Breed appoints hydrologist Newsha Ajami to the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission

Newsha Ajami is a senior research associate at the Stanford Woods Institute for the Environment. (Courtesy Stanford University)

Newsha Ajami is a senior research associate at the Stanford Woods Institute for the Environment. (Courtesy Stanford University)

Mayor London Breed on Wednesday appointed Newsha Ajami, director of Urban Water Policy at Stanford University’s Water in the West program, to the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission.

The hydrologist is also a senior research scholar at the Woods Institute for the Environment and serves as a gubernatorial appointee to the Bay Area Regional Water Quality Control Board.

Breed said that Ajami “brings a deep knowledge of water policy, as well as years of experience working in the public sector to advance important resources issues.”

“She is incredibly qualified to serve on the SFPUC, and will bring a fresh perspective to 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,” Breed said.

Ajami, who has resided in San Francisco for nearly two years, said she will focus on helping “our community achieve a reliable and equitable water and power future, as we invest in climate safe and resilient infrastructure solutions.”

The mayor appoints all five members of the commission, subject to approval by the Board of Supervisors. The SFPUC, which has a $1.4 billion annual operating budget, is in charge of delivering drinking water to 2.7 million people in the Bay Area along with managing The City’s sewer system and generating power for public and private customers.

Ajami will play a role in hiring a new head of the agency. Former general manager Harlan Kelly resigned from the post after he was charged by federal prosecutors with fraud for bribery allegations that came to light as part of an ongoing FBI corruption probe at City Hall. Kelly maintained his innocence in a Nov. 30 resignation letter to the commission.

The commission will select three candidates for the job and refer them to Breed to hire one.

Ajami is Breed’s fourth new appointment to the commission in two years. She previously appointed former District 10 Supervisor Sophie Maxwell to the commission, along with labor leader Tim Paulson. This year, Breed appointed former SFPUC head Ed Harrington to the commission.

Breed also reappointed Anson Moran, another former SFPUC head, to the commission in 2018. Moran was first appointed to the body in 2009 by then-Mayor Gavin Newsom.

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