We are happy to announce the promotion of Jill Sunahara to Biological Resources and Land Management Business Group Director in our Northern California region. Previously serving as Regulatory Permitting Program Manager for the region, Jill’s more than 20-year career has focused on environmental compliance, regulatory permitting, and project management for a wide variety of natural resource projects across the West Coast.
Joining ESA in 2016, Jill previously managed major contracts for many public agencies and municipalities while at small and mid-sized consulting firms, and she served as an environmental scientist with the California Regional Water Quality Control Board. With a technical focus on environmental compliance strategy and development for multi-beneficial natural resource and infrastructure management projects, Jill has led successful permitting efforts for several key projects at ESA, including the California Department of Water Resources’ Sacramento Flood Control Program, the Napa River Restoration Project, and the Lower Walnut Creek Restoration Project. She also co-leads the region’s Education, Outreach, and Internship Program, developed to engage diverse students from traditionally underrepresented groups and introduce them to the environmental field.
“Following a rigorous internal and external search, it was clear that Jill was the right person to take on this important leadership role,” said Brian Boxer, ESA Senior Vice President and Northern California Regional Director. “Her deep experience and focus on technical excellence, along with her commitment to collaboration, and diverse, equitable, and inclusive growth within the firm make her a trusted partner to clients and colleagues alike. She has made and nurtured many relationships in this industry over her career, ensuring that smart projects get built and reflect our clients’ goals for project delivery and the protection, sustainability, and long-term enjoyment of our natural resources.”
Leading the region’s largest practice group, Jill will oversee nearly 60 employee-owners as they work to implement projects for clients in the Bay Area, Central Valley, and beyond. Currently, the group is working on major projects across the region involving water, flood, and transportation infrastructure delivery; environmental restoration; and infill solutions to the housing crisis. Jill will also play a critical role in mentoring and furthering the careers of those within the Biological Resources and Land Management Group, as well as cultivating a culture that is diverse, equitable, and inclusive.
Jill is a member of the Association of Environmental Professionals and, even after stepping down from its board a few years ago, she is still active with Friends of Sausal Creek, an organization made up of volunteers working to restore, maintain, and protect the Sausal Creek Watershed. She earned her BA in Earth Science from the University of California, Berkeley.