New chief appointed at Tahoe City PUD
The staff of the oldest governmental agency in the Tahoe Basin will have a new boss starting March 8.
The Tahoe City Public Utility District’s five-member board of directors appointed Cindy Gustafson to the position of general manager Friday in a 4-0 vote with one abstention.
Gustafson was hired in 1991 as a director of resource development and community relations, she said.
It was a job that included securing grant funding for the projects that the district wanted to do.
Gustafson grew up outside of Washington, D.C., the daughter of a former director of the Federal Bureau of Prisons, and said watching her father hold down a full-time federal government job while still finding time to volunteer for community organizations and in his local church gave her the fundamental drive to choose her path.
Asked if she expected in 1991 to ascend to the general manager position at the utility, she was notably low key.
“No…,” she laughed…, “I never thought that. I felt really fortunate to have a good full-time position in the community.”
Gustafson has held numerous private and public sector positions since moving to the North Tahoe area in 1983. Those include a stint as field deputy for District 5 Placer County Supervisor Mike Fluty in 1989, a position with real estate development firm Perini Land and Development which was building the Resort at Squaw Creek and a job with the Truckee North Tahoe Transportation Management Association.
She also served on local volunteer committees that tackled transportation problems and pushed for bike trails and sidewalks and was a Tahoe Truckee Unified School District trustee from 1999 to 2005.
In addition to her current post as assistant general manager of the district, she serves on California’s Fish and Game Commission, a post she was recommended for by a member of Governor Schwarzenegger’s staff in 2005.
Gustafson is the sixth general manager of the organization founded in 1938 and the only woman to hold the post. Eight-year board president Kelly Atchley said gender is secondary.
“I was the first female board member … but that was not why I wanted them to vote for me, and Cindy’s talents and her abilities far surpass the significance of her gender,” Atchley said.
Her talents, according to Atchley are a “phenomenal cadre of collaborations of agencies throughout the region, and an incredible dedication to the community.”
Unlike recent appointments at other North Tahoe and Truckee utility districts, 25-year resident Gustafson apprenticed under Bob Lourey, the current top executive for the district until March 7.
“We have tried to build the [agency] so that there is always someone [within] the organization that can do the job, and have vision and the ability to rise up into another position, to keep the continuity in the direction we are [headed],” said board member Ron Treabess.
Gustafson received high marks from her boss, a self described “nuts and bolts kind of guy.” Lourey indicated that her ability to collaborate, partner and work with different local and state agencies will help the agency with future challenges.
“She is a very intelligent and driven employee that puts in a lot of energy in her work and I have confidence that she’ll do a great job in her position,” Lourey said. “She respects the traditions but also is a visionary and she’ll take it to the next level.”