Board of Directors
Western’s five-member board of directors comprise the governing body of Western. Western’s Board of Directors are responsible to the members of the public of their respective division, and to the general public within the Western service area, for the proper conduct of Western affairs.
Directors are elected to four-year terms by the registered voters in five geographic divisions. Divisions are apportioned by population. The five Director's terms are staggered to ensure continuity. While they do not have to be Western retail water customers, Directors must reside within their division.
- Division 1 Mike Gardner
- Division 2 Gracie Torres
- Division 3 Brenda Dennstedt
- Division 4 Laura Roughton
- Division 5 Fauzia Rizvi
Mike Gardner | Secretary-Treasurer
An advocate for water supply diversity with more than two decades of experience in environmental planning and a combined 35 years of utility management, oversight and policy experience, Mike Gardner joined Western’s Board of Directors in December 2020. He represents Division 1 which includes a portion of the City of Riverside located north of Highway 91 and extending to the San Bernardino County line.
Director Gardner serves on the board for Western’s Finance Committee and the joint committee for the City of Riverside. He also represents Western on the Highgrove Municipal Advisory Council and is the alternate representative on the Chino Desalter Authority, Santa Ana Watershed Project Authority, Chino Basin Watermaster and the Western Riverside Council of Governments Executive Committee. In addition, Director Gardner is also an alternate on the Eastern, Elsinore Valley, and Rancho California Water Districts joint committees and the Riverside Advisory Committee.
Mike Gardner served on the Riverside City Council for 12 years, where he was a member of the council committee overseeing Riverside’s Public Utilities. He is currently a Governor’s appointee to the Seismic Safety Commission and has served three Governors over the past ten years.
Director Gardner is currently a Board member for the Mary S. Roberts Pet Adoption Center, Animal Solutions Konnection and Sunshine Haven Wildlife Rehabilitation. He is a graduate of Leadership Riverside, class of 2005.
Mike Gardner is a 49-year resident of the City of Riverside, where he currently lives with his wife. His current term on the Western Board of Directors expires in December 2022.
Gracie Torres | Vice President
A committed water quality and compliance professional, Gracie Torres joined Western’s Board of Directors in December 2018 and now serves as Vice President. She represents Division 2, which includes portions of the City of Riverside located southeast of the 91 Freeway and west of the 215 Freeway, portions of Lake Mathews, March Air Reserve Base, and Woodcrest.
Vice President Torres is a previous recipient of the Western - Lois B. Krieger Endowed Scholarship. She received the award while attending California State University San Bernardino. In 2019, Gracie was awarded an “IMPACT Award” by the Pick Group of Riverside for Civic Impact and recognized as “35 under 35” in 2020 by Young Elected Officials Network.
Gracie Torres is a longtime Riverside resident and a proud product of Riverside Unified School District schools as well as Riverside Community College. Her passion for water quality and environmental science developed when she earned her Bachelor’s degree in Chemistry/Biochemistry and a Master's in Earth and Environmental Sciences from California State University, San Bernardino (CSUSB). She is currently working on a Doctorate in Public Administration at Cal Baptist University (CBU). Professionally, she is a water chemist and water quality compliance planner with Riverside County Flood Control and Water Conservation District and is an adjunct chemistry professor at CSUSB.
Director Torres serves on Western's Executive Ad Hoc Committee. She also sits on the board for Western's Engineering, Operations and Water Resources and Community and Government Affairs Committees. She also serves on the joint committees for the City of Riverside, Eastern and Rancho California Water Districts and the Riverside Advisory Council. In addition, Director Torres is Western’s representative for the March Joint Powers Authority Successor Agency Oversight Committee, the Chino Desalter Authority, the Association of California Water Agencies Joint Powers Insurance Authority and the Woodcrest Municipal Advisory Council. Director Torres is the District’s alternate representative for the Western Riverside County Regional Wastewater Authority and the Highgrove Municipal Advisory Council.
Gracie Torres and her husband live in Riverside with their three children. Her current term on the Western Board of Directors expires in December 2022.
