Environmental Science Associates (ESA), a leading environmental consulting and planning firm, has named Ruta K. Thomas as Senior Vice President and Regional Director of its Southern California region. She will direct ESA’s operations and lead the strategic growth and development of the firm, with a focus on the evolving client and community needs of this vital region.

Thomas brings 25 years of experience directing and managing projects involving new land development, urban redevelopment, institutional plans, and large-scale urban and regional plans and policies. She is known for strategically addressing complex technical and political issues for her clients, often serving as a skilled facilitator of public engagement programs. She is dedicated to advancing leadership and developing creative, sustainable solutions for environmental planning projects. Thomas worked for ESA early in her career and has since held management roles at other West Coast firms; most recently, she served as a firm-wide Principal for Dudek, where she helped them establish a Los Angeles presence and client base, and also served as the practice leader for their Planning and Urban Design Group.

“We couldn’t be more excited to welcome Ruta back to ESA to lead and expand our Southern California region,” said Leslie Moulton-Post, ESA’s President and CEO. “Ruta’s powerful combination of hands-on client service, complex planning work, and deep operations management experience is sure to broaden ESA’s reach into new markets while benefiting our current client base.”

Thomas will be responsible for ESA’s regional operational and financial management, executing strategic growth, driving regional business development, recruiting, and team development. Her clients will continue to benefit from her expertise in overseeing the environmental review process, thus ensuring projects are planned and implemented with the highest standards of technical excellence and legal defensibility.

“I am thrilled to be back at ESA—a firm with a stellar reputation in this industry, not only for the caliber of its environmental consulting work, but also for continually investing in its people and having a strong commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusivity,” said Thomas. “It’s an honor to be surrounded by some of the top minds in the industry, many of whom have been long-time colleagues and friends, to help our clients tackle some of their most pressing environmental challenges, from addressing the housing crisis to securing safe, reliable potable water.”

Thomas has managed a number of large-scale contracts with important clients throughout the region, including the Los Angeles County Department of Public Works, the Los Angeles Department of City Planning, the City of Long Beach, the City of Santa Monica, the City of Inglewood, the City of El Segundo, and the Los Angeles Unified School District.

She earned her master’s degree in environmental studies from Brown University and bachelor’s degree in biology and economics from Lehigh University.