Bay Area Council Blog: Community Engagement Archive

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Bernard J. Tyson Elected Bay Area Council Chair

The Bay Area Council Executive Committee and Board of Directors on Wednesday (July 26) welcomed new Chair Bernard J. Tyson, Chairman and CEO of Kaiser Permanente, and applauded the immense legacy of his predecessor, TMG Partners Chairman and CEO Michael Covarrubias, for his two years of strong, focused leadership. The passing of the gavel occurred during a meeting generously hosted by member company and global investment firm BlackRock at their stunning San Francisco office.

During his tenure as Chair, Covarrubias led the organization through a period of significant growth and achievement marked by a series of historic wins in Sacramento to advance the Council’s robust policy agenda. Tyson, who takes the helm as the 38th Chair in the organization’s 72-year history, is a tremendous business leader recognized nationally and regionally. As a longtime member of Council’s Executive Committee and most recently as Vice Chair, he has provided important leadership and engagement across all of the Council’s policy areas.

Council Board Member and BlackRock Vice President Anthony Bassili and Managing Director Debbie McCoy warmly welcomed the group and kicked off the Board meeting. The Board also heard from Tipping Point CEO Daniel Lurie on fighting poverty and chronic homelessness in the Bay Area. Since 2005, Tipping Point has raised more than $150 million to educate, employ, house and support those in need in the Bay Area.

In a series of lively reports, the Board of Directors heard from policy committee chairs on the great progress the Council is making on its lead priority issues. Heller Manus President Jeffrey Heller reported on Commute Improvement; Genentech Vice President Carla Boragno on Workforce Housing; and Union Bank Managing Director Julius Robinson on Workforce of the Future. Special thanks again to BlackRock for hosting us.

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Council Scores Another Housing Win with New TOD Law

Legislation the Bay Area Council sponsored that could bring 20,000 units of new housing to the region got Gov. Brown’s signature last Friday (June 21). SB 680 authored by Senator Bob Wieckowski extends the radius within-which BART can pursue transit-oriented development (TOD) projects from ¼ mile from BART stations to ½ mile. The legislation garnered broad support by various groups across the Bay Area, including The Non-Profit Housing Association of Northern California, SPUR, North Bay Leadership Council, SAMCEDA, Transform, among others.

“In the face of a severe housing and affordability crisis, constructing dense housing near main transit hubs will be key to our region’s continued prosperity,” said Jim Wunderman, President and CEO of the Bay Area Council. “SB 680 is a much-needed, common sense solution that uses public lands for public good. It will add an estimated 20,000 new housing units near BART stations, keeping jobs in the Bay Area, reducing commutes and moving our region toward a more sustainable future.”

The Bay Area Council is thrilled to help pass this commonsense solution that will add thousands of units near public transportation. We want to thank Sen. Wieckowski for his leadership on housing. The Council worked with Sen. Wieckowski last year to pass legislation that removes major barriers to creating affordable granny units. To engage in the Council’s housing policy work, please contact Senior Vice President Matt Regan.

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Addressing Gender Bias in Workplace Communications

Gender differences in communications styles can often adversely affect women in the workplace, as men are more likely to talk more and suggest ideas in meetings while women are more likely to be interrupted and given less credit for their ideas. In fact, male executives who speak more are viewed as 10 percent more competent, while women who do the same are viewed as 14 percent less competent by their peers. To address this issue, the Bay Area Council’s Gender Equity Committee hosted an interactive Executive Presence Workshop led by member company Mandel Communications. The workshop focused on communication skills that will help women cut through this bias and position themselves as confident leaders within their companies. The Council’s Best Practices Resources Guide, released last year, highlighted executive presence and other training programs as important strategies for building gender equity within companies.