Email Director Torres
Brenda Dennstedt | President
An experienced water education advocate, Brenda Dennstedt joined Western’s Board of Directors in January 2007 and was subsequently re-elected in 2010, 2014 and 2018. Serving her second term as Board President, Director Dennstedt represents Division 3, which includes Lake Mathews, properties located south of Cajalco Road and west of the 215 Freeway, Lake Elsinore, Temecula, Canyon Lake, Wildomar, Rainbow, and Murrieta.
Director Dennstedt is committed to maintaining a standard of excellence by consistently demonstrating active engagement in all of her many roles throughout the region. She was elected to the Murrieta County Water District board in 2003, which merged with Western in late 2005.
As Western’s representative on the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California Board (MWD), Director Dennstedt is responsible for acting on behalf of the interests of the nearly one million customers who receive their water both directly and indirectly from Western.
She also serves on Western’s Murrieta Advisory and Executive Ad Hoc committees, and sits on the board for Western’s Community and Government Affairs and Finance committees. In addition, Director Dennstedt currently represents Western as an alternate on the Santa Ana Watershed Project Authority Board and is a member of SAWPA’s One Water, One Watershed committee. Director Dennstedt is an elected member of the Association of California Water Agencies Region 9 Board and she also represents Western Riverside Council of Governments Executive Committee.
Director Dennstedt has dedicated her service to the region through her consistent support of water education and regional representation. She serves on the joint committees of Elsinore Valley, Rancho California, and Eastern Municipal Water Districts. Director Dennstedt is the representative for the Lake Elsinore and San Jacinto Watersheds Authority. She also serves as Western’s alternate representative for the Temescal Valley Municipal Advisory Council and the Association of the California Water Agencies Joint Powers Insurance Authority.
Director Dennstedt’s current term on the Western Board of Directors expires in December 2022.
With an extensive background in successful public service, working knowledge of the water industry, and municipal oversight and policy experience, Laura Roughton joined Western’s Board of Directors in August 2021. She represents Division 4 which includes the communities of Eastvale, Jurupa Valley and Norco.
Director Roughton most recently served as the Jurupa Valley City Council representative to the Western Riverside Council of Governments and to the One Water One Watershed (OWOW) Steering Committee under the Santa Ana River Watershed Project Authority. During her time on the OWOW Steering Committee, she displayed her leadership through regional collaboration in the Santa Ana Watershed to protect and carefully utilize the watershed shared by residents and visitors to our region.
Laura Roughton is a long-time resident of the represented area, living within the Division 4 boundaries for more than 30 years.
The Division 4 Director's seat will be placed on the ballot for the November 2022 general election. Director Roughton will hold the office until the general election results are certified
A business owner and a community advocate with an expertise working as a professional in the field of water management and consulting, Fauzia Rizvi joined Western’s Board of Directors in December 2020. She represents Division 5, which includes the City of Corona, Home Gardens, El Cerrito, and a portion of Temescal Canyon.
Director Rizvi serves on Western’s Murrieta Advisory and Corona/Norco Ad Hoc Committee. She is also Western’s representative on the Temescal Valley Municipal Advisory Council and the Western Riverside County Regional Wastewater Authority and serves as an alternate representative on the Santa Rosa Regional Resources Authority. In addition, Director Rizvi serves on the joint committees of Elsinore Valley and Rancho California Water Districts.
Director Rizvi is heavily involved in the community, serving many years as a parent-teacher association member, working for the Interfaith Coalition, and volunteering for organizations such as the Corona Norco Interfaith Association, Beloved Corona and Cops & Clergy, to name a few. She was the first woman elected to be on the executive board for the Islamic Society for Corona Norco.
Director Rizvi is currently serving as a Board member and Interfaith Chair for the Islamic Shura Council of Southern California, and as a member on the Riverside Community College District’s Citizens Bond Oversight Committee. She is also the President of For the People Taskforce, which is a non-profit organization helping people with food insecurity and utility debt throughout-out the Inland Empire.
Director Rizvi is a long-time resident of the City of Corona, where she lives with her husband and three children.
Her current term on the Western Board of Directors expires in December 2024.