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Learn about the Team at California Department of Water Resources Wildfire Fund Revenue Bonds, including our Director, Chief Deputy Director, and Chief Counsel.
Karla Nemeth was appointed Director of Water Resources by Governor Edmund G. Brown Jr. on January 10, 2018. Prior to her appointment as Director, Ms. Nemeth had worked at the Resources Agency as the Governor’s Deputy Secretary and Senior Advisor for Water Policy since 2014. Ms. Nemeth was Bay Delta Conservation Plan Project Manager from 2009 to 2014. Prior to joining the Resources Agency, Ms. Nemeth was Environmental and Public Affairs Director for the Alameda County Flood Control and Water Conservation District from 2005 to 2009 and Community Affairs Manager at Jones and Stokes from 2003 to 2005. Ms. Nemeth has a Master of Public Administration from the University of Washington.
Cindy Messer was appointed Chief Deputy Director of DWR in February 2017. The Chief Deputy Director is responsible for many of DWR’s water management and administrative policy issues. Ms. Messer served as Assistant Chief Deputy Director from January 2016 until February 2017. Prior to joining DWR, Ms. Messer was the Deputy Director of the Planning, Performance and Technology Division at the Delta Stewardship Council since 2012. Ms. Messer has a Bachelor’s Degree in Environmental Policy Analysis and Planning from the University of California, Davis, and a Master’s Degree in Conservation Biology from California State University, Sacramento.
Spencer Kenner has served as Chief Counsel of DWR since February 2016. He oversees a staff of more than 40 attorneys working on DWR’s varied and complex legal issues. Mr. Kenner joined DWR in 2008 and prior to serving as Chief Counsel he served as the Assistant Chief Counsel responsible for the State Water Project, environmental compliance, and grant and loan programs since 2012. Mr. Kenner has a Juris Doctor Degree from Brigham Young University.
Meghan Thomas has served as in-house counsel to DWR since July 2020. She advises the California Energy Bond Office on varied and complex legal issues related to the activities of the Wildfire Program. Prior to joining DWR and CEBO, Ms. Thomas was in private practice for 10 years advising public agencies on various energy matters including transmission issues, generator interconnection, project development and financing and energy contract negotiation and administration. She previously advised DWR in managing its California Energy Resources Scheduling (CERS) portfolio of contracts and on State Water Project energy and transmission matters. Ms. Thomas has a Juris Doctor Degree from the University of the Pacific, McGeorge School of Law and a Bachelor of Arts Degree in History from the California State University, Sacramento.
Jesse Cason is currently the Chief of the California Energy Bond Office for DWR. Mr. Cason manages the Electric Power Fund program (formerly California Energy Resources Scheduling), that was created during the 2000-2001 energy crisis in California and the DWR Wildfire Fund Financing Program, created in 2019 to address utility wildfire risk. After graduating California State University, Sacramento with a B.S. in Electrical Engineering in 2002, Mr. Cason joined DWR as an Electrical Engineer, where he assisted in the development of energy scheduling and settlement systems. In 2007, he joined the Division of Engineering at DWR, where he led a team in designing electrical features of the State Water Project and earned his Professional Engineer license. In 2015, he joined the California Energy Resources Scheduling Division, assisting with managing the $11.2 billion in PSRBs issued in 2002, collections of over $900 million in related annual charges from the IOUs, overseeing regulatory matters with the CPUC, and the wind-down of $43 billion in power contracts and litigation related to the 2000-2001 energy crisis. In 2016, Mr. Cason graduated from California State University, Bakersfield with a M.S. in Administration.
Vinay Narjit Singh Behl has served as the Chief of the Division of Fiscal Services since April 2017 and as such is the Controller and Chief Financial Officer of DWR. Mr. Behl manages and directs the activities of the Budget Office, General Accounting Branch, Enterprise Accounting Branch, Financial Analysis and Risk Management Office, Administration/Out of State Travel, and Master Data Office, which includes the long term financial planning of the State Water Project and management of the outstanding debt of DWR. Prior to joining DWR Mr. Behl served as Chief Financial Officer of a subsidiary of Guardian Life Insurance Corporation from 2015 through 2017, Chief Financial Officer of an operating division of the United States Department of Health and Human Services from 2010 to 2015 and Vice President of Finance for multinational software companies from 1997 to 2010. Mr. Behl has a Master’s Degree in International Financial Management and a Master’s Degree in Business Administration from the University of California, Davis. Mr. Behl is a licensed Certified Public Accountant in Delaware and California with various certifications in Accounting, Audit and Finance.
Lisa Toms has served as Chief of the Enterprise Accounting Branch, within the Division of Fiscal Services, since March 2014. She has over 29 years of financial experience at the Department of Water Resources and has served in many leadership roles within the Division of Fiscal Services.
She oversees the reporting of the California Electric Bond Office financial records, including the preparation of the quarterly and annual audited financial statements, as well as ensures adequate financing needs are met for the Wildfire Fund Program.
Her institutional knowledge of the Department and many years of Enterprise Fund experience has allowed her to become one of the key financial representatives of the Department.
Lisa received her Bachelor’s Degree in Business Administration, with a concentration in Accounting, from the California State University, Sacramento.