By Martie Thompson

As a young boy growing up in East St. Louis, new Mandarin Community Club board member Dan Lahey said he watched the construction of the St. Louis Arch from a treehouse in his backyard. Fascinated with the construction, he now believes that might have been an early indicator of his eventual career as a civil engineer. Lahey and his family moved to Florida when he was a freshman at Illinois State University; he transferred to Florida State University and earned a degree in psychology before eventually returning to school at the University of Florida and earning his civil engineering degree. He has lived and worked in Jacksonville for the past 35 years. He and his wife Terrie, a retired adult studies educator at Florida State College at Jacksonville, have four adult daughters and six grandchildren … with one more on the way in July.

Q: How did you make the switch from working in the field of psychology to becoming a civil engineer?
A: After I graduated from Florida State, I worked in the field of psychology for a few years and then I discovered I didn’t like people as much as I thought! That’s a joke, but I really did feel the need to do something else, so I went back to school to become a civil engineer. After I earned my degree, I moved to Jacksonville and I’ve worked in the civil engineering field for the last 35 years. I’m currently employed by the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT).

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Q: Are there any local projects that readers might recognize that you have worked on with FDOT?
A: I was the construction manager for the Express Lanes project on Interstate 295 near Mandarin. The construction took between five and six years, longer than anyone thought it would. Basically as the construction manager, I watch what the contractor builds, and if they do it correctly, I pay them with taxpayer money — which, as a taxpayer, is my money too. I think everyone at FDOT is proud of the roadway system we have in Florida. 

Q: How did you come to be a board member at the Mandarin Community Club?
A: I’m very active at St. James Catholic Church, which has been meeting at the Mandarin Community Club for about two years now. It seemed like a good idea to have representation on the board. St. James is not in the same diocese as St. Joseph’s Catholic Church; it is a Personal Ordinariate of the Chair of St. Peter. Basically, it is part of an effort on the part of Pope Benedict to bring Anglican communion into the Roman Catholic Church.

Q: When did you start on the Mandarin Community Club board of directors and what are your thoughts so far?
A: I started in January 2022. We have monthly meetings, but there have also been more meetings with the upcoming Mandarin Art Festival. The planning for this huge event has been very impressive and being new, I have mostly been watching at this point. We have a very diverse group of board members with many talents. I think I bring my engineering expertise to the board and hope to make a contribution in the area of maintenance and repairs of the physical property by utilizing my knowledge of the construction industry. The board is a well oiled machine and they’ve all been very welcoming. I look forward to working with them.

Q: What do you like to do in your spare time?
A: Lately I’ve been doing projects around our house. I’m presently figuring out new flooring in the living areas and last year I painted the house.

Photo courtesy Dan Lahey
Dan Lahey and wife Terrie recently celebrated 41 years of marriage.

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