Emerging Leader: Tonya Durrell, LA Sanitation and Environment

Emerging Leaders, Members in the News

Tonya Durrell, Director of Public Information, LA Sanitation and Environment

There’s a reason you hear happiness in the voice of Tonya Durrell, director of public information for LA Sanitation & Environment.

“I was born and raised here,” she says.  “I love this city. I love all our communities. And I love this job.”

Tonya leads the agency’s public outreach program and is responsible for communications between the agency she represents, and the communities impacted by its projects.

“I want to make sure we are transparent and respectful and that our customers know their opinions are listened to,” she says.

Her training includes a degree in public relations from Cal State Long Beach, and several years in public information work for other entities including the California African American Museum. She holds a master’s degree in conflict negotiation and peacebuilding from Cal State Dominguez Hills.

She joined the LASAN public information staff as a Specialist I, and worked her way up to director in 2015, with a team of four reporting to her.

Big challenges don’t intimidate her. She points with pride to the agency’s customer relations work during the Santa Monica Boulevard Parkway and the Venice Dual Force Main projects.

“We developed a communications program to let residents and businesses peak inside,” she says, citing a comprehensive e-mail program and daily updated phone messages which alerted customers to construction schedules and traffic disruptions. “We had lots of opportunities to think creatively.”

Efforts like these, Tonya believes, will help her and her staff in preparation for interacting with the public as the city’s Hyperion treatment plant moves toward closed loop water recycling by 2035. “I see us as the go-to for public constituents,” she says.

The support of agency management is critical to communications success, Tonya says. “I look up to our management, women in particular, and how they’ve cultivated a working relationship with the city. They’re very customer oriented. We are fortunate to be driven by people who understand the value of listening.”

It’s obvious she loves them, too.