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Board of Supervisors Unanimously Confirms Newsha Ajami for Public Utilities Commission

Nominated by Mayor London Breed, Dr. Ajami directs the urban water policy program at Stanford University

San Francisco, CA — Today the Board of Supervisors unanimously confirmed Dr. Newsha K. Ajami, Ph.D., to the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission (SFPUC). Mayor London N. Breed nominated Dr. Ajami to the Commission in December 2020. Dr. Ajami currently serves as the director of Urban Water Policy with Stanford University’s Water in the West and a senior research scholar at the Woods Institute for the Environment. Until recently, she also served as a gubernatorial appointee to the Bay Area Regional Water Quality Control Board.

“Newsha Ajami will bring a deep knowledge of water policy and a fresh perspective to the Public Utilities Commission,” said Mayor Breed. “I am excited that Newsha is joining the City and am confident that her years of experience working in the public sector will help advance the commission’s efforts to deliver clean power in our fight against climate change, improve our water and wastewater management, and create more resilient and sustainable infrastructure. As we get on the road to recovery, we’re need a citywide focus on helping San Francisco rebound and come back even stronger than before. The SFPUC has an important role to play in advancing programs and projects—from constructions and infrastructure investments to workforce development and other community benefits—that will help us do just that.”

“I am grateful for the opportunity to serve our city and community in this new role and honored for the appointment by Mayor Breed,” said Dr. Ajami. “San Francisco has been a leader over the years in tackling many social and environmental issues. I have been inspired by many conversations I have had during the past month with various member of our City’s leadership team. I look forward to working with the Mayor, the Board of Supervisors, my fellow commissioners and the dedicated staff at SFPUC across various enterprises, to develop policies to achieve long-term water and power resiliency while addressing social equity and the impacts of climate change.”

Dr. Ajami is a leading expert in sustainable water resource management, smart cities, and the water-energy-food nexus. She uses data science principles to study the human and policy dimensions of urban water and hydrologic systems. Her research throughout the years has been interdisciplinary and impact driven, focusing on the improvement of the science-policy-stakeholder interface by incorporating social and economic measures and relevant and effective communication.

Before joining Stanford, she worked as a senior research associate at the Pacific Institute from 2011 to 2013, and served as a Science and Technology fellow at the California State Senate’s Natural Resources and Water Committee where she worked on various water and energy related legislation. She was also a post-doctorate researcher with the Berkeley Water Center, University of California, Berkeley.

Dr. Ajami received her Ph.D. in civil and environmental engineering from the University of California, Irvine, an M.S. in hydrology and water resources from the University of Arizona, and a B.S. in civil and environmental engineering from Tehran Polytechnic.

The San Francisco Public Utilities Commission (SFPUC) is headed by a board compromised of five commissioners with each chosen according to criteria set forth in the San Francisco City Charter. Their responsibility is to provide operational oversight in such areas as rates and charges for services, approval of contracts, and organization policy.

Dr. Ajami will join the following members on the SFPUC:

  • Former member of the San Francisco Board of Supervisors Sophie Maxwell (appointed by Mayor Breed in 2019)
  • Longtime labor advocate Tim Paulson (appointed by Mayor Breed in 2019)
  • Former City Controller Ed Harrington (appointed by Mayor Breed in 2020)
  • Former SFPUC General Manager Anson Moran (reappointed by Mayor Breed in 2018 after first being appointed to the commission by Mayor Gavin Newsom in 2009.)

The SFPUC delivers drinking water to 2.7 million people in the San Francisco Bay Area, collects and treats wastewater for the City and County of San Francisco, and generates clean power for municipal buildings, residents, and businesses. The agency’s mission is to provide customers with high quality, efficient and reliable water, power, and sewer services in a manner that values environmental and community interests and sustains the resources entrusted to its care.