Liji Thomas to lead new office beginning May 9
The Metropolitan Water District of Southern California has named its first chief diversity, equity and inclusion officer to head a new office created to propel and support a positive workplace for employees across the district.
Liji Thomas, who has led DE&I initiatives at various organizations including Southwest Airlines and Southern California Edison, will begin in her new role at Metropolitan on May 9.
“The creation of this new position is one of many changes underway at Metropolitan to build an environment that reflects our values, priorities and commitment to our employees,” said Metropolitan General Manager Adel Hagekhalil. “I am excited about the impact that Liji will have, as we continue on our journey to create the workplace we are striving for.”
Thomas is currently senior vice president of diversity, equity and inclusion at Beautycounter, a clean beauty and skincare company based in Santa Monica. From 2018 to 2020, she served as head of diversity and inclusion at Southern California Edison, a role she was recruited for after consulting for a variety of Fortune 500 companies. She got her start in DE&I initiatives in 2012, when she was tapped to lead those efforts at Southwest Airlines. For 15 years prior to leading DE&I at Southwest Airlines, Thomas served in a variety of roles across audit, compliance, risk management and business strategy functions. Thomas also serves as a DE&I course facilitator in the online program at Cornell University.
In her new role, Thomas will create new policies and drive reforms to existing policies and practices that foster and institutionalize a culture of equity and inclusion at Metropolitan. She also will direct strategies aimed at attracting diverse candidates who enhance the workplace culture and use a diversity, equity and inclusion lens to address disparities in Metropolitan’s contracting and economic development operations. In addition, Thomas will lead Metropolitan’s approach to effectively engage underserved communities and direct community engagement programs.
The Chief DE&I officer is one of three new positions created by Hagekhalil. The district recently announced its selection of Chief Sustainability, Resiliency and Innovation Officer Liz Crosson and Chief Equal Employment Opportunity Officer Jonaura Wisdom.
The Metropolitan Water District of Southern California is a state-established cooperative that, along with its 26 cities and retail suppliers, provide water for 19 million people in six counties. The district imports water from the Colorado River and Northern California to supplement local supplies, and helps its members to develop increased water conservation, recycling, storage and other resource-management programs.