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Poonam Boparai

They say that sometimes it’s the smallest decisions that can change your life forever. In my case, it was a combination of small decisions and big circumstances that landed me where I am today. Being born to doctor parents who stressed the importance of an education was a huge circumstance that worked in my favor. Having a father who inspired his two daughters (and a son) in small town India to be strong, independent, hardworking; a joint family that raised us with the utmost love and dedication; a grading glitch that steered me into a major that ultimately led me to both my husband and my dream job; lived and observed experiences of the risks of pollution that permeated everything around us and a strong desire to do something about it. All this culminated in me landing in arguably the best city in the United States, working directly with our communities to attain healthy, equitable outcomes for everyone. I am grateful every day for my privileges and am driven by a passion to open the same doors for others.

My work lies at the intersection of science and policy (with a dose of kindness), and I enjoy bringing my analytical engineering skills to each project. My projects allow me to exercise my intellectual curiosity as there is always more to learn and apply in our day-to-day work. I develop climate action and adaptation plans for cities, counties, special districts, regional agencies, tribal governments, and state entities. I have developed expertise in CEQA along the way and relish the challenge of interpreting a particularly nuanced section of the Guidelines or latest case law. I enjoy developing lasting relationships with clients and colleagues beyond project work, which makes coming to work a fun prospect every day.

On the personal front, I am fervent in my pursuit of work-life balance so I can spend quality time with my son and my daughter. Working at Ascent allows me to be my true self and makes this a lot easier. I am a self-confessed bookworm who appreciates the public library network. My creative expression lies in dancing, and this is one activity that brings the biggest smile to my face. I recently enrolled in dance classes, learning Kathak which is one of the eight Indian classical dance forms. Learning a new art form is humbling and fulfilling and has added to my growth as an individual already.

Southern California
Regional Director
San Diego Office Director
San Diego
Notable Projects

SANDAG Regional Climate Action Planning Framework

Rancho Cucamonga Climate Action Plan

San Diego County Climate Action Plan


MS, Environmental Engineering (focus: Air Quality Engineering and Science), University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign

BE, Chemical Engineering, Birla Institute of Technology and Science, Pilani, India


Ascent DEI Committee (chair)

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