General Counsel Jylana Collins to retire after two decades of EBMUD service

After leading a wide range of multi-year legal negotiations that positioned the East Bay Municipal Utility District to modernize aging infrastructure, face future water rights challenges and adapt to climate change, EBMUD’s top attorney Jylana Collins will retire this month after nearly 30 years of public service.

Collins was appointed as EBMUD’s general counsel in 2006 after serving as the district’s assistant general counsel for a year and as a staff attorney for a decade.

Under her tenure, the district’s legal team played a vital role in EBMUD’s work to deliver high quality, reliable water and wastewater services and to protect the environment.

She led multiple legal efforts including negotiating a landmark consent decree with the Environmental Protection Agency that will improve the ability of regional wastewater systems to handle high flows in wet weather; certifying a long-term water supply management program that is the cornerstone of the East Bay’s future water reliability; and achieving key milestones in extending EBMUD’s water rights permits on the Mokelumne River, the source of more than 90 percent of the water East Bay residents use every day.

"Jylana has managed EBMUD's legal affairs through an era in which the water and wastewater regulatory environment has grown increasingly complex. In addition to being a thoughtful and strategic legal leader, she also helped fashion a world-class legal team for EBMUD. Her leadership of that team led to many successful outcomes on the complex legal issues that EBMUD encounters regarding long-term water supply planning, water rights and the protection of San Francisco Bay," said EBMUD Board President Frank Mellon.

After graduating from University of California Santa Barbara and the University of San Francisco Law School, Collins specialized in labor law at McCray & Lewis. She was then well-positioned to join the staff at the City of Berkeley where she served as the city’s first in-house employment law attorney from 1986 to 1994.

In 1994, EBMUD recruited Collins to join its in-house legal team. She launched her water industry career as the district’s first employment law attorney.

“The best thing about working at a public agency is you know the time you spend at work really matters; you can really connect to that feeling that there is value in your service. You get to practice law without hesitation, at the highest ethical levels,” said Collins.

The Board has appointed Craig Spencer to replace Collins as General Counsel for the district. Spencer has been with EBMUD since 1995, first in the position of Chief Trial Attorney and currently as Assistant General Counsel. Spencer received his law degree from Southern Methodist University in 1977. Prior to his service at the district he was a partner at Hassard Bonnington in San Francisco.

In his 20-year career at EBMUD, Spencer has represented the district in several significant litigation matters and recently assisted in directing the district’s efforts to secure a long-term extension of its water rights permit. Spencer begins his tenure on Wednesday, January 28.

The East Bay Municipal Utility District Board of Directors will say their final thank you and farewell to General Counsel Jylana Collins at the Tuesday, January 27 public board meeting to be held at 1:15 pm at 375 11th Street in downtown Oakland.