“At work, I give it my all, and then some, because I believe that our community deserves fresh, clean drinking water and reliable wastewater services.”
As the Manager of Public Affairs and Conservation for the South Tahoe Public Utility District, Shelly Thomsen oversees the internal and external communications and the water conservation program that has helped reduce water production by over 20% over the last ten years.
Congratulations to this week’s 40 under 40 honoree, Shelly Thomsen!
Can you tell us a little about your responsibilities and accomplishments in your current position?
As the Manager of Public Affairs and Conservation for South Tahoe Public Utility District, I oversee internal/external communications and the water conservation program. I am proud of the multi-faceted water conservation program that has helped reduce water production by over 20% over the last ten years. I love being a liaison between the District and the community and my days are filled with TV/radio interviews, drafting press releases, presenting at community events, teaching environmental education, and hosting public workshops.
What has been your favorite professional moment in the last year?
While the COVID-19 pandemic has challenged our world and our community, working with a strong, smart, dynamic, and flexible leadership team to develop and implement a risk response plan for the District has been incredibly rewarding. At the end of the day, everyone in our community relies on safe, clean drinking water and reliable wastewater services. Keeping our staff healthy to provide these services is critical. I believe that the District’s response, given the every changing information and recommendations available, helped keep our staff, their families, and our community safe during uncertain times.
Do you have a professional/life mantra that you live by?
I live by Edward Abbey’s final paragraph of advice: “Be as I am- a reluctant enthusiast… a part-time crusader, a half-hearted fanatic. Save the other half of yourself and your lives for pleasure and adventure. It is not enough to fight for the land; it is even more important to enjoy it.”
Edward Abbey captured the work hard, play hard spirit that abounds in Tahoe. While at work, I give it my all, and then some, because I believe that our community deserves fresh, clean drinking water and reliable wastewater services. When I leave the office, I try to flip the switch and dive headfirst into the silliness of my 3 and 5 year old daughters, laugh with my husband, banter with my friends, and enjoy the endless outdoor recreation that Tahoe offers.
Who is your role model?
My Mom, Laurelee Barnes. She embraces life. Lalee, as my kids call her, is the first to dance, jump behind the boat to waterski, plan a fun trip, or help a friend in need. She is selfless, hardworking, empathetic, never gossips, and finds time to exercise every day. She has filled not just me, but my brother, husband, kids and friends with so much love and support over the years, that it was impossible not to succeed.
Why choose Tahoe to make your home and career?
I have been fortunate to live around the world, and Tahoe is where my heart sings. The natural beauty, close knit community, and ability to achieve a healthy work/life balance makes it my favorite place on the planet.
Are you active in any volunteer roles or community groups?
I am honored to serve as Vice President on Tahoe Resource Conservation District’s Board of Directors, Co-Chair for South Lake Tahoe Earth Day Festival, planning committee member for Fire Fest, and volunteer as a University of California Master Gardener. The role I am most proud of is being Co-Founder and active member of the South Tahoe Environmental Education Coalition, an incredible group of agency and non-profit partners that bring hands-on environmental education programs to our local youth.
What is your favorite thing to do outside of work?
Mountain biking, hiking, skiing, and boating with my family.
Where are your favorite South Shore stomping grounds?
Week night dinners at Pope Beach, live music at Tahoe Paradise Park, or hanging by the fire pits at Tahoe AleWorx.