Power Supply

These fierce young leaders demonstrate why energy is today's hot sector

Julia McGinnis
Early in her career, Julia McGinnis discovered the power of water. At 25, she gained a position at the U.S. Department of Interior’s Bureau of Reclamation helping to oversee California’s Central Valley Project, one of the nation’s major water conservation developments. Within five years, McGinnis implemented changes in the CVP’s water accounting and operations system that saved more than $10 million for the bureau that manages the country’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 bureau’s Enterprise Program Management Office, and is one of the Interior Department’s youngest managers. Her role has expanded to managing CVP’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 California’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 “water shortage and management is a major issue on the West Coast.” She seeks to create greater efficiency in ensuring a clean supply of water is available while working within financial and environmental constraints.

McGinnis’ achievements have placed her at the table with some of the energy industry’s most powerful government officials and politicians. The University of Southern California graduate with a bachelor’s in political science and a master’s in public administration serves as the youngest member of the Bureau’s Chief Information Officer Council; she makes recommendations on incorporating new technology into the agency’s business practices, security procedures, and infrastructure. McGinnis, who has studied the career of her role model Colin Powell, says: “During 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.”

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