Jeffrey Kightlinger is general manager and chief executive officer for The Metropolitan Water District of Southern California, a state-established cooperative that delivers water to 26 member agencies serving 19 million people in six counties.
Kightlinger was appointed general manager in February 2006. As general manager, he manages the District’s $1.8 billion annual budget and 1,800 employees to ensure the safe and reliable delivery of high quality water every day throughout Southern California. He reports to a board of 38 members representing 26 member agencies.
Kightlinger has an undergraduate degree from the University of California at Berkeley and a law degree from Santa Clara University. He serves on a number of boards including the Coro Foundation, the USC Price School of Public Policy, the UCLA Sustainability Advisory Board, the Climate Action Reserve, the California Foundation on the Environment and the Economy, the Los Angeles Economic Development Council and the Los Angeles Area Chamber of Commerce, among others.
Gerald C. Riss is the general auditor for the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California, the region's major water importer and wholesaler.Riss brings over 37 years of audit, accounting and risk management experience to Metropolitan. His responsibilities include reviewing internal controls, financial records and reports, developing a flexible annual audit plan, determining compliance with bond covenants and applicable laws and regulations, ascertaining that assets and resources are properly accounted for and safeguarded against waste, loss or misuse, and administering Metropolitan's contract for audit services with an independent public accounting firm.Prior to Metropolitan, Riss was vice president and assistant division head for the Risk Management Administration at United California Bank/Bank of the West. He also served as senior vice president, director of risk management and general auditor of Tokai Bank of California.Riss earned a bachelor's degree in accounting and a MBA in financial accounting from Wayne State University in Detroit, Michigan. He is certified as a fraud examiner, financial services auditor, risk professional and has completed the certified public accountant examination.
Prior to joining Metropolitan, Salinas worked as the Special Agent in Charge in the U.S. Department of Labor's Office of Inspector General. Based in the agency's Los Angeles Regional Office, he led investigative personnel in multi-state offices, developed policy and investigated government employees, public officials, contractors, educational institutions, businesses, and non-profit organizations for any federal and state law violations, including ethical concerns. Before joining that agency, he served for three years in the U.S. Office of Personnel Management.
Salinas holds a bachelor's degree in criminal justice from the University of Texas – Pan American and a master's degree in policy management from Georgetown University.
Deven Upadhyay is the assistant general manager and chief operating officer for Metropolitan. He is responsible for managing the operational business functions of the district, which include system operations, engineering, planning and water resources management. In this position, one of his primary duties is to implement the Chief Executive Officer's Business Plan and initiatives, as well as, to oversee the application and operational practice of the Board's policies and directives.Upadhyay began his career with Metropolitan in 1995 as a resource specialist in the Planning and Resources Division. In 2005 he left Metropolitan to work for the Municipal Water District of Orange County on water policy issues. In 2008, he returned to Metropolitan as the Budget and Financial Planning Section Manager before becoming Group Manager for Water Resources Management in 2010.An avid tennis player and a devoted Angel's baseball fan, Upadhyay earned a bachelor's degree in economics from California State University, Fullerton and a master's degree in public administration from the University of La Verne.
Katano Kasaine is the assistant general manager/chief financial officer for Metropolitan Water District of Southern California. She is responsible for directing Metropolitan's financial activities, including accounting and financial reporting, debt issuance and management, financial planning and strategy, managing Metropolitan's investment portfolio, budget administration, financial analysis, financial systems management, and developing rates and charges. In addition, she is responsible for risk management and business continuity activities.
Before joining Metropolitan in August 2019, Katano worked with the City of Oakland for 25 years, holding various leadership positions, most recently as the city's finance director/treasurer. In that position, she managed all aspects of the city's finance functions, including a $3.2 billion budget, a $1.1 billion debt portfolio, and investments and cash operations of more than $1.7 billon.
Katano also held other key executive management roles critical to the City of Oakland, including interim chief information officer, where she implemented an update of the city's HR, payroll, and budgeting system, and director of human resources, where she represented the city in key labor negotiations.
Katano has a bachelor's degree in business administration from Dominican University of California and a master's degree in public health from Loma Linda University.
Dee Zinke is the assistant general manager and chief external affairs officer at the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California, and is responsible for the agency's communications, outreach, education and legislative matters.
Zinke joined Metropolitan in 2009 as manager of the Legislative Services Section with a wealth of experience in the fields of government and public affairs, and communications.
