Early in her career, Julia McGinnis discovered the power of water. At 25, she gained a position at the U.S. Department of Interiorâ€™s Bureau of Reclamation helping to oversee Californiaâ€™s Central Valley Project, one of the nationâ€™s major water conservation developments. Within five years, McGinnis implemented changes in the CVPâ€™s water accounting and operations system that saved more than $10 million for the bureau that manages the countryâ€™s water supply through dams, reservoirs, canals, and power plants. The experience demonstrated she could make an impact on people and the environment as well as the bottom line.
Today, McGinnis, 29, serves as chief of the bureauâ€™s Enterprise Program Management Office, and is one of the Interior Departmentâ€™s youngest managers. Her role has expanded to managing CVPâ€™s water accounting system, including operations, storage, delivery, and financial oversight for its IT portfolio of $80 million. The multipurpose CVP is massive. Composed of 20 dams and reservoirs, 11 power plants, and 500 miles of canals, the 72-year-old federal project delivers water and produces electric power to thousands of farms, homes, and businesses in Californiaâ€™s Central Valley Basin as well as major urban communities in the San Francisco Bay Area.
McGinnis deals with issues such as drought, population growth, and climate change, and asserts â€śwater shortage and management is a major issue on the West Coast.â€ť She seeks to create greater efficiency in ensuring a clean supply of water is available while working within financial and environmental constraints.
McGinnisâ€™ achievements have placed her at the table with some of the energy industryâ€™s most powerful government officials and politicians. The University of Southern California graduate with a bachelorâ€™s in political science and a masterâ€™s in public administration serves as the youngest member of the Bureauâ€™s Chief Information Officer Council; she makes recommendations on incorporating new technology into the agencyâ€™s business practices, security procedures, and infrastructure. McGinnis, who has studied the career of her role model Colin Powell, says: â€śDuring the industrial age we were working against nature especially with the reliance on coal. Now we are trying to look at ways to work with nature. This is a great opportunity for creative and innovating individuals to find a niche and leverage that to create something significant for our communities.â€ť
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