Meet Emerging Leader: Christina Claxton, Laboratory Analyst

Emerging Leaders, Women in Water


Christina Claxton, Laboratory Analyst, City of San Luis Obispo

Christina Claxton does far more than analyze drinking water and wastewater samples in her position as a Laboratory Analyst with the City of San Luis Obispo’s Water Quality Laboratory. 

She’s on a mission to improve communications, succession planning, and the opportunities for employees to grow professionally and personally.  

“As a leader who is compassionate about water quality and maintaining a positive work environment, Christina is taking on big problems that go way beyond her daily duties as a laboratory analyst,” said Carrie Mattingly, who nominated her. 

Specifically, Claxton has led the development of SLO’s Utilities Healthy and Smart program, participated in the city’s Leadership development program, and helped with the city’s Day of Welcome program for new employees. 

Claxton has a microbiology degree from Cal Poly, and an M.A. in transpersonal psychology. She was an intern at SLO’s water resource recovery laboratory before joining the staff full-time 12 years ago.  

While working daily to ensure the facility is meeting its permit requirements, Claxton and her colleagues are preparing for a $100 million upgrade of the SLO treatment facility. The project will involve new testing procedures and laboratory pilot studies to identify processes that will meet new requirements  

Her work outside the lab is just as critical. 

“I have been a water quality analyst for a long time and while I still enjoy my duties as an analyst, I wanted to connect with people on a deeper, more meaningful level,” she says. 

The Healthy and Smart program which she coordinates is designed to improve employee well-being, communication, and teamwork, while making work place systems smarter and more efficient.  “I work with a great group of people. Largely, we’ve focused on succession planning,” Claxton says. “We have a lot of management and staff who are starting to retire. We want to document the knowledge leaving the department by before it gets lost.”  

Communication is a vital element, Claxton believes. “We work to break down the barriers between different sections in the department, and identify gaps which need to be bridged. “People are happy about having another avenue of communication,” she says.  

“The organization is not so much a system as a network of people who want to grow and have fun while being good stewards of the environment.” 

Mattingly wrote: “It will be easy to see the lasting impact Christina has had on the city as it maintains a culture that is healthy and smart.”