Senior Management of the Department and Key Financial Officers

Learn about the Senior Management of the Department and Key Financial Officers at California Department of Water Resources Water System Revenue Bonds, including our Director, Lead Deputy Director, and Deputy Director of Business Operations.
Photo of Karla Nemeth

Karla Nemeth


Karla Nemeth was appointed Director of the California Department of Water Resources by Governor Edmund G. Brown Jr. on January 10, 2018. 

DWR operates and maintains the California State Water Project, manages floodwaters, monitors dam safety, conducts habitat restoration, and provides technical assistance and funding for projects for local water needs. Karla oversees the Department and its mission to manage and protect California’s water resources, working with other agencies in order to benefit the State’s people and to protect, restore and enhance the natural and human environments.

Karla worked at the California Natural Resources Agency as Governor Brown’s Deputy Secretary and Senior Advisor for water policy since 2014. She was the Bay Delta Conservation Plan project manager from 2009 to 2014.

Karla was the environmental and public affairs director for the Alameda County Flood Control and Water Conservation District from 2005 to 2009. She was also the community affairs manager at Jones and Stokes from 2003 to 2005.

Karla has a Master’s degree in public administration from the University of Washington.

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Cindy Messer

Lead Deputy Director

Cindy Messer was appointed as the Department's Managing Deputy Director in February 2017.  Cindy was the Deputy Director of the Planning, Performance, and Technology Division at the Delta Stewardship Council from 2012 until her appointment with DWR. As Deputy Director, she coordinated the preparation and implementation of the Delta Plan. Prior to this position, Cindy served as the assistant executive officer for the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta Conservancy where she provided oversight for the development of the Delta Conservancy’s Interim Strategic Plan.  She also worked for more than ten years in various technical and managerial roles within DWR's Division of Environmental Services.

Cindy is a graduate of the University of California, Davis, where she earned her Bachelor of Arts degree in environmental policy analysis and planning. She also obtained a Master of Science degree in conservation biology from California State University, Sacramento.

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Stephanie Varrelman

Deputy Director of Business Operations

Stephanie Varrelman was appointed Deputy Director of Business Operations in May 2022. In this position, Varrelman is responsible for all Business Operations functions for the Department including fiscal management, human resources, procurement and contracting, facilities management, printing and mail, and 
information technology services. Additionally, Varrelman oversees the internal auditing, equal employment opportunity, and bond accountability functions, as well as the Electric Power Fund and Wildfire Charge Fund programs.

Prior to becoming Deputy Director, Varrelman served as DWR’s Equal Employment Opportunity Officer and worked in a variety of policy and administrative positions within Executive and Business Operations.

Varrelman earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in History from the University of California, Davis, and a Master of Arts degree in History from California State University, Sacramento.

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Ted Craddock

State Water Project Deputy Director

Ted Craddock was sworn in as the State Water Project (SWP) Deputy Director for DWR on May 18, 2020. This position oversees the Division of Engineering, SWP Power and Risk Office, Hydropower License Planning and Compliance Office, SWP Analysis Office, Division of Environmental Services, Bay-Delta Office, and DWR’s largest division—the Division of Operations and Maintenance, which includes five field division offices.

Ted has been with DWR for over twenty-four years. In his most recent assignment as Assistant SWP Deputy Director, he served as Executive Manager of the Oroville emergency recovery effort and provided executive leadership for the SWP’s dam safety and infrastructure initiatives.

Prior to that appointment, Ted served as Manager of the Hydropower License Planning and Compliance Office, where he was responsible for leading the SWP’s hydropower licensing and license compliance programs. He also held the positions of manager of the East Branch Extension program and Advisor to the SWP Deputy Director, as well as various design and construction engineering positions within the Division of Engineering. In these assignments, he was responsible for the planning, design, construction, and initial operation of several SWP facilities.

Ted received a Bachelor of Science degree in Civil and Materials Engineering from the University of California at Davis and is a licensed Professional Engineer.

Photo of Vinay Narjit Singh Behl, CPA

Vinay Narjit Singh Behl, CPA

Comptroller & Chief Financial Officer

Vinay Narjit Singh Behl has served as the Manager of the Division of Fiscal Services since April 2017 and as such is the Comptroller and Chief Financial Officer of the Department.  He manages and directs the activities of the Budget Office, General Accounting Branch, SWP Enterprise Cost Analysis and Billing Branch, Financial Reporting and Compliance Branch, Asset Management Office, and the Administration/Out-of-State Travel/Master Data Office.  Vinay is also responsible for the long-term financial planning of the State Water Project and management of the outstanding debt for the Department. 

Prior to joining the Department, Vinay served as Chief Financial Officer of a subsidiary of Guardian Life Insurance Corporation from 2015 through 2017; Chief Financial Officer of an operating division of the United States Department of Health & Human Services from 2010 through 2015; and Vice President of Finance for various multinational software companies from 1997 through 2010. 

Vinay is a licensed CPA in California and Delaware with various certifications in Accounting, Audit, and Finance. He holds a Bachelors and Masters in Finance and graduated with a Masters In Business Administration from University of California, Davis, specializing in mergers and acquisitions. Vinay is a Chartered Accountant (ACA); Certified Internal Auditor ( CIA); Chartered Global Management Accountant (CGMA); Certified Management Accountant (CMA); Certified Internal Auditor (CIA); Certified Fraud Examiner (CFE); Certified in Finance Qualification (CFq); Certified Government Audit Professional (CGAP); Certified Government Finance Manager (CGFM); Certified in International Financial Reporting Standards(CIFRS); Certified Information Systems Auditor (CISA); and Certified Information Technology Professional(CITP). 

He is also a graduate of the prestigious Strategic Leadership program for Healthcare Executives from Cornell University. In addition, Vinay has held official positions as an advisory board member on the Performance and Accountability committee composed of eight members selected nationwide of the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA) tasked with recommending performance improvements and governance in large organizations.

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Thomas Gibson

General Counsel

Thomas Gibson was appointed Managing Counsel in June 2021, overseeing the Office of General Counsel. He provides legal advice to the Director and Management and oversees approximately 50 attorneys. The Office of General Counsel is responsible for a broad range of issues, including water rights; water transfers; energy law; flood management; integrated water management; dam safety; personnel; and state contracting.

Thomas was previously Undersecretary, Deputy Secretary and Special Counsel for Water, and General Counsel for the California Natural Resources Agency as well as General Counsel for the California Department of Fish and Wildlife.  Prior to joining the state, he was a Partner at the law firm of Best Best & Krieger LLP and an Associate at the law firms of Hyman Phelps & McNamara P.C. and Kronick, Moskovitz, Tiedemann & Girard.

Thomas earned a Juris Doctor degree _cum laude _from the Northwestern School of Law of Lewis & Clark College.