ASCE has honored Karen C. Kabbes, P.E., D.WRE, ENV SP, F.ASCE, with the 2017 Margaret S. Petersen Award for her technical achievements, ASCE leadership, and commitment to mentoring women pursuing engineering careers that concur with the ideals the award’s namesake championed throughout her life.
Kabbes is a registered professional engineer in the state of Illinois and a Diplomate of the American Academy of Water Resources Engineers. She has had a distinguished career with the Illinois Department of Transportation, where she served as head of the Northeastern Illinois Floodplain Regulatory Unit, before serving as the chief engineer of the Lake County Stormwater Management Commission, and then acting as the executive director of the Fox Waterway Agency. In 1977 she established her own firm, Kabbes Engineering Inc., where she has been CEO since the company’s inception.
She has logged almost three decades of service to both ASCE and EWRI. In 1999, the year EWRI was founded, she joined the EWRI Section and Branch Activities Council, and became EWRI president in 2014. As president, she wrote in her vision statement that ASCE Section and Branches are to be carefully cultivated as direct portals to local engineers who may never travel to a national EWRI activity. Her peers recognize the important role that she provides to our profession by building on her own experiences when mentoring young women both during their university experience and in the workplace.
Kabbes earned her engineering degree from the University of Illinois at Urbana–Champaign civil engineering program in 1977, and in 1981 she earned a master’s degree in public policy from the University of Illinois in Chicago.
The Margaret S. Petersen Award recognizes a female member of ASCE or EWRI who has demonstrated exemplary service to the water resources and environmental science and engineering community.