Mai Le (SF2009)

Placement: Public Utilities Commission, Water Enterprise

What I worked on: For the first 3 months, I helped the Water Conservation group on two projects: (1) Our Water, a water education unit for 4th – 6th graders: I worked with the Environmental Education Manager from the Department of Environment, proofing the materials for readability, getting input from technical experts around the SFPUC and working with the SFPUC communications group to develop a complementary website for teachers and students; and (2) the Municipal Water Audit Program: The Mayor issued an Executive Directive in July 2008 directing all City departments to decrease water consumption by 10% for the following fiscal year. I coordinated meetings for City departments that contacted the SFPUC, getting them in touch with consultants that would perform the audits. I also pulled together past consumption data for the consultants to use.

For the remainder of the year, I worked on the Advanced Meter Infrastructure (AMI) project team. AMI is a wireless meter reading solution that allows a utility to get hourly usage data without visiting a property. The SFPUC is in the process of procuring and implementing this technology. I assisted the Project Manager on all aspects of this project, from selecting a winning proposal to negotiating a contract. One of my main responsibilities included researching organizational structures of other utilities before and after implementation of AMI, and providing this information to department heads at the SFPUC as they could consider restructuring of our utility. I also helped set up a new “as-needed” contract that allows the SFPUC to work with large teams of firms that can be called upon to perform short-term or specialized tasks not suited to the traditional city bid process. I helped draft the Request for Proposals and scoring criteria, and worked with my supervisor to think of ways to streamline and improve the last as-needed contract.

Hometown: Portland, Oregon

School: University of Oregon

Field of Study: Planning, Public Policy, & Management

Selected Honors: Michael Hibbard Award for Excellence (in recognition for my senior thesis), Phi Beta Kappa

Selected Activities and Community Involvement: University Day Chair (2007), Volunteer teacher at KIPP Bay Academy

Prior Work Experience: Data Technician with the Latino Research Team at the Oregon Social Learning Center

Why San Francisco is important to me: San Francisco represents possibility to me. Politically and culturally, this city is adventurous and proud of pushing the envelope, even at the risk of failure or criticism. I try to harness some of San Francisco’s fearlessness, having moved from Oregon for the first time, and it has been a fantastic new beginning so far.

Something unique about me: I love to play Scrabble. I teach a Saturday class on it, entitled “Dabble in Scrabble,” to some middle-schoolers at KIPP. I started playing around that age with my older sister (who I don’t get to play very often anymore, unfortunately). I like it because it’s easy to pick up, and I always learn something new when I play.

What I’m Doing Now: I just returned to San Francisco after a stint as a Research Assistant at the Institute of Medicine in Washington, DC.  However, for well over a year after my Fellowship, I stayed on with the AMI team at the SFPUC, in much the same capacity as when I was a Fellow.

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