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CWA, a California nonprofit corporation, is seeking a seasoned executive with a proven track record of building support, finding solutions and improving industry standing for member water utilities. The Executive Director possesses an extensive understanding of traditional, rate-of-return regulation by public utility commissions, utility finance, including cost-of-capital. S/he is familiar with utility operations, customer needs, media communications, water quality regulations, grant and loan opportunities. S/he has a thorough grounding in statewide water policy.

The Organization

California Water Association (CWA) is a 501(c)(6) nonprofit association formed to provide a forum for collaboration and resources for investor-owned water utilities (IOUs) in California. CWA has approximately 35 dues-paying member companies, but it represents the interests of the 98 drinking water utilities regulated by the California Public Utilities Commission. Those utilities have annual operating revenues ranging from $30,000 to more than $600 million. CWA has 11 standing committees, overseeing the areas of: Conservation; Customer Service; Finance & Accounting; Human Resources; Public Information; Public Policy; Regulatory; Safety, Security & Emergency Management; Small Company; Utility Supplier Diversity; and Water Quality. CWA hosts two conferences annually—Sacramento in the spring and Monterey in the fall.


The Location

Currently, the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) is headquartered in San Francisco (with offices in Sacramento and Los Angeles), while the State Water Resources Control Board (SWRCB), the Department of Water Resources (DWR), the Governor and the California State Legislature are in Sacramento. The current Executive Director resides in the Bay Area and works in an office leased by CWA in San Francisco. However, as more and more CPUC principals are working out of Sacramento and more and more of CWA’s work is with the SWRCB, the DWR, the Governor’s Office, and the legislature, the Executive Director now spends more than a third of his time in Sacramento. Therefore, it is likely that the next Executive Director will need to reside within reasonable commuting distance between Sacramento and San Francisco.

CWA Priority Goals

  1. Support member companies in fulfilling their commitment to provide safe, reliable, high-quality water and excellent customer service.
  2. Demonstrate that the private sector water utility solution is fully compatible with the human right to water initiative – in a sustainable cost-effective manner – by virtue of the fact that regulated water companies have superior water quality records, are able to implement customer assistance programs, assist and consolidate troubled small systems, and undertake strategic infrastructure investments in a manner that minimizes impacts to rates.
  3. Shape and influence the business and policy environment to the benefit of member utilities and their customers.
  4. Strengthen the Association by providing resource and policy benefits to member utilities and their customers through increased company participation in CWA programs and activities.

These long-term goals are supported by more than three dozen annual goals and action items that are executed collaboratively between the Executive Director, the company committee members, the Association’s law firm, and the Association’s administrative management firm.

The Position

The Executive Director is the Chief Executive Officer of CWA. S/he reports to and serves at the pleasure of the CWA Board of Directors and is the principal executive responsible for implementing the policies developed with the Board. The Executive Director is responsible for the Association’s achievement of its mission, financial objectives, operations and functions, including overall strategic planning, revenue generation, financial management, organizational development, contract management and programs and activities.

Essential functions of the position include, but are not limited to:

Strategy and Planning:

  • Leads the Association and manages the timely achievement of its objectives, as adopted by its Board of Directors.
  • Prepares the Strategic Plan and related annual strategies and action items and provides periodic updates to the Board of Directors.
  • Drives the collaborative process with the Board of Directors, contract consultants and members that., collectively, executes the Strategic Plan.
  • Oversees preparation of the annual budget and other necessary financial documents. Provides the necessary detail and context to the Board of Directors in its budgetary review and approval process.
  • Directs activities to support the actions of CWA’s committees

Fiscal Oversight:

  • Manages the annual budget, provides consultant and vendor oversight, and directs the activities of the Association’s law firm(s).
  • Provides the necessary input to the Board on budget position, cash flow needs, and reserves.
  • Executes contracts, agreements or documents adopted by the Board.

Stakeholder Involvement:

  • Represents the Association in all matters before the CPUC, the SWRCB, the DWR, the legislature, Governor’s Office and other state agencies and associations related to the water utility industry, the public, the membership and the media. As appropriate, conveys the Association’s position(s) through written and oral testimony to the above entities at committee hearings, public hearings, meetings, workshops, etc., as well as to firms who provide professional consulting services to CWA.
  • Manages CWA’s regulatory requirements at the CPUC, the SWRCB, the DWR, the Governor’s Office of Planning & Research (OPR), the state legislature, and other key governmental agencies.
  • Coordinates, recommends and develops, as appropriate, Association legislative and other testimony, statements, reports, policies and positions before the CPUC, the legislature, and other governmental agencies.
  • Provides extensive regulatory support to small water companies.
  • Promotes CWA’s visibility and welfare through participation and membership in water industry organizations, community forums, civic organizations and non-governmental organizations.
  • Advocates at the local, regional and state levels for the CPUC-regulated water utilities on water, utility, ownership, and financial (tax) issues that affect CWA member companies.
  • Serves as the chief spokesperson for the Association through all forms of media with all key audiences; protects and promotes the CWA brand.
  • Serves as the Treasurer and Principal Responsible Officer for the CWA Political Action Committee and the CWA Political Issues Committee.

Program Development and Implementation:

  • Serves as staff executive for all standing committees of the Association.
  • Oversees and supports the development, design and delivery of program initiatives, assuring the goals and objectives are aligned with CWA’s overall strategic plan.
  • Oversees and supports the delivery of all program services to members.
  • Monitors all CWA programs for quality assurance, correcting any deficiencies in program services.

The Executive Director travels regularly to and from water industry meetings, speaking engagements, conferences, public hearings, and for various Association business needs. Travel is required to member company offices and locations to assist with their business needs and to better understand their perspectives on industry issues. Extensive travel to small water companies regulated by the CPUC is required to provide regulatory support to those utilities.

