Board of Directors

SMWD is governed by a five-member Board of Directors elected by residents within the District’s boundaries. These five elected officials are responsible for District policies and decision making on a large range of issues. The Board's policies are administered and implemented by the General Manager, who is appointed by the Board.

Board members meet monthly at Board and Committee Meetings held at the District’s main office. Click here for more information about SMWD’s meetings and board agendas.

Public elections are held every two years and Directors serve four year terms (for information on elections please visit the Orange County Registrar of Voters). Director terms are staggered to ensure continuity.  Appointments to the Board are made as necessitated by a resignation or other incidental vacating of a Board seat. The Board may make an appointment to fill the vacancy, call a special election, or defer to the County subject to law (for more information, please visit the Orange County Registrar of Voters website.

Justin McCusker (Term 2014-2018) President


Picture of Justin McCusker

Dr. Justin McCusker was elected to the Board in 2014 and he brings a diverse background as an executive in business, government and education.



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A senior executive with C.J. Segerstrom & Sons, Dr. McCusker serves as Director of Community and Government Relations for one of the largest commercial, retail and residential property owners in Southern California. He is on the faculty at California State University-Fullerton as an Adjunct Professor of Public Administration and at Saddleback College as an Associate Professor of Political Science.

Prior, he worked for the County of Orange, serving in executive positions at the Board of Supervisors, County Executive Office and John Wayne Airport. He has had a long career of working in both public service and the private sector, serving in key management roles that help shape public policy.

Actively involved in his community and industry Dr. McCusker serves on a variety of local and regional organizations, including the Orange County Taxpayers Association, Orange County Parks Commission, Santa Ana Chamber of Commerce, South Coast Metro Alliance, City of Costa Mesa Economic Development Commission, NAIOP SoCAL Chapter Board of Directors, California Business Properties Association, California Business Roundtable and Orange County Public Affairs Association, and former Director of the South Orange County Economic Coalition.

Dr. McCusker received his Doctorate degree from the University of Southern California in planning, policy and development, his Master’s degree from California State University-Fullerton in public administration, and his Bachelor of Arts degree from Western Michigan University in political science.

He is a resident of Rancho Santa Margarita where he lives with his wife and four children.

Click here to contact Justin McCusker.

Saundra F. Jacobs (Term 2014-2018) Vice-President


Picture of Saundra Jacobs

Saundra Jacobs has served on the Santa Margarita Water District Board of Directors since 1996. She was re-elected to serve on the Board in 1998, 2002, 2006, 2010 and 2014. While serving on the Board, Ms. Jacobs has been instrumental in implementing policies to ensure that water supplies are safe, reliable in times of drought, and affordable.

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Saundra Jacobs is a Registered Environmental Assessor and President of SFC Consultants, an environmental and land use planning company which she established in 1994. Since its inception, SFC Consultants has grown dramatically and now employs 15 people who specialize in environmental site assessments, environmental impact reports, planning and permitting and government relations.

Actively involved in her industry and the community, Ms. Jacobs is a member of the American Planning Association, Association of Environmental Professionals, California Women’s Leadership Association, Industrial Environmental Coalition of Orange County, Independent Special Districts of Orange County, California Special Districts Association, Urban Water Research Institute at the University of California at Irvine, Urban Water Institute, Orange County Water Association and the Santiago Aqueduct Committee Board of Directors. She is also a former President and Board Member for the Lake Mission Viejo Association.

Click here to contact Saundra F. Jacobs.

Betty H. Olson, Ph. D. (Term 2016-2020) Director and Water Quality and Innovation Committee Chair

Picture of Betty H. Olson, Ph. D. Dr. Betty Olson was appointed to the Santa Margarita Water District Board of Directors in 1994, and elected in 1996. She was re-elected in 2000, 2004, 2008 and 2012 and served as Board President in 2010, 2006, 2001 and 1997. She has been particularly interested in stabilizing rates, bond funding only when necessary, local water supply reliability and expanding the use of recycled water from wastewater and debilitated waters.

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Dr. Olson is a full professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering in the Henri Samueli School of Engineering at the University of California, Irvine. Additionally, Dr. Olson was the founding Director of the Urban Water Research Center at UCI and currently serves as an Associate Director for the Center. Her areas of specialization include environmental microbiology, water and wastewater microbiology.

