Chief of External Affairs

Chief of External Affairs

San José

Posted: 08.19.2020

Valley Water invites your interest in the position of Chief of External Affairs.

The mission of Valley Water is to provide Silicon Valley safe, clean water for a healthy life, environment, and economy.


The Organization:

With headquarters in San José, Valley Water provides water supply, enhances streams and watersheds through creek restoration and habitat protection, provides flood protection for homes, schools, businesses and roadways, and partners with other agencies to provide trails and open space for the community.

Valley Water effectively manages 10 dams and surface water reservoirs, three water treatment plants, an advanced recycled water purification center, a state of-the-art water quality laboratory, nearly 400 acres of groundwater recharge ponds, and more than 275 miles of streams. Valley Water provides wholesale water and groundwater management services to local municipalities and private water retailers who deliver drinking water directly to nearly 2 million people in Santa Clara County that stretches 1,300 square miles and encompasses 15 cities and unincorporated areas.

As a public agency with an operating and capital budget of $610 million, and over 850 employees, Valley Water is committed to being transparent and accountable with regard to its operations and business practices.

Valley Water is governed by a Board of Directors comprised of seven members each elected from equally divided districts drawn through a formal process. The directors serve overlapping four-year terms.


The Community:

Silicon Valley, the technology center of the world, has led to the county hosting the largest concentration of technology expertise in the world.

Recognized throughout the world as a center of technology and innovation, the City of San José is considered the Capital of Silicon Valley and is one of the most diverse large cities in the United States. Located roughly 50 miles south of San Francisco and 390 miles north of Los Angeles, the city enjoys an average of 300 days of sunshine a year. Those living and working in Santa Clara County have access to the Bay Area’s many attractions, cultural and performing arts, and recreational opportunities. A year-round calendar of festivals and celebrations supports the community spirit.

Thirty-one public school districts and over 240 private schools provide residents with a range of educational choices; innovative programs in local school districts include a nationally acclaimed performing arts magnet, as well as concentrations in aerospace, international studies, math and science, radio and television, and more. Universities in and near Santa Clara County include San Jose State University, California State University East Bay, Santa Clara University, Stanford University, and three University of California campuses.

Once a largely agrarian valley, Santa Clara County’s transformation into Silicon Valley, the technology center of the world, has led to the county hosting the largest concentration of technology expertise in the world. Thousands of technology companies in the area employ more than a quarter million people and include the headquarters of major companies such as Google, Facebook, Apple, Netflix and Tesla. San José does not have an ethnic majority; residents include speakers of more than 56 different languages. The county is proud of its quality of life and of the rich cultural diversity evident in its population, its workforce, and its many neighborhoods.


The Position:

The Chief of External Affairs (CEA) is an executive leadership position that reports directly to the Chief Executive Officer (CEO). The CEA will serve as a key member of the executive leadership team and represent the CEO and Valley Water in interactions with employees, the public, and other agencies and organizations. The CEA will oversee the strategic planning and integration of external policies and legislation as it relates to the business interests of Valley Water. They will be responsible for managing Valley Water’s relationships with the community, government officials, the media, and other key stakeholders.

The CEA will lead the development of Valley Water’s external communications strategy to the media, community, and general public, including how Valley Water engages with the community in the areas of education, volunteerism, and through its grant programs. Additionally, the CEA will lead all government relations efforts on local, regional, state, and federal levels, and be responsible for keeping the CEO and other Valley Water staff informed of public policies that directly affect operations. The CEA will also oversee the Racial Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Office (REDI Office), providing strategic oversight and direction to incorporate REDI into all areas of business operations and decision making as well as expand networks with external groups focusing on racial equity, diversity and inclusion.

The CEA will be responsible for the management and oversight Valley Water’s Civic Engagement, Government Relations, Communications, and Racial Equity, Diversity and Inclusion units, consisting of approximately 40 employees.


Essential Responsibilities And Duties Include:

Provides leadership and direction to the External Affairs division to continually support Valley Water in accordance with CEO and Board of Directors goals, objectives, policies, and strategic direction

