Pat Natale certainly remembers this part of his former duties.
Every spring the ASCE executive director calls each of the newly elected Distinguished Members to give them the good news. As recently as 2014, Natale made those calls, as he had for 12 years.
This time, though, the roles were reversed.
“Receiving that call this year [from Tom Smith] was quite interesting,” said Natale, P.E., CAE, Dist.M.ASCE, the former ASCE executive director recently named to the 2016 class of ASCE Distinguished Members. “I was speechless. I really didn’t know what to say. I find it hard to believe that I’m in the same category of these icons of our profession.”
Today Natale is a vice president with Mott MacDonald, and living in Flemington, NJ. His record of achievement as a leader has established Natale as a respected champion of civil engineering whose initiatives have both pushed the profession forward while also financially strengthening the organizations in his charge.
Natale says he knew he wanted to be an engineer from an early age, having admired his crane-operator grandfather. He developed his work ethic and leadership skills through high school sports and work with the Boy Scouts (he was among the country’s youngest Eagle Scouts).
After graduating from Newark College of Engineering, Natale worked for Public Service Electric and Gas, the largest public utility in New Jersey, where he worked for 28 years, holding numerous top-level management positions. Natale was responsible for managing sales, marketing, strategic planning, and customer service. He also led a corporate effort to develop the process and systems required for deregulating the energy marketplace in New Jersey.
“The leadership foundation I gained at PSE&G was incredible,” Natale said. “They believed that part of growing leaders in the company was to encourage us to be engaged in civic and professional organizations.”
Natale began taking on various service roles – presidential duties for the New Jersey Society of Professional Engineers, and serving on the national board for the National Society of Professional Engineers as a director and as treasurer for five years. He also served on the Board of Goodwill Industries in New Jersey, and held the position of chairman for five years. During this time he also served on several other civic and professional boards.
“Getting involved at the national level in the professional community was a wonderful thing,” Natale said.
He spent four years as the executive director of NSPE before taking the same role at ASCE.
“All of those other paths led me to where I belonged,” Natale said. “I belonged at ASCE. I loved what I did there – our mission, our vision, our members, our leaders and, most importantly, our staff did some incredible things.”
Natale defined his time at ASCE as one that worked with other organizations to unify the engineering community, elevate the conversation surrounding the need for infrastructure investment, commit to improving diversity in the engineering workforce, and stabilize ASCE finances.
His leadership efforts to establish The Vision for Civil Engineering 2025, the Raise the Bar initiative, the infrastructure Report Cards, the Envision sustainability rating and certification system, and the forthcoming Dream Big film are legacies that continue to enrich ASCE.
“Twelve years went by quickly,” Natale said. “My roles and responsibilities were perfect for me. I couldn’t have asked for anything else.”
Among his many career honors, Natale won the ASCE President’s Award, the NSPE Distinguished Service Award, the A.F. Spilhaus Leadership Award from the Council of Engineering and Scientific Society Executives, the New Jersey Institute of Technology’s Newark College of Engineering Outstanding Alumnus Award, and the American Association of Engineering Societies’ Kenneth Roe Award.
Since leaving ASCE, Natale returned home to New Jersey. He and his wife, Sheila, enjoy spending time with their granddaughters, and soaking up the sun at their vacation home at the New Jersey shore.
Distinguished Membership is the highest honor ASCE can bestow. It is reserved for civil engineers who have attained eminence in some branch of engineering or in related arts and sciences, including the fields of engineering education and construction.
The 2016 class of Distinguished Members will receive their honors at the ASCE 2016 Convention, Sept. 28 through Oct. 1, in Portland, OR.
Read about each of the 2016 Distinguished Members.