The Committee also heard about San Francisco Supervisor Mark Farrell’s new legislative proposal to boost female representation in elected office, on corporate boards, in public art, and anywhere else in public view. Only 2 out of 87 public statues in San Francisco represent real women, and this ordinance would enact a new statue of Maya Angelou as a first step in getting to 30 percent female representation by 2020. To engage in the Council’s Gender Equity work, please contact Policy Director Emily Loper.

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Sen. Monning Addresses Water Committee on Clean Water Fund

It’s estimated that as many as one million Californians (10 times the population of Flint, Michigan) lack access to safe, clean drinking water, mostly in rural, economically disadvantaged areas. This troubling statistic undergirded the Bay Area Council Water Committee’s conversation with Senator Bill Monning (D-Carmel) hosted by member company Cargill on Tuesday (July 25). Senator Monning’s bill, SB 623, would create a new clean drinking water fund capitalized through a combination of new fertilizer taxes and fees on water utility bills. The Council took the issue under advisement until the precise bill language becomes available. The Committee also received a briefing from the Department of Water Resources’ Erin Mellon on the race against time to repair the Oroville Dam Spillway, which was destroyed during last years’ record rainfall. To engage with the Council’s Water Committee, please contact Vice President of Public Policy Adrian Covert.

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Advancing U.S.-China Cooperation on Financial Services Innovation

On Tuesday, the Council was joined by Fiona Ma, member of the California Board of Equalization, to honor 14 top banking officials from China’s central government. The Chinese delegation, participating in Visa’s annual training and exchange immersion program in the US financial system, was welcomed by the Bay Area business community and engaged in cross-discussions on California-China initiatives and collaborations.

Economic & Commercial Counselor Yang Yihang, from the Chinese Consulate-General’s Office in San Francisco, offered welcoming remarks, commending the delegates for their participation in the program. Boasting of California’s significant trade and investment ties with China, Fiona Ma highlighted the innovation and financial activities happening on the individual-state level and underscored the mutual benefits in continued cross-exchanges.

The event concluded with open discussion between the delegation and California businesses on topics ranging from China’s foreign direct investment in California to California’s potential involvement in China’s One Belt One Road Initiative. Fostering dialogue and the sharing of opportunities in the unique cross-border relationship is a key focus for the Council operating the California-China Office of Trade and Investment. To learn how the Council can help businesses maneuver amidst China’s changing political and economic environment, please contact Chief of Global Business Development Del Christensen.

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Innovation Bridge: Technology, Startups, and Europe’s Connection to Silicon Valley

On July 25 the Economic Institute released its newest report—Innovation Bridge: Technology, Startups, and Europe’s Connection to Silicon Valley, at the Runway accelerator in San Francisco. The report, which was supported by the European Union and other international and Bay Area partners, looks at the dynamic process that every year brings hundreds of European startup and early stage companies to the Bay Area, many of which stay and grow in the region. It particularly assesses the environment for starting and growing young technology companies in Europe and the region Bay Area.  The conclusions document the unique role that the region plays as the world’s leading innovation and entrepreneurial platform. More than two-hundred participants came to listen to the report’s findings and to engage with a distinguished panel of investors, technologists, innovation directors, and leaders in the startup community, who provided their own perspectives. The report is available on the Economic Institute’s website www.bayareaeconomy.org.

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California Community College’s Career Education Rebranding Looking Good

On Friday (July 21), the California Community Colleges launched a new campaign the Bay Area Council had advocated for that will boost awareness of the system’s extensive career technical education programs among prospective students from diverse backgrounds. This exciting rebranding, which will be available across traditional and social media, seeks to stoke interest in career pathways to living-wage paying, middle-skills jobs—the same jobs that are burgeoning in the Bay Area region in industries such as global trade and logistics, and that companies report having difficulty in hiring for.

As part of its ongoing relationship with the California Community Colleges and California Forward, the Bay Area Council’s Workforce of the Future Committee and it members advocated for the rebranding effort back in October of last year at our first Occupational Marketplace for the Industrial Maintenance Technician/ Mechanic occupation (hosted in partnership with the Bay Area Community College Consortium), especially in light of employers’ needs for a skilled, diverse, and local workforce. To get involved with the Workforce of the Future Committee efforts, please contact Senior Vice President Linda Bidrossian.

