Meet Emerging Leader: Oyuna Jenkins, Associate Chemist, City of Escondido

CA Water Pros, Emerging Leaders, Members in the News, Wastewater Life, Women in Water

Oyuna Jenkins has been working all her professional life to serve the public. 

That ethic goes back to her native Mongolia, where she earned a university degree in chemical engineering. In the U.S. she says she wanted to find a job that capitalized on her education, and she worked for a small analytical laboratory for nine years before joining the Hale Avenue Resource Recovery Facility lab in Escondido as a laboratory technician.  

She is now associate chemist, and recently received the Laboratory Person of the Year Award. 

I’ve gained a lot of experience over the years,” she says. “I’ve worked with different samples—groundwater, drinking water, wastewater, solid waste, hazardous waste, industrial wastewater.  

“Our people are great to work with. We are serving the public and I’m proud to be doing that.” 

Jenkins says one of the biggest challenges at such a diverse lab as Hale Avenue is communications. “We need to communicate with multiple departments,” she says. Reports need to be clear and data need to be communicated accurately internally and externally. “We talk face-to-face and use email. Oftentimes it’s to follow up and verify and reaffirm the information is correct.” 

The Covid-19 pandemic is also a challenge. “We are short-staffed due to the virus,” she says. People are off, working from home. “It’s a challenge to follow the public health regulations and manage our time and our work to make sure everything gets done.” 

Regarding the new TNI regulations, Jenkins says her lab went through the audit two years ago.  

“Our quality officer guided us through and we made a lot of changes,” she says. “Our whole team worked together and did a lot to get better. It’s still a work in progress.” 

Jenkins says her biggest challenge now is getting to know the entire clean water industry, from source water to discharge. “I like learning new things,” she says. “I want to keep up with the technology so I can do the best job I can.”


We are looking for accomplished water professionals who are making a significant, positive impact on California’s water and they have not yet been recognized for that effort.

Emerging leader describes an individual who:

  • Has demonstrated the potential to assume a leadership role in an organization.
  • Are strong performers who have the potential, ability, and aspiration for continuing their impact on the profession in a leadership role.
  • Show commitment to the organization, exert influence, and demonstrate a willingness to step up and take on more responsibility.
  • Have desire to grow both personally and professionally through networking with like-minded professionals and volunteer work in our profession.
  • Impact will last for a couple of years or more.

Nominators need to be a CWEA member. The nominee does not have to be a CWEA member but should be involved with California water and should live in California. Self nominations are eligible – make your case for the impact you’ve had and you might get picked!

The Emerging Leaders will be selected by a panel of seasoned industry leaders and will be interviewed and profiled in Clean Water.

Nominations due April 1!

Submit application.