Process

Any governmental entity, group, or individual may nominate candidates. Nominations are particularly encouraged from APWA chapters and branches. Self-nominations are not accepted. APWA membership is required. Address the following areas listed below following the same sequence. Nominations are limited to 20 pages.

Employment Record
Briefly list all employment positions dates of each position and description of each position and description of responsibilities. Begin with most current and include consulting work.

Job-Related Technical and Managerial Accomplishments
Describe all major achievements and accomplishments. State specific role in each. Include innovations in technical and/or managerial fields. Describe your commitment to advancing other people in career and profession. NOTE: This section weighs most heavily in the judging process.

Initial and Lifelong Education
Include colleges and universities attended, dates of attendance, majors, and degrees received. List attendance at professional institutes and on-the-job training.

Publications and/or Presentations
List any published articles and/or papers delivered at professional meetings.

Community Service
List organizations, activities, offices held.

List educational, professional, and civic awards include recognition for public service.

Additional Directions

Nominations should be limited to no more than 20 pages. The 20 pages do not include a letter of introduction from the chapter/nominator, or letters of recommendation, which should be limited to six.

If submission has a letter of introduction (maximum of two pages) should be placed in front of the nomination. Submittal should address the areas outlined above in the sequence stated. Letters of recommendation will be accepted provided each letter cites specific examples of professional involvement with the nominee. Letters should be placed at the end of the nomination and no letters will be accepted after the nomination deadline.

Include at least one high-definition color photograph (head shot) of the nominee with submittal.


March 4, 2024, 11:59 p.m. Eastern time; electronic submittals only.


The award winners are presented with a plaque during National Public Works Week and recognized during PWX, and other such venues as the association deems appropriate. Winners are also featured in APWA publications.