Jennifer Allen is an alumnus of the Water Education Foundation’s
2011 Water Leaders Program. As the Director of Public Affairs at
Contra Costa Water District (CCWD), she oversees the outreach and
education programs offered to customers, students, and employees,
and facilitates media relations.
Richard Aragon is a graduate of the Foundation’s 2017 Water
Leaders class. He is assistant general manager-chief financial
officer/treasurer for Rancho California Water District in
Temecula, where he has worked since 2015. He helped lead the
district’s effort to provide incentives to growers to swap
water-intensive crops like avocados for less water-intensive
crops like wine grapes.
Thomas M. Berliner is a partner in the San Francisco office of
Duane Morris LLP. He focuses his practice on water, energy,
environmental and governmental/municipal law and is chair of the
Duane Morris Water Resources and Renewable Energy and
Sustainability practice groups.
Roberta Borgonovo is the Co-Program Director for Water for the
League of Women Voters of California (LWVC). During her tenure
with the League, she has focused on water conservation issues and
protection of the Bay-Delta Estuary.
Mike Chrisman, a fourth-generation Californian, is owner/partner
of Chrisman Ranches, a family ranching and farming business in
Chrisman served as California Secretary of Natural Resources from
2003 until 2010. As a member of Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger’s
cabinet, he served as the governor’s chief adviser on issues
related to the state’s natural, historic and cultural resources.
Chrisman also chaired the California Ocean Protection Council,
Sierra Nevada Conservancy and the Delta Stewardship
Ane D. Deister is executive director of the Urban Water Institute
and a consultant for HDR Engineering.
She has more than 30 years of experience in the water
resources and environmental management business, with more
than 25 years in executive leadership appointments. She was
vice president of Parsons Corporation and vice president of
Cardno ENTRIX where she was a member of the water resources
leadership team and a key member of the implementation team of
Reach 2B of the San Joaquin River Restoration Project.
As the California director of Defenders of Wildlife, Kim develops
and directs the organization’s work across the state, including
determining policy and program work in wildlife, land use, water
and energy issues.
She was a gubernatorial-appointed member of the California
Water Commission and currently serves on various coalitions
and planning efforts, including the California Roundtable on
Agriculture and the Environment, Salton Sea Coalition, The
California Rangeland Conservation Coalition and the Desert
Renewable Energy Conservation Plan Stakeholder Committee.
Bart Fisher, a third-generation farmer from Blythe, is a 19-year
member of the Palo Verde Irrigation District board of trustees,
where he has served twice as board chairman, as recently as 2017.
He is also serving his 12th year as chairman of the
Colorado River Board of California, where he represents
California’s rights in the Colorado River to the other six states
with entitlements to the river, and also to the federal
government and to the government of Mexico.
Pablo Garza is the California political director for the
Ecosystems Program at the Environmental Defense Fund. He develops
and implements policy initiatives to help achieve Environmental
Defense Fund’s water and habitat objectives.
David J. Guy is the President of the Northern California Water
Association (NCWA). For the past several decades he has worked in
various capacities to advance economic interests that promote the
conservation of California’s special places and their precious
water and land resources. He is also an adjunct professor at San
Joaquin College of Law.
Thomas Harter joined the faculty at the Department of Land, Air,
and Water Resources at University of California, Davis in 1995.
His research focuses on nonpoint-source pollution of groundwater,
groundwater resources evaluation under uncertainty, groundwater
modeling and contaminant transport. Dr. Harter’s research group
has done extensive modeling, laboratory and field work to
evaluate the impacts of agriculture and human activity on
groundwater flow and contaminant transport in complex aquifer and
Jeff Kivett is vice president of Brown and Caldwell’s Northern
California Region, overseeing a region that extends from Fresno
to the Oregon border.
Previously he was the director of operations, engineering and
construction at the South Florida Water Management District,
a senior project manager at Jacobs Engineering and project
manager at the City of Los Angeles.
Cynthia Koehler is the Executive Director of Waternow Alliance, a
forum for local leaders who want to champion sustainable,
affordable and climate resilient water strategies. She has been a
leading western water policy expert and environmental advocate
for two decades.
Mary Aileen Matheis has served on the Irvine Ranch Water District
board since 1988, as President in 2001 and as Vice President in
2005. She is an active member of several committees, including
the Water Resources Policy and Communications Committee and the
Advisory Committee to the University of California Urban Water
A sixth-generation farmer, Cannon Michael is president of Bowles
Farming Company headquartered in Los Banos, Calif. There, he
oversees an 11,000-acre farm where the company grows cotton,
fresh market and processing tomatoes, field crops, and other
Michael’s great-great-great-grandfather was Henry Miller, a
German immigrant whose partnership with Charles Lux became known
as Miller & Lux and resulted in the build-up of landholdings in
the San Joaquin Valley to more than 1 million acres.
Christopher Park is a water resource planner with CDM Smith in
He has nine years of experience focusing on environmental impact
assessment and permitting for both local and statewide water
planning projects for clients that include the Bureau of
Reclamation, Federal Emergency Management Agency, U.S. Army Corps
of Engineers, the Santa Clara Valley Water District and the
Cambria Community Services District.
Jennifer is the executive director of Leadership California, a
network of more than 1,600 accomplished women, dedicated to
advancing the leadership role of women in business, communities
and public policy.
Previously, she was deputy executive director for external
affairs and operations at the Association of California Water
Agencies, overseeing the association’s teams that work to advance
ACWA’s image/brand, issues, policies and delivery of service to
Thomas S. Philp is the executive strategist for the Metropolitan
Water District of Southern California (MWD). He works out of
MWD’s Capitol office in Sacramento, where he helps with public
affairs, local and state outreach as well as drafting key
communications for the district.
Sara Reid is Vice President and Credit Manager for CoBank, ACB
(part of the Farm Credit System) and an alumnus of the Water
Education Foundation’s 2015 Water Leaders Program. Sara
oversees the credit review and loan decision-making process for
CoBank’s 400-plus borrowers in the Western region.
Ronald B. Robie has served as an Associate Justice on the
California Court of Appeal, Third Appellate District, since 2002.
Previously he served as a judge of both the Sacramento Superior
and Municipal Courts. He was presiding judge from 1994 to 1995.
He was named “Judge of the Year” by the Sacramento County Bar
Association in 2002.
Peter S. Silva is the President of Silva-Silva International, an
engineering consulting company specializing in water policy and
regulatory affairs. He has nearly 37 years of experience in the
water and wastewater fields, and is an expert on U.S.-Mexico
border affairs in these areas. Mr. Silva served two years as the
Assistant Administrator for Water at the U.S. Environmental
Protection Agency and six years as the Vice-Chair of the State
Water Resources Control Board in California.
Rebecca Smith is a graduate of the Foundation’s 2018 Water
Leaders class. She is an attorney at Downey Brand specializing in
water law, a practice that includes work on groundwater
management and the state’s 2014 Sustainable Groundwater
Management Act, as well as the firm’s Food and Ag practice.
Yung-Hsin Sun is chief water resources engineer with Stantec,
where he has worked since 2001. Dr. Sun is a principal engineer
with 29 years of experience leading, managing, and planning
large-scale water resource projects for flood management, water
supply and ecosystem restoration.