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Historic Caltrain Electrification Groundbreaking

Following years of hard work and advocacy, the Bay Area Council today joined Governor Jerry Brown, Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi, Congresswoman Anna Eshoo, Congresswoman Jackie Speier and other key stakeholders at the Millbrae Caltrain Station for the historic groundbreaking ceremony of the Caltrain Electrification Project.

“It’s ironic that the region that invents much of the future has struggled with an overcrowded, diesel-powered, 153-year-old rail line running right through its heart – but today that changes. Silicon Valley will soon have a modern, fast and clean rail system that according to our 2012 study, will deliver 9,600 construction and related jobs and generate more than $2 billion in economic activity across America. Our region is not alone dealing with outdated infrastructure and we hope Congress can unite around a large-scale national improvement program this year, making Caltrain Electrification the start of a legacy of new building.”

The Council has long advocated for an electrified Caltrain and helped assemble the original package of federal, state and regional funding for the project. The final push across the finish line came in May when U.S. Secretary of Transportation Elaine Chao approved a final $647 million grant that had been promised to help pay for the project. Special thanks goes to Senator Dianne Feinstein who worked very hard behind the scenes to achieve this momentous goal.

To engage in the Council’s transportation policy work, please contact Senior Vice President of Policy Michael Cunningham.

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Major Victory for California’s Clean Energy Future

This week marked a major victory for Governor Jerry Brown and California’s clean energy future with the legislature’s bipartisan passage of a landmark package – AB 617 by Assemblymembers Cristina Garcia (D-Bell Gardens), Eduardo Garcia (D-Coachella) and Miguel Santiago (D-Los Angeles) and AB 398 by Assemblymember Eduardo Garcia (D-Coachella) – to combat air pollution in neighborhoods and extend California’s signature cap-and-trade program to meet ambitious climate change goals. The Bay Area Council was part of a broad and diverse coalition in support of the legislation.

The Council has long supported California’s global leadership on a sustainable clean energy future. “As the first business group to support AB32 and cap-and-trade, the Bay Area Council believes the program has worked exceptionally well,” said Bay Area Council President and CEO Jim Wunderman. “California has shown that it’s possible to reduce carbon, improve local air quality, spur new clean energy industries and jobs, and have an economy that’s the envy of the nation. The extension of cap-and-trade until 2030 will keep California on track for its climate goals and its clean energy leadership.”

To engage in the Council’s energy policy work, please contact Senior Vice President of Policy Michael Cunningham.

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Council Says Goodbye to Friend, Colleague and Civic Leader Patricia Dando

Longtime San Jose leader Patricia Dando passed away on July 16 with her husband Bob and her family at her side. Pat, who was former Vice-Mayor of San Jose, served as the President & CEO of the San Jose Silicon Valley Chamber of Commerce from 2005 to 2011. Recognized as a determined and fearless advocate, she is remembered for increasing the Chamber’s political engagement and effectiveness in local races including the 2006 election of Chuck Reed as Mayor and councilmembers Pete Constant, Rose Herrera and Sam Liccardo. In addition, Pat helped lead and win a lengthy legal battle against city campaign limits on independent political groups like the Chamber’s political action committee. Prior to becoming the Chamber’s 9th chief executive, Pat served a stint with Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger as a local government liaison and 10 years on the San Jose City Council beginning in 1995. Notably, during her tenure as Vice-Mayor, Pat spearheaded the successful 1988 fundraising campaign for the development of the HP Pavilion, now the SAP Center and home to the NHL San Jose Sharks. The Council is grateful for Pat’s years of partnership and collaboration, as well as her dedicated service and leadership that made an invaluable impact on San Jose and the greater region. Read more about Pat’s illustrious career and legacy>>