Leadership Bios

Brian attended Cal Poly San Luis Obispo and received a degree in Civil Engineering in 1989. He started with the Contra Costa County Public Works Department in July 1989 as an Entry Level Engineering staff member in the Construction Division, serving as a Resident Engineer on many projects before rotating through every engineering division within the Department. Brian had the opportunity to serve one year as the first City Engineer for the City of Oakley when it incorporated in 1999. He promoted within the Department to a Deputy Public Works Director in 2007 and Chief Deputy in 2016.

Brian has been active in CEAC and has served as the Chair or Vice Chair of Land Use Policy Committee of CEAC for the last 7 years. He is also active in APWA and is the current Northern California Chapter President. Brian believes that continuing education is important and he recently completed the CSAC Institute Credentialed California County Senior Executive Program.

Brian is an avid Bay Area sports fan, having rooted for the 49ers and Giants since he was a kid. He waited his whole life for the San Francisco Giants to win a World Series and never would have dreamed they would win 3 in 5 years! His hobbies include hunting, fishing, diving, hiking and camping. The last several years he has enjoyed fishing in the Sea of Cortez in Baja and Petersburg Alaska, among more local trips as well. Abalone diving has been a passion of his since he was nine years old and something he still enjoys today with his father.

Brian has two grown sons, Brandon and Brett, who make him very proud every day. He is recently engaged to an incredible fiancée and partner, Nicole. They enjoy traveling together and take weekend getaways whenever possible. Camping and hiking are two of their favorite things.

Brian Balbas, Director

Brian

Stephen graduated from the University of California Davis with a Bachelors degree in Civil Engineering and received his Masters degree in Business Administration from California State University East Bay. He has been with the Contra Costa County Public Works Department since 1990 working with various Divisions including Transportation Engineering, Design and Construction, Environmental, Flood Control (including Watershed and Clean Water), Airports, Print & Mail, Capital Projects, Real Estate, and Information Technology. He also served as the Interim Program Manager for the SR4 Bypass Authority and the East Contra Costa County Fee and Financing Authority.

Currently Steve is Deputy Public Works Director in charge of the Transportation Engineering Division, Design/Construction Division, Airports Division, Capital Projects, and Print & Mail Division of Public Works. Some of his recent achievements include developing and implementing a balanced scorecard performance measurement system for the Department and leading a process improvement effort to improve the project delivery process.

Steve is active in the County Engineers Association of California (CEAC) and the American Public Works Association (APWA). He has served as the Regional Director for the Bay Area Regional Committee of CEAC and as Chair of the Scholarship Committee and is currently the Vice-Chair of the Transportation Committee. He is also currently serving a 3-year term on the APWA Accreditation Council. He has made formal presentations on the Department’s balanced scorecard performance measurement system at both the association’s annual conferences. He has also taught a session of the APWA’s Public Works Institute on the importance of community outreach and managing stress in the workplace. Steve played an active role in providing a local agency perspective in a statewide effort to develop California’s Highway Safety Improvement Plan, the Statewide Local Streets and Roads Needs Assessment, and served as the County’s staff liaison for the Countywide Bicycle Advisory Committee.

On the human interest side, Steve enjoys supporting his son’s youth hockey travel team and is a HUGE San Jose Sharks fan.

Stephen Kowalewski, Chief Deputy

Stephen Kowalewski

Carrie graduated from California State University Hayward with a Bachelor’s degree in Psychology and received a Master’s degree in Public Administration from California State University East Bay. She started with the Public Works Department in 1996 as a student intern while attending college.

Carrie is a Deputy Director responsible for the Department’s administrative and business programs including personnel, finance, purchasing and contracts, media relations, the accreditation program and records management. Carrie is involved in the Northern California Chapter of APWA which is an organization that promotes training and networking among public works professionals. She was Chapter President in 2011, co-chaired the Chapter’s annual 2 day conference in 2012 and 2013 and presented at the 2015 and 2017 conferences. Carrie is involved with APWA National and serves as an accreditation evaluator for public works agencies going through the accreditation process.



Joe received a Bachelors of Science in Civil Engineering from the University of California, Berkeley. He began his professional career with Contra Costa County Public Works Department in 1986 and he has 32 years of experience in working in Transportation Engineering, Design, Construction, and Maintenance divisions. With the merger of the former General Services Department, Joe has delved into working with our Fleet Services, Recycling and Surplus, Custodial Services, and Facilities Services divisions. Joe’s success comes from following his core beliefs and values to:

  • Do the right thing and be accountable.
  • Care about the people we work with and those we serve.
  • Be positive.
  • Try to make things a little better than you found it.
  • Balance work and life commitments.

Joe also gives back to the Department through our mentoring program. He believes there are more mistakes than can be made in a lifetime and mentoring allows him to share lessons he learned so others can avoid some of his mistakes and better plan their path to professional and personal success.

Joe is a Bay Area native born and raised in San Francisco. He and his wife Holly live in Corte Madera in Marin County. In his spare time, Joe enjoys tinkering and fixing/restoring broken items.


Mike began his career with Contra Costa in 1987 as an Entry level Civil Engineer. His years of experience span several of the Department’s divisions: Flood Control, Design, Construction and Transportation Engineering. In 1999, Mike joined the Department’s senior management team as the Assistant Director with responsibilities for the Department’s Construction Division. In 2007 he transferred to lead the Departments Transportation Division and then in 2009 moved again to lead the Flood Control District for the County. In the fall of 2016 Mike was promoted to a Deputy Director, overseeing the departments Flood Control District, Engineering Services, Environmental and Real Estate divisions.

Born and raised in the Bay Area, Mike earned his Civil Engineering Degree from Cal Poly State University, San Luis Obispo. He is actively involved in statewide and regional flood/drainage/clean water issues. He enjoys his work for the County, but values his free time even more. He is married with three children and now considers himself a successful swammer parent since he has survived twenty years of competitive swimming by his children. One daughter swam for USC and the other swam for UCLA. Let’s just say holidays are very interesting at the Carlson household.


Warren attended the University of California, Davis, and received a degree in Civil Engineering in 1998. He began his career with the Contra Costa County Public Works Department in May 1998 and has worked in various Divisions including, Transportation Engineering, Design/Construction, Engineering Services, and Environmental. He was promoted to Division Manager overseeing Engineering Services and Special Districts in 2010 prior to his promotion to Deputy in 2018. Warren’s current focus is project service delivery and managing the County’s infrastructure through the Real Estate, Capital Projects, Facilities, and Design/Construction Divisions.

Warren is a member of the American Public Works Association (APWA) and believes in furthering the careers of all professionals in the public works industry. He has had an opportunity to speak at the APWA National and local Northern California conferences on a number of topics to assist others in career growth. Warren recently completed the CSAC Institute Credential California County Senior Executive program.

Warren and his wife reside in Walnut Creek, and enjoy traveling and experiencing the outdoors. One of Warren’s favorite past times is fishing, including fly fishing for Sierra trout or Delta stripers and hunting for trophy fish in the open waters of Alaska, Sea of Cortez, and Gulf of Mexico.

Carrie Ricci, Deputy

Carrie Ricci

Joe Yee, Deputy

Joe Yee

Mike Carlson, Deputy

Mike Carlson

Warren Lai, Deputy

Warren-Lai