The position is coming open due to the forthcoming retirement of Jack Hawks, the current Executive Director, after 14-plus years with CWA. Depending on the person chosen for this position, there may by a brief overlap with him toward the end of 2019.


The Candidate

Minimum Training, Experience and Education

Requires a bachelor’s degree, from an accredited college or university. A graduate degree in business, public/water policy, natural resources, engineering, management or related field is preferred.

Must have strong utility experience in the United States, ideally having worked in a senior management role for at least five-to-ten years in a regulated utility or water-related organization, preferably with meaningful experience in regulatory affairs and/or accounting and financial management.

A minimum of 10 years of senior level management experience in the regulated utility industry is preferred. State or national association experience would be a plus. Should also have demonstrated experience in business management, financial planning and analysis, and/or overseeing utility operations.

The candidate will serve as an independent contractor consultant to CWA; as such, the candidate will either be self-employed or employed by a separate consulting or management firm.


Knowledge, Skills and Abilities

The selected candidate should have skills in organizational leadership and development, budget and resource development, and strategic planning. S/he should also have outstanding people (i.e., leadership, negotiation and conflict resolution) skills, with an ability to partner with a dynamic leadership team. Excellent communications and presentation skills are important. Exceptional writing and editing skills are essential because of the heavy workload in producing regulatory filings, testimony, legislation and legislative support documents.

In addition, the person selected must have proven ability in building relationships with elected officials, governmental appointees, regulatory agencies and other public sector agencies, and be able to facilitate problem-solving. S/he must also be able to assist the diverse member companies of CWA to work together in accomplishing CWA goals.

Interpersonal Communications: Must be able to communicate clearly with tact, judgment, empathy, energy and a good sense of humor, utilizing strong organizational and leadership skills. Must be able to direct and work cooperatively with CWA’s attorneys, policy advisors, consultants and vendors in a manner that demonstrates synergies to CWA’s Board of Directors.

Language Ability: Requires the ability to listen to extensive discussions and provide a concise summary of all pertinent data, including all legal and historical aspects. Requires the ability to read and prepare a variety of correspondence, reports, speeches, presentations, forms, newsletters, budgets, etc. using prescribed formats and assuring that such documentation is correct in form and style. Must be able to speak to individuals, small groups and large audiences with poise, voice control and confidence.

Numerical Aptitude: Requires the ability to utilize mathematical formulas and basic mathematical principles in an accurate and timely manner. Must be able to understand corporate financial statements and produce same for small water utilities regulated by the CPUC.

Interpersonal Temperament: Requires tact, judgment, empathy, organization skills, energy, and a good sense of humor, as well as the ability to deal with a wide range of personalities and people from varied socio-economic backgrounds. Must be adaptable and able to perform under stress when confronted with difficult and contentious situations.


Management Style and Personal Traits

The selected candidate should be flexible and able to multi-task; work within an ambiguous, fast-moving environment, while also driving toward clarity and solutions; and demonstrate resourcefulness in setting priorities and guiding investment in people and systems. S/he should be a visionary leader who “sees the big picture” (i.e., has a statewide perspective), yet is also able comfortable “drilling down” into the details; is politically astute; collaborative, yet decisive; willing to take reasonable risks; is creative and results-oriented. This person should foster high standards in all services provided (internal and external). In addition, s/he should work collaboratively with the Board and keep the Board informed in a timely and accurate manner (no surprises); ability to delegate and monitor consultant work without micro-managing; and be active in meeting CWA members and attending professional conferences.


The position requires personal qualities of integrity, credibility, and a commitment to the mission of CWA. Importantly, the candidate must have a passion for drinking water in California and especially the customer and employee needs of drinking water utilities. The organization is seeking someone who is respected, transparent, intelligent, and a quick learner. S/he should be tough/firm, but not overbearing, as well as patient and approachable.



The CWA Executive Director is not an employee of the Association, but an independent contractor. Accordingly, the annual compensation will be payable in a monthly contract fee, amount to be negotiated and dependent upon the qualifications of the selected candidate.


How to Apply

Please submit your resume and cover letter to CWA Administrative Director Melissa Manchester, melissa@cwacontent.local. Cover letter should include your name; current title and organization; largest number of Board members to whom you have reported; largest annual operating budget overseen; experience with management of law firms and/or government relations (i.e., lobbying) consulting firms; experience managing conferences and events, including setting the program and identifying speakers; and a detailed response on how you, as the CWA executive director, would address the following:

  • Executing the regulatory plan with the California Public Utilities Commission, in concert with the association’s law firm and its Regulatory Committee;
  • Executing the association’s regulatory plan with the State Water Resources Control Board, again in concert with the association’s law firm and its Public Policy Committee;
  • Executing the association’s annual legislative plan, in concert with the association’s senior policy advocate and Public Policy Committee;
  • Building relationships (e.g., with member utilities; industry stakeholder groups; elected officials; business organizations; local, state and federal representatives; academic institutions; consumer and environmental justice NGOs; and industry organizations such as ACWA, CMUA, CUWA; and other relevant organizations;
  • Protecting cost-of-service regulation and investor-owned water utilities from imminent domain threats.


Timeline for Selection Process

July 10, 2019                                       Candidate Responses Due

July 31, 2019                                       Initial Search Committee Screening Completed

August 2019                                        Conduct In-Person Interviews with Select Candidates

September 2019                                 Conduct Final Round of Interviews

October-November 2019                    Identify Successor and Complete Contract Negotiations

November 15, 2019                            Status Report at Annual Directors Meeting

December 13, 2019                            Introduce New Executive Director at Annual Executive Committee Meeting

January 1, 2020                                   Official Start Date