Across society, women are increasingly prominent in scientific and technical fields and in management. This is also true in the water industry. Our field boasts a growing number of female managers, engineers, and entrepreneurs. In this issue of Municipal Water Leader, we focus on their accomplishments and experiences.

Our cover story features Gloria Gray, the first woman to be elected chair of the board of the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California, the vast cooperative public agency that serves 19 million people across the Los Angeles metro region. In our interview, Chairwoman Gray discusses her background, her aims for her tenure as chairwoman, and her message to policymakers.

Next, we speak with Cheryl Zittle, the senior director of water services for the Salt River Project, a major water and power supplier for the Phoenix, Arizona, metro region. Ms. Zittle discusses the importance of mentorship and seizing opportunities.

Rachel Ickert is the water resources engineering director at another major municipal water supplier, Fort Worth’s Tarrant Regional Water District. She is responsible for leading flood monitoring and water supply operations planning.

Kristen Ruffell is a division engineer at the Los Angeles County Sanitation Districts, where she is helping to provide storm water management to the county’s municipalities.

We also speak with Marian Singer, the cofounder and chief executive officer of Wellntel, a tech company that has created a cloud-based platform that uses a network of sensors installed on private wells to provide real-time groundwater-supply information to its clients.

Finally, we speak with Erin Cornwell, the engineering manager at Northwest Pipe’s Tracy, California, plant, about her projects and her experience during Northwest Pipe’s acquisition of her former employer, Ameron.

Each of these women, and many more across the United States, are making meaningful and continuous contributions to our industry: providing visionary, future-oriented leadership to its large municipal water suppliers; raising the bar for the quality of water districts’ essential, life-sustaining day-to-day operations; and bringing a new level of technological sophistication to water management tools. We hope that you enjoy reading about these impressive professionals and that you gain a new appreciation for the level of skill women in the water industry bring to the table.

Kris Polly is editor-in-chief of Municipal Water Leader and Irrigation Leader magazines. He is also president of Water Strategies LLC, a government relations, marketing, and publishing company he began in February 2009 for the purpose of representing and guiding water, power, and agricultural entities in their dealings with Congress, the Bureau of Reclamation, and other federal government agencies. He may be contacted at