State Water Board Names Former Federal Official Eileen Sobeck as New Executive Director

  • by Pamela Martineau
  • Aug 8, 2017
  • Water News

The State Water Resources Control Board has named Eileen Sobeck, a former head of National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Fisheries, as its next executive director.  She replaces Tom Howard, who retired in May, and will start the job after the Labor Day weekend.

Sobeck was selected after a lengthy, competitive recruitment. State Water Board officials stated in a press release that she was selected “due to her substantial managerial and environmental experience.”

“She has nearly 40 years of government service, and more than a decade of executive and management experience leading professional staff in complex organizations,” the State Water Board release stated.

While new to state government, Sobeck has spent her career in federal agencies that touch on many of the same science-based, public resource challenges the State Water Board faces, the release stated.

Most recently Sobeck headed the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Fisheries as the Assistant Administrator at the Department of Commerce (2014-2017).  Prior to her work at NOAA she was the Department of Interior’s Acting Assistant Secretary for Insular Affairs (2012-2014), and Deputy Assistant Secretary for Fish, Wildlife and Parks (2009-2012).  Sobeck is a lawyer by training and spent 25 years at the U.S. Department of Justice, ultimately serving as Deputy Assistant Attorney General for Environment and Natural Resources (1999-2009).

Sobeck spent most of her professional career in Washington, D.C., but has many ties to California.  She grew up in Davis, is a graduate of Stanford and Stanford Law School.

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