Port native steps in as N. Hempstead’s first female DPW commish

Port native steps in as N. Hempstead’s first female DPW commish
Town of North Hempstead Department of Public Works Commissioner Kristin Seleski. (Photo courtesy of the Town of North Hempstead)

After a nearly five-year vacancy, the Town of North Hempstead has hired a new Department of Public Works commissioner who will be the town’s first woman to permanently fill the position.

Port Washington native Kristin Seleski is a civil engineer and construction project manager who has been working in the field for more than 15 years. She has served as a project manager for Richter + Ratner and Sciame Construction over the past 10 years.

The Town of North Hempstead hired Seleski at its Feb, 7 meeting despite the board’s Democrats voting against the move on the grounds that they were excluded from the hiring process and not able to vet the candidates.

As the commissioner for the Department of Public Works, Seleski will be responsible for the town’s capital projects. This includes ongoing annual work like sidewalk and lighting improvements as well as large-scale projects like replacing the windows at Town Hall.

Capital plans the town has outlined in its 2024 pamphlet include improvements for Manorhaven Beach Park and Stepping Stones Lighthouse as well as wetland restoration at Hempstead Harbor.

While the position is focused on carrying out projects to serve constituent needs and fulfilling town plans, Seleski said her goal is to ensure these projects come to fruition.

The Department of Public Works is comprised of five divisions – highways, engineering, street lighting, sidewalks and fleet management – which Seleski will oversee.

Coming into a department with employees who have vast institutional knowledge, Seleski said she is seeking to learn from her colleagues as she familiarizes herself with her new post.

“I’ve just been trying to absorb their knowledge so far … and trying to use them as a resource,” Seleski said. “So I’m really going to be here to help them complete these jobs and get things moved forward.”

In her first two weeks in the job, Seleski said she has been asking millions of questions and everyone has been helpful in directing her to those answers.

“I’ve just been learning the process so that I know when someone comes to me with this kind of an issue how I’m actually supposed to move it forward or what I need to ask to then get the information to move it forward, which person I should go to with that information or direct them towards with it,” she said.

In her new position as DPW commissioner, Seleski – who described herself as a lifelong learner – said she is looking forward to developing the new skills associated with the job.

Seleski earned a civil engineering degree from Pennsylvania State University.

Upon graduation, Seleski found she wanted to be in the thick of engineering projects, pivoting from a design concentration to construction management.

During her career, she has worked on job sites learning all the aspects of construction and how to manage these projects.

Seleski has been in construction management for the past 15 years, primarily working in New York City, but then underwent another pivot in her career aspirations.

When she saw the job posting for the town commissioner position, Seleski said she realized she could now see her projects in her very own community.

“This would be so much closer to home and I get to drive by these things all the time,” Seleski said.

As the first woman to take on this role permanently, Seleski said it’s an honor but that she hopefully will not be the last.

The town’s Department of Public Works has other women employed, and Seleski said they have been a great resource to her as she leads the department.

“Hopefully, it shouldn’t matter,” Seleski said. “Whoever is the most qualified is the one who prevails, but the real issue is getting more women into engineering and civil engineering in particular.”

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