Video: Water Leaders Discuss Their Career Path to Power

Announcements, Career Stories, Women in Water

The Path to Power series is organized by the Association of Women in Water, Energy, and the Environment.

We are excited to introduce a remarkable panel of women in the water industry who will engage in a thought-provoking dialogue about their accomplished career paths.

California water leaders on the panel:
Jennifer Persike, moderatorr, Jennifer Persike & Company
Helen Hu, Regional San
Anecita Agustinez, CA Department of Water Resources
Taryn Ravazzini, Los Vaqueros Reservoir JPA

The panel was recorded live in Sacramento during California Water Professionals Appreciation Week 2023.The panel delved into their strategies for overcoming obstacles, harmonizing their professional and personal lives, dispensing invaluable insights, and answer audience questions.

The Path to Power series is created and hosted by Association of Women in Water, Energy and the Environment (AWWEE). Supported by: ACWA, BAYWORK, CASA, CA-NV AWWA, and CWEA.


Jennifer Persike is an innovative strategist and a visionary leader with more than 30 years experience leading and working with California water and energy organizations, statewide associations, non-profits and corporations in addition to local, state and federal entities. In 2017, Jennifer established her own firm, Jennifer Persike & Company. She and her team help organizations and individuals to lead better and do better. JP & Co. specializes in organizational optimization, strategic planning, leadership development and training, and public affairs / communications. The firm also is committed to helping clients organically integrate diversity, inclusion, and equity into their company values. Ms. Persike is the past Executive Director of Leadership California (LC), a statewide non-profit organization dedicated to increasing the representation and influence of diverse women leaders in all sectors across California. As former Deputy Executive Director for the Association of California Water Agencies (ACWA), Ms. Persike built a reputation for understanding the issues, people, and challenges in the water arena. She has drove numerous high-profile, successful external and internal initiatives, including the creation and management of the original Save Our Water public outreach program, the award-winning California’s Water Series on Public Television with Huell Howser and multiple other statewide education programs and campaigns. Ms. Persike is committed to giving back to the community, serving on numerous boards and committees at the local, state, and national levels. These include, American Red Cross-Gold Country, ACWA Foundation, HerGen, Water Education Foundation, Association for Women in Water, Energy and the Environment, and Alzheimer’s Association. Ms. Persike holds a bachelor’s degree in Journalism and Political Science from Chico State University. She holds a Certification in Facilitation, Mediation and Arbitration from University of California, Davis, and a Marshall Goldsmith Stakeholder Centered Coaching Certification and a Diversity & Inclusion Certificate from Cornell University. She is a best selling author of The Joy of Work, released in July 2023.

Department of Water Resources (DWR) appointed Anecita Agustinez as Tribal Policy Advisor in August 2013. She is an enrolled citizen of the Diné (Navajo) Nation, born to the Tó dích’íinii (Bitter Water Clan People) and born for the Ilocano Clan. She is a Strategic Policy Advisor to the Director and ensures DWR’s compliance with AB52 Consultation and with initiatives implemented by the Governor and California Natural Resources Agency. She covers Tribal engagement regarding climate change, Human Right to Water, flood and drought impacts and energy-related issues, regional water planning, ecosystem restoration, and climate resilience. She provides support to DWR’s special initiatives and environmental justice policies and negotiates and monitors selected legislation related to Tribal governments, water, flood and energy. Before joining DWR, she served as the Native American Liaison and Manager of the Office of Legislative and External Affairs, at the Department of Health Care Services. She was the Assistant Director of the Office of Native American Affairs at the Department of Justice in the Office of the Attorney General. The Office of Tribal Policy Advisor coordinates communication and outreach with other state agencies and facilitates government-to-government consultation between DWR and California’ s Native American Tribal Governments. Her office provides policy recommendations to the California Water Commission and Central Valley Flood Protection Board. She is an advocate for self-governance, respect for Tribal sovereignty and incorporating Tribal Science as a best management practice in state management of cultural resources and water infrastructure planning.

Helen Hu is one of the Operations and Maintenance Managers at Regional San. She oversees the Control and Electrical Shops, the Plant Computer Control System Support Team, and the Business Efficiencies Office. Helen also provides support to the District’s Administrative Program Management Office on the development of the Harvest Water Program. Additionally, Helen currently serves as the Vice Chair on CWEA’s Northern Regional Committee and provides support to the 2024 Annual Conference Planning Committee. Outside of CWEA, she also facilitates two courses in the Sacramento County’s Leadership Development Academy: Creating a Culture of Accountability and Developing Political Acumen. Helen started her wastewater career in 2002, working at Regional San’s EchoWater Resource Recovery Facility as an Assistant Civil Engineer. Helen was inspired to pursue a career in wastewater during a high school field trip to a wastewater treatment plant. She earned her Bachelor of Science degree in Environmental Engineering with a focus on wastewater and recycled water systems at Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo, and has been a registered Civil Engineer with the State of California since 2006. Helen has over 20 years of experience in the wastewater industry. Her current area of responsibilities include Budget Administration and Audit where she oversees the preparation of Regional San Operation’s annual operating budget; Workforce Sustainability where she develops tools to forecast retirements to proactively plan for resources needed to operate and maintain the Plant and, to implement a career development program; Labor Relations where she collaborates with County Personnel groups to conduct job class studies, exam development, and joint labor agreement discussions; Organizational Development where she provides support to analyze and make recommendations to key performance measures, collaborates with other work groups to standardize O&M Section’s training program and develops new training curricula for mechanics, electricians, and control systems technicians. Helen was previously involved with regulatory and compliance programs including process safety, air quality and climate change, NPDES, recycled water, and solid waste management. Outside of work, Helen is a wife and mother to two teenagers, and in her spare time, she enjoys cooking, crocheting, and watching crime shows.

Taryn Ravazzini is the president and founder of T. Ravazzini Consulting, LLC. Her professional background includes extensive government experience in executive management roles leading major statewide water policy initiatives for the Brown and Newsom administrations. Ms. Ravazzini started her own consulting firm in 2022 and is currently serving as the first Executive Director of the Los Vaqueros Reservoir Joint Powers Authority. In this role, Ms. Ravazzini oversees the governance and administration of the Phase 2 Expansion of Los Vaqueros Reservoir, a major water infrastructure project intended to improve regional water supply reliability for 11 million Californians and provide ecosystem benefits for thousands of migratory birds along the Pacific Flyway. Prior to starting her own consulting firm, Ms. Ravazzini was a Deputy Director at the California Department of Water Resources, where she led the statewide implementation of California’s landmark Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA). During her tenure at DWR, Ms. Ravazzini also served as the Acting Executive Officer of the California Water Commission, managing the final development and approval of the Proposition 1 Water Storage Investment Program (WISP) regulations. Before DWR, Governor Jerry Brown appointed Ms. Ravazzini to the executive team of the Delta Stewardship Council overseeing the collaborative implementation of shared national, state, and local goals for the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta. Earlier career positions included the Association of California Water Agencies, the United States Senate, and the Judicial Council of California. A member of the California State Bar, Ms. Ravazzini earned her Bachelor of Arts from University of California, San Diego, and her Juris Doctor from Golden Gate University School of Law.