Portland Water Bureau head engineer honored with DJC Women of Vision award

News Article
Jodie Inman accepts an award.
Portland Water Bureau Chief Engineer Jodie Inman, P.E., was among honorees at Thursday’s Daily Journal of Commerce (DJC) Women of Vision ceremony. Photo courtesy of Daily Journal of Commerce.

“I’m honored to receive this award,” Inman said. “It’s important to bring an equity-focused lens to the mission-driven work of maintaining our reliable water system. This award recognizes our progress toward creating a diverse, inclusive and well-managed workplace for women and other historically underrepresented groups.”

Inman’s appointment in 2021 as chief engineer—the second woman to hold the role at the Water Bureau—helped blaze a trail. Now, she is one of eight senior women leaders steering the bureau’s management team.

“The Portland Water Bureau is proud to be a leader in elevating women in water utility work,” said Portland Water Bureau Director Gabriel Solmer. “The expertise of leaders like Jodie Inman are helping us invest in a pipeline of future talent that is more reflective of the city we live in.” 

Since her appointment as chief engineer, Inman has worked to integrate inclusion in Water Bureau processes, from updating project selection criteria to centering equity considerations throughout construction.  

“Our projects and capital work provide real opportunity to make a difference,” said Inman. “Support of local women- and minority-owned firms and the promotion of living wage jobs for these historically underrepresented groups is a key part of leading with equity,” she said. 

Inman was drawn to engineering during her upbringing in the Tri-Cities area of eastern Washington, where many of her friends’ parents worked in the field. “I always had a love of math and science, and engineering seemed the perfect fit to blend those interests and to contribute to my community,” said Inman. “As my career progressed, I realized that I wanted to take what I had learned to make a difference, and my time at the Portland Water Bureau has allowed me to do just that.”

Inman’s Water Bureau career began in the engineering planning group, where she supervised professional and technical staff in support of project planning, asset management and hydraulic modeling. From there, she went on to work as an engineering supervisor on special projects. 

“I’ve worked on a wide array of projects that have allowed me to build relationships around the bureau and have given me a well-rounded perspective on how this all plays together,” said Inman.  

One project leveraging collaboration was the Oregon Department of Transportation’s U.S. 26 Outer Powell Boulevard safety improvement project. Jodie invested time reaching out to colleagues in different jurisdictions to build more collaborative relationships.

“Inman’s collaborative approach has led to solutions that better serve underrepresented communities, are fiscally responsible and provide benefit to the community while reducing the impacts of projects,” said engineering design group manager Ken Ackerman.

The engineering group’s work on capital projects, including a new drinking water filtration facility and the recently completed 12.4-million-gallon seismically reinforced underground reservoir at Washington Park, add to the water system’s resilience to potential drinking water contaminants and to natural disasters.  A resilient water system can handle emergency events with minimal service interruptions.