As the second female Department Head of the City of Elizabethtown, Rita Davis strives to be a good role model for girls interested in STEM.
The 38-year-old is currently the city’s stormwater director.
She moved to Elizabethtown from the western part of the state in the summer of 1996 before starting seventh grade.
After graduating from Elizabethtown High School, Davis attended the University of Kentucky and earned a degree in biosystems and agricultural engineering.
She began her career as an engineering consultant in Louisville. The family lived in Louisville and for 10 years her husband Nick commuted to work in Elizabethtown. But in 2017, a few years after having daughter Nora, they decided to return to Elizabethtown for the good schools and to be closer to family. When she became pregnant with her second child, Ian, she wanted to find a job in Elizabethtown.
It was then that she applied for the position of Assistant Stormwater Engineer with the city in 2018. In 2020, she was promoted to Director of Stormwater, only the second person to hold the position. , Davis said.
As the city’s second female department head, she said she strives to be a good role model for the girls.
“Especially for my daughter who has expressed an interest in becoming an engineer,” she said. “There has always been a shortage of women in STEM professions and it’s a passion of mine to ensure girls are initiated and know they can excel in STEM careers.”
In his work, Davis likes the variety of tasks and the ability to solve difficult problems. She also enjoys making a difference in the community and working with a good team.
“I’m proud that my actions have a positive impact on people’s lives and the environment,” she said. “We worked with FEMA to remap a few floodplains in the city and were able to remove several homes from the floodplain, saving these residents significant flood insurance premiums.”
On top of that, Davis said she’s helped the city incorporate greener solutions to stormwater management. These include options such as planting wildflowers in retention ponds and filtering runoff through a biological swale that serves as an alternative to storm sewers.
Elizabethtown Mayor Jeff Gregory said Davis was doing a “remarkable” job as manager.
“She’s patient, kind, and very responsive to audience requests, but most importantly, she’s extremely smart,” he said.
Each year, Gregory said, the city spends $3 million to $4 million on stormwater projects.
“We push her and this department to be aggressive in addressing these issues because it really puts a lot of stress on our citizens when they have water issues,” he said. “Rita handles everything like a maestro and has been able to do more than ever since we got the stormwater program. “
Elizabethtown was settled in the 1700s in a valley, Gregory said, adding that stormwater issues will still need to be addressed.
“We are blessed to have Rita’s expertise and track record to continually research ways to alleviate these issues,” he said.
Outside of work, Davis is active with her two children in the Elizabethtown Youth Soccer Association and with her daughter in the Girl Scouts.
She also competes with the Heartland Ladies League golfers.
Becca Owsley can be reached at 270-505-1416 [email protected]