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The Ten - With Chris Howley 
In City Communications, we love to highlight our City of Knoxville employees who are so passionate about their work. 

Enjoy this Q&A with Chris Howley, Knoxville Engineering Planning Chief, who oversees the City's Stormwater Division. We caught up with Chris recently to find out what he enjoys most about his work and also to hear about his favorite past times.


1. Tell us about yourself, Chris. Where are you from?  
I am a long-time native Knoxvillian. I was born and raised in this area, and really love it. With the exception of living in New Hampshire for a year while growing up and living in Atlanta for my first engineering job, I have always been here.

2. How long have you been working with the City of Knoxville, and what is your role here? 

I have been with the City for a little over 22 years. During that time, I have held a few different positions that have all been in the Stormwater Division of the Department of Engineering. In my current position I oversee the various aspects of the Stormwater Division including constructing stormwater projects, resolving flooding and water quality problems, GIS mapping, reviewing plans and plats for new development, and making sure things get built right!

3. How many employees work with you? Tell us about your staff.

I have about 30 on my staff. They are a great group to work with, which is one of the things that makes my job enjoyable. They have a wide variety backgrounds. Some have only been with the City for a year or two, and a few have been with City longer than I have. It is great to have both kinds of folks who have the history of how things have occurred and also those with a fresh perspective. Early this year, our space in the City County building was redesigned and reconfigured, and the Plans Review and Inspections team has joined us on the fourth floor. It has been great year getting to know and working closer with this group.

4. What do you enjoy most about your work with the City? 

I have really enjoyed seeing the transformation of our City. In working for the City for a fairly long time, I have been impressed with how much measurable change has occurred: Downtown, South Knox waterfront, outdoor recreation, etc.

5. For new graduates in engineering, what would you recommend to them as they start out in their professions? 

Be flexible and versatile. Understand that most of what you do will be “problem solving.” Prioritize in all that you do, and learn as many skills as you possible can.

6. Tell us about your family.
My wife’s name is Kristi, which many find funny since our names are so similar. She is a dietician and works for Children’s Hospital with children who have diabetes or cystic fibrosis. We have two “kids.” My son is 26 and works for Kroger, and he enjoys skateboarding, snowboarding and traveling. Our daughter is 24 and is starting her third year in Pharmacy school. She likes walking her dog and backpacking when she gets a break from school.

7. You are quite the music fan. Tell us more about the kinds of music you enjoy and some annual music festivals you don’t want to miss. 
I like a wide variety of music, which is one of the reasons why I like to go to music festivals. You always get the opportunity to hear music that you would have never been exposed to otherwise. I also feel that live music has more energy and excitement than just listening to songs through your headphones. I am excited about the “Exit 111” music festival this fall, as it has a great lineup including Lynyrd Skynyrd, Def Leppard, ZZ Top and Guns and Roses.

8.  Also, since you love music, do you play an instrument, and have you played in a band?
I used to play the saxophone and was in the school band but stopped playing in Middle School. I currently have a guitar that I try to play, but I am quite the beginner.

9.  What other pastimes do you enjoy?
I love to spend time outdoors and many things I enjoy are just that — hiking, backpacking, running, mountain biking, skiing, kayaking, fishing, triathlons and other races. I also really enjoy traveling to new and different places. My daughter and I have regularly hiked sections (each section is usually about 100 miles) of the Appalachian Trail during summer vacations. I think we have completed about 600 miles so far.

10. Finally, what has surprised you the most in your work with the City?

How fast the time has flown by! The past 22 years seem like it has only been a five or so.

Posted by On 21 August, 2019 at 12:07 PM