Before coming to Metropolitan, Zinke was the manager of Governmental and Legislative Affairs at the Calleguas Municipal Water District for nearly 10 years, where she received recognition for her significant contributions to the Association of California Water Agencies, the Ventura County Special Districts Association and the Association of Water Agencies of Ventura County. During her tenure at Calleguas, Dee was named chair of the Ventura County Watersheds Coalition and appointed by then-Secretary of Resources Mike Chrisman to the State Watershed Advisory Committee, a post she still holds today.
Prior to her public service, she worked in the private sector as the executive officer and senior legislative advocate for Building Industry Association of Greater Los Angeles and Ventura Counties and Director of Communications for E-Systems, a defense contractor specializing in communication, surveillance and navigation systems in Washington, D.C.
Zinke holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Communication and Psychology from Virginia Tech.
John Bednarski is the Chief Engineer and Group Manager of Engineering Services for the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California. He is responsible for all of Metropolitan’s engineering activities, including management of the Capital Investment Plan; facility planning; construction management and inspection; project management; and infrastructure monitoring.
Bednarski joined Metropolitan as an associate engineer in 1991 after working at the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power for 10 years. His early work at Metropolitan focused on treatment plant expansions and the oxidation retrofit program. He later headed both the Program Management Unit and the Infrastructure Reliability Section within the Engineering Services Group. In the latter role, Bednarski was responsible for Metropolitan’s construction management efforts as well as infrastructure assessments, survey and mapping/GIS activities. He also oversaw the completion of the $1.1 billion Inland Feeder project. Most recently, he has led Metropolitan’s support for the conceptual design of the Delta Conveyance Project and managed the development of the Regional Recycled Water Program and the Advanced Water Purification Center demonstration plant.
Bednarski is a registered civil engineer in California and earned a bachelor’s degree in chemistry from Claremont McKenna College. He also holds a Master’s of Public Administration and a Master’s of Science degree in environmental engineering from the University of Southern California.
Diane Pitman is the Director of Human Resources for the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California. Pitman has more than 25 years of experience in the field of human resources. She is responsible for ensuring that Metropolitan’s workforce is ready for the challenges ahead. This includes recruiting and retaining the best talent, developing and training employees for future opportunities and challenges, ensuring benefits and compensation are competitive, fostering positive and effective employee and labor relations activities, workers’ compensation and risk management.
Pitman is a product of Metropolitan’s succession planning initiatives. She began her employment as a Human Resources Analyst and through challenging opportunities, rotational learning and demonstrated strategic leadership, was promoted to the most senior position in Human Resources Management in 2015. Prior to Metropolitan, Pitman worked as an HR professional in banking and technology industries, which included international HR assignments.
A California native and avid soccer player and fan, Pitman has a Master’s degree in Human Resources from Claremont Graduate University and a Bachelor’s degree in Psychology, with a minor in Human Resources, from Cal Poly Pomona.
Octavia Tucker is responsible for the acquisition, management and protection of all of Metropolitan's Real Property Assets and for developing additional revenue generating opportunities related to real property management. In addition, the group supports key projects such as the Diamond Valley Lake Recreation and Development Project, Bay-Delta Initiatives, the Regional Recycled Water Supply Program and the Right-of-Way and Infrastructure Protection Program.
Tucker joined the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California as a data entry clerk with Water System Operations in 1989 She also has served as team manager within the Business Management section and has managed the facility maintenance staff, storekeepers, and machinists as well as administrative. Tucker was promoted to Administrative Services manager overseeing corporate functions such as facilities management, contracting and procurement, and document services. She then served as a section manager in Human Resources, where she was responsible for the recruitment and classification/compensation, benefits and workforce training.
Tucker earned her bachelor's and master's degrees in business administration from the University of La Verne. In her spare time she is an avid soccer and NFL football fan.
Brad Coffey leads the Water Resource Management Group. In this role, he is responsible for planning and managing Metropolitan's imported and local water resource programs, advancing water-use efficiency and providing supply and demand forecasts for the region.
Coffey joined Metropolitan in 1990 as an assistant engineer. In a variety of increasingly responsible positions, he developed process design criteria for the district's $1.2 billion ozone retrofit program, investigated perchlorate contamination on the Colorado River, and managed Metropolitan's five water treatment plants. Most recently, Coffey served as an assistant manager for the Water System Operations Group. In this capacity, he helped manage more than 900 employees who import, treat, and deliver water throughout Southern California.
