Westlands Water District’s board of directors named Allison Febbo as its next general manager on Tuesday, making her the first woman to lead the nation’s largest irrigation district.
She succeeds Tom Birmingham, who was forced from the top spot after reform-minded growers captured the board majority in elections last year. Birmingham, an attorney, led the Fresno-headquartered district for 22 years. often battling environmentalists and the government in court.
“I am honored the board has entrusted me to serve as Westlands’ next general manager. I am committed to ensuring a sustainable, diverse water supply and continuing the high-quality services provided by the district,” Febbo said in a news release. “Westlands has long been recognized as a leader in California water policy, and I look forward to working collaboratively with staff, water users, and other agencies to explore and implement creative, comprehensive, and climate-resilient approaches.”
Board President Points to Febbo’s ‘Proven Track Record’
Westlands Board President Jeff Fortune told the San Joaquin Valley Sun that Febbo is the right fit for the challenges the district faces and the success it wants to have.
“Allison is a pragmatic, collaborative leader with a proven track record of bridging the gap between science, engineering, and policy related to California’s complex water resource systems,” Fortune said. “She brings technical expertise and civic mindset needed to ensure a sustainable water future for the environment and the hard-working families that continue to feed the world.”
Febbo will take over at Westlands on April 24.
She comes to a high-profile position with nearly 25 years of experience in natural resources, hydrology, and water operations. She is currently the general manager of Mojave Water Agency.
Before that, Febbo was the deputy operations manager for the Central Valley Operations Office for the Bureau of Reclamation. She has a bachelor’s of science in Earth and Atmospheric Science from the Georgia Institute of Technology and a master’s of science in Hydrologic Science from UC Davis.
Jose Gutierrez has served as Westlands’ interim general manager since Birmingham’s departure.