  • Develop, manage, and oversee all government relations strategies – short and long-term, on the local, regional, state, and federal levels
  • Understand the political landscape and build strong partnerships with legislative contacts and elected officials to help leverage Valley Water’s position when advocating for its business interests
  • Keep the Valley Water Board of Directors, CEO and staff informed of changing public policies affecting the organization’s operations
  • Develop strong relationships with external stakeholder groups (elected officials, community-based organizations, the media, local community, etc.) to support Valley Water’s ongoing projects, long-range planning, and other community efforts
  • Develop, manage, and oversee all internal and external communications strategies with all employees, community, media, and elected officials, including verbal, written, print or video media
  • Provide leadership to a newly created Racial Equity, Diversity and Inclusion (REDI) Office to increase understanding and awareness of REDI within Valley Water, develop relationships with diverse external stakeholders and partners, and work to incorporate REDI into all aspects of operations and decision making
  • Maintain direct communication with local government officials, community groups, and other stakeholders to keep them informed and aware of Valley Water’s projects, community efforts, long-term planning, and other objectives
  • Direct and manage all community engagement efforts through educational programs, grant programs, volunteerism and public events
  • Perform other assigned responsibilities as delegated by the CEO and/or assigned through Valley Water policies


The Ideal Candidate:

The ideal candidate has a track record of demonstrated leadership, proven accomplishments, and superior performance in a public agency, public utility, municipal organization or a closely related organization with an emphasis on public affairs; government relations including local, state and federal government; communications, including public information and media, community events and graphic services; civic engagement activities such as grants, volunteerism, and education outreach; and an understanding of racial equity, diversity and inclusion.

A Bachelor’s degree from an accredited four-year college with major course work in communications, journalism, business or public administration, political science, public affairs, public policy, or related field is required. A Master’s degree is highly desirable. Minimum experience requirements include eight years of recent progressively responsible experience as a public affairs executive, policy or communications director, or similar related work in the public sector, water industry or a public utility, including three (3) years high level management of professional and technical staff. Must possess a valid California driver’s license and maintain a satisfactory driving record.


The Ideal Candidate Must Be Knowledgeable Of:

General administrative principles, practices, and methods of public administration, including goal setting, objectives and procedures development, and implementation

  • The principles, practices and techniques of public affairs, government, community and/or media relations
  • The principles and practices of effective executive-level leadership and staff supervision, including selection, training and development, dynamics of line-staff relationships, techniques of effective interpersonal communications and relations, effective problem-solving and decision-making techniques, planning and delegating work, performance evaluations, positive recognition methods, and progressive discipline
  • Local, state and/or federal legislative processes
  • Applicable laws, regulations, legal mandates, guidelines, and standards affecting public agencies
  • Social, political, and environmental issues influencing the organizational climate


The Ideal Candidate Must Be Able To:

Provide effective leadership in a diversely staffed organization, consistent with executive direction and agency values

  • Develop, articulate, and implement their mission and goals
  • Plan, organize, review, and evaluate complex interrelated services
  • Evaluate the effect of the internal and external forces on the organization and propose appropriate responses
  • Formulate process improvement strategies
  • Understand and accurately interpret policies, rules, regulations, procedures, and guidelines
  • Manage ambiguity and make critical decisions in crisis situation
  • Facilitate change
  • Value collegiality, diversity, excellence and service
  • Select, motivate, supervise, and evaluate managers and staff
  • Establish and maintain cooperative and effective working relationships with a variety of representatives of public and private organizations, members of boards and commissions, employee organizations, local, state, and federal legislative representatives, Valley Water staff and the general public
  • Maintain and exhibit discretion and integrity when handling sensitive information
  • Excellent written and oral communications skills, including public speaking
  • Manage complex projects involving multidisciplinary teams that require coordination and collaboration with external agencies and high level executive managers

Finally, the selected candidate will be a confident leader and manager with exceptional strategic and critical thinking skills, specifically an ability to think big and position the organization to achieve tangible outcomes and implement solutions to complex problems. Candidate must be a good listener and trusted advisor to peers, the leadership team and the Board of Directors with the ability to create partnerships and leverage those partnerships to ensure Valley Water achieves its goals. Other attributes include a reputation of trust within the community, and a highly collaborative and supportive leader with an established ability to align key stakeholders to decisions.


The Compensation:

The salary for the Chief of External Affairs is $253,593.60 – $313,123.20 annually; placement within this range will be dependent upon qualifications. Valley Water also provides an excellent comprehensive benefits package including a defined benefit retirement plan; medical, dental, and vision insurance; paid time off; a flexible spending account; and an employee assistance program. This position is designated as unclassified/at-will and it is the policy of Valley Water that Unclassified employees are employed at the will of the CEO/ Appointing Authority.


To Apply:

If you are interested in this outstanding opportunity, please visit and complete an application, attaching your cover letter and resume by August 28th at 5pm.

Following the closing date, applications will be screened according to the qualifications outlined above. The most qualified candidates will be evaluated for relevant experience and a select group of candidates will be asked to provide references once it is anticipated that they are finalists. References will be contacted only following candidate approval. A series of interviews will be held to determine the most qualified candidate. Candidates will be advised of the status of the recruitment following selection of the Chief of External Affairs.

If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact Courtney Letts at