A registered professional engineer in California, Coffey earned degrees in mechanical and environmental engineering from Virginia Tech. He also holds a Master of Public Administration from the University of Southern California. Coffey has authored or co-authored more than 80 publications and conference presentations.
Brent Yamasaki is the Chief of Operations and Group Manager of Water System Operations at the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California. In this capacity, he oversees a staff of over 900 employees responsible for operating and maintaining Metropolitan's Colorado River Aqueduct, distribution system and treatment facilities; planning and scheduling water deliveries and power operations; ensuring compliance with water quality and safety regulations; providing in-house manufacturing, construction and maintenance engineering services; and responding to emergencies.
Yamasaki has more than 28 years of experience at Metropolitan in operations, planning, maintenance, water resources, engineering, and construction. He previously served as the water operations and planning section manager during the recent record drought. He also was a startup engineer during the construction and initial filling of Diamond Valley Lake, Southern California's largest reservoir. In addition, Yamasaki was involved with the subsequent conversion of the DVL pumps to include power generation during the California energy crisis in 2001.
Yamasaki is a board member and a past chairman of the California Utilities Emergency Association. He is a member of the American Water Works Association, the American Society of Mechanical Engineers, and volunteers as an assistant scoutmaster for his local Boy Scout troop.
A registered professional engineer, Yamasaki earned a bachelor's degree in mechanical engineering from Cal Poly Pomona and master's in business administration from California State University Fullerton.
Adam Kear is an assistant general counsel for the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California. He handles legal matters concerning Metropolitan’s water supplies conveyed through the State Water Project and related issues in the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta.
Kear provides legal representation to Metropolitan on key water resource matters, which have included the Delta Conveyance, Delta wastewater discharges, the Monterey Amendments to the State Water Project contracts, and the Quantification Settlement Agreement. He has successfully litigated Metropolitan cases at the trial and appellate levels and has argued before the California Supreme Court. Kear joined the Legal Department in 2000 but began his career with Metropolitan in 1990 as an engineer in the Planning and Resources Division. As a senior engineer and manager of facility planning for Metropolitan, he served as a project manager of major planning projects, including regional water infrastructure projects, habitat conservation plans, and water resource and facility plans. Kear joined Metropolitan following five years in private consulting engineering practice. In addition, he served as a commissioned engineer officer with the United States Public Health Service.
Kear is a recipient of the Wiley W. Manuel Award for Pro Bono Legal Services, is active in his community and a board member of a Los Angeles historic preservation zone, and is a graduate of the CORO program, Leadership Southern California.
Kear holds a bachelor’s degree in civil engineering from the University of Arizona and a law degree from Loyola Law School.
Sue Sims is group manager for External Affairs at the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California. She is responsible for managing the day-to-day operations of the group, including the Legislative Services Section, Media Services Section, Conservation and Community Services Section, Customer Services Unit, and External Affairs’ Business Management Team.
Before coming to Metropolitan, Sims served as the Executive Officer for the California Water Commission. In her capacity as Executive Officer, she reported directly to the Governor-appointed board and managed all aspects of the Commission’s policy, program, and administrative activities.
Prior to the Commission, Sims was the Chief Deputy Director of the California Department of Water Resources and helped manage California’s statewide policies and programs related to water management, environmental and infrastructure issues, strategic planning, and communications. She also served as the department’s Public Affairs Director.
Earlier in her career, Sims worked at Cal/EPA for the Department of Toxic Substances Control and Integrated Waste Management Board, as Chief Speechwriter and Deputy Cabinet Secretary for Governor Deukmejian, and as a White House intern during the Reagan Administration.
Sims holds a Bachelor of Arts degree from University of California, Los Angeles and a public administration management certificate from California State University, Sacramento.
Charles Eckstrom is responsible for the strategic direction and day-to-day management of Metropolitan’s information technology operations and organization.
Prior to joining Metropolitan, Charles was the Assistant Chief Information Officer and Interim CIO for the County of Orange, where he was responsible for the technology vision and the day‑to‑day information technology operations serving approximately 3.1 million citizens in the sixth largest county in the United States. Charles was named the “2017 Innovator of the Year” by the Association of California Cities, and under his leadership, the Orange County Information Technology team was awarded the “Best in Category Achievement Award for County Administration and Management” by the National Association of Counties.
Prior to the County of Orange, Charles held IT executive positions at Toshiba America Medical Systems, United Health Group, and Deloitte Consulting. He received an MBA from the University of Southern California and a BA from University of California, Santa Barbara.
April 14, 2020
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