FORT WORTH, Texas  – Freese and Nichols, Inc., has promoted Jeff Payne, PE, and Tricia Hatley, PE, two longtime managers with nationally recognized leadership experience, to Executive Vice President posts as the company prepares for succession changes.

As new members of the Executive Team, Payne oversees South Central Operations, which covers Texas and Louisiana, while Hatley oversees the firm’s operations in North Carolina, Oklahoma, Georgia and Florida.

Payne has 24 years of experience in infrastructure operations and designing/leading urban and rural water transmission and wastewater conveyance projects. A key example: He managed the nationally acclaimed Lake Texoma to Wylie Pipeline project for the North Texas Municipal Water District.

He graduated from the U.S. Air Force Academy and received a master’s degree in engineering and environmental management from U.S. Air Force Institute of Technology. His 20 years of active duty and reserves service as a military engineer included three tours in the Middle East, and he retired as a Lieutenant Colonel. He is a member of the American Public Works Association, American Society of Civil Engineers and Society of American Military Engineers.

Payne is in line to become Chief Operating Officer in 2022 when current COO Larry Eckersley steps down from that role. Mike Nichols, a member of the company-namesake family, retired in 2021 as a COO overseeing offices in the Central Plains and Southeast U.S. regions.

Hatley will retain her role as Oklahoma Division Manager while also managing Freese and Nichols’ continuing expansion across the Southeast. She has 30 years of experience, with technical expertise in transportation planning and design, drainage analysis and capital improvement planning. She also is proficient at managing large multidiscipline projects.

Hatley has played critical roles in developing the firm’s offices in Dallas, Oklahoma City and Tulsa. As an Institute for Sustainable Infrastructure-credentialed Sustainability Professional (ENV-SP), she is skilled in creating sustainable project alternatives for clients. She also has held multiple state and national leadership roles in professional associations and currently serves as President of the National Society of Professional Engineers.

She received her civil engineering degree from Oklahoma State University and is a member of WTS and the American Public Works Association.

Freese and Nichols, Inc., is a professional consulting firm serving clients across the Southeast and Southwest United States. With sustainability and client-centered innovation in mind, Freese and Nichols plans, designs and manages infrastructure projects. It is the first engineering/architecture firm to receive the Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award. Learn more at