Before serving on the Santa Margarita Water District Board, Dr. Olson served on the Irvine Ranch Water District Board of Directors for eight years. She has also worked with a number of regulatory agencies on water issues, including: The Metropolitan Water District of Southern California, Los Angeles Department of Water and Power, Orange County Water District, Irvine Ranch Water District, County Sanitation Districts of Orange County, East Bay Municipal Utility District, and the City of San Francisco Water Department.

As an elected official, Dr. Olson has been actively involved in California water policy and legislation over the last two decades. She has utilized this knowledge in teaching water policy classes, including water law and involving policy-makers. Dr. Olson also currently serves as a member representing California on the Western States Water Council.

Dr. Olson is strongly dedicated to maintaining high quality water and ensuring adequate supplies.

Click here to contact Betty H. Olson, Ph. D.

Charley Wilson (Term 2016-2020) Director and Finance and Administration Committee Chair

Picture of Charley Wilson Charley Wilson has served on the Santa Margarita Board of Directors since his appointment in early 2000. He was re-elected in November 2000, 2004, 2008 and 2012.

After serving ten years on the Independent Special Districts of Orange County as the alternate representative to the Local Area Formation Commission (LAFCO), Mr. Wilson became a full voting commissioner in 2011, and he currently serves as Chairman. LAFCO is a state mandated local agency responsible primarily for establishing jurisdictional boundaries and forming new cities or districts.

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Mr. Wilson has been a leading government relations professional in Southern California for more than 20 years. Mr. Wilson joined Southern California Edison in 1990 as a manager of public affairs, where he leads the coordination of local government education programming to meet the needs of cities, counties and special districts throughout Southern California. Prior to joining Edison, Mr. Wilson served as director of community and media affairs for State and U.S. Senator John Seymour.

A graduate of UCLA, Mr. Wilson earned his Bachelor's Degree in Political Science with an emphasis in International Relations and Public Administration. Mr. Wilson and his wife, Pam, live in Coto de Caza with their daughter.

Mr. Wilson is involved in numerous community activities including the Southern California Water Committee, Chair; Association of California Water Agencies Energy Committee; Southern California Building Industry Association, Board of Directors; Orange County Water Association; Orange County Public Facilities Corporation, Vice Chair; Knights of Columbus; and has been involved with The Young Executives of America, Orange County Public Affairs Association, the Home Office Business Opportunities Association, Mission Hospital Foundation, Constitutional Rights Foundation, Saddleback Community College Foundation, Boy Scouts, YMCA; United Way, American Red Cross, KOCE TV, Cystic Fibrosis, Sigma Chi Fraternity and the UCLA Alumni Association.

Click here to contact Charley Wilson.

Charles T. Gibson (Term 2016-2020) Director

Picture of Chuck Gibson

Charles "Chuck" Gibson was elected to the Santa Margarita Water District Board of Directors in 2012. Mr. Gibson has over 35 years of experience combined in working for major governmental agencies, and in business and consulting both as an independent contractor and with a major national consulting firm.

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His work has taken him to clients such as State of California, State of Utah, and State of Nevada, local governments and various public utilities in the West and Midwest. Mr. Gibson has been instrumental in improving organization and management, budget and finance and operations in a wide range of functions from supply chain to information technology systems.

While at a major U.S. consulting firm, Mr. Gibson led organizational assessments using multidisciplinary teams of professionals that identified and resolved barriers to profitability. He has designed and created business process improvements and trained employees to implement improvements. More recently, Chuck has conducted independent analyses of businesses related to planned mergers and acquisitions.

Mr. Gibson’s educational background includes a Master's Degree in Public Administration and a Bachelor's Degree in Political Science from UCLA. He has been a resident of Orange County since 1974 where he and his wife Kathleen have raised four children.

In November 2003, Mr. Gibson moved to Ladera Ranch where he started a community volunteer organization and co-founded the Ladera Ranch Civic Council. Throughout his residency in southeast Orange County Chuck has been active in many community service and charitable groups. He continues to serve as President of his neighborhood homeowners association.

Click here to contact Charles T. Gibson.

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