President & CEO
Jim Wunderman is President and CEO of the Bay Area Council, a CEO-led public policy organization focused on making the San Francisco Bay Area and Silicon Valley the most globally competitive and economically productive region in the world. Since becoming President and CEO in April 2004, Jim has honed the Bay Area Council’s regionalist approach to advocacy in the key areas that impact the Bay Area’s economy and competitiveness, including: Business Climate, Education, Infrastructure, Healthcare, Transportation, Renewable Energy, Sustainability, Land Use, and Cyber security. The organization has received consistent acclaim for providing business leadership on these and other issues.
Jim has led the Bay Area Council’s efforts to promote the Bay Area’s global leadership, including hosting the Asia-Pacific Economic Conference in 2011, opening two offices in China (Shanghai and Hangzhou) and being selected in 2013 by Governor Jerry Brown to open the State of California’s official trade office in China.
Jim has played an instrumental role in securing federal, state and regional funding for major transportation projects completed or under construction. He has worked to support education improvement at all levels, with a particular focus on the use of data systems to inform decision making, as well as the early educational needs of young children. Under his leadership, the Bay Area Council has continued to play a key role in efforts to achieve consensus-based solutions to California’s water challenges, and is leading the region’s business community in the effort to make sure the economy is a primary driver of regional planning and sustainability efforts.
With Jim at the helm, the Bay Area Council has continued its tradition of working in partnerships to bridge the divides between economic, environmental and social equity interests. The Bay Area Council-led “Bay Area Family of Funds” raised over $200 million to direct investments into business and projects with double and trip bottom lines. The Bay Area Council worked constructively to provide important input to AB32, California’s landmark Global Warming Solutions Act of 2006, and SB375, another innovative state law designed to create sustainable communities through integrated regional land use and transportation planning to reduce vehicle trips and greenhouse gases. Following passage of the law, Jim was appointed by California Air Resources Board Chair Mary Nichols to the committee that developed the implementation standards that were adopted and now govern the regional “Sustainable Community Strategies.”
In 2009, in response to continuing evidence of dysfunction in California state government, Jim proposed holding a Constitutional Convention, which received major attention at the state, national and international levels, and was featured in media outlets including CNN, the Economist, and the New York Times. The idea was endorsed by several newspapers including the San Francisco Chronicle, San Jose Mercury News, and Los Angeles Times, and set the stage for discussions on how best to make California’s government workable, contributing to several state initiatives aimed at improving California’s government effectiveness.
Jim proposed holding a World Expo at Moffett Field in Silicon Valley, joining former Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger in September 2010 in an announcement making California’s interest in the bid process official. Governor Jerry Brown has subsequently reinforced the state’s interest. A report by the Bay Area Council Economic Institute showed that such an event, similar to the one recently held in Shanghai, could bring $5.6 billion in economic activity to the Bay Area. Jim also drove the Bay Area Council’s efforts to support and deliver the America’s Cup to San Francisco Bay in 2013. And Jim served on the Host/Organizing Committee that succeeded in bringing Super Bowl L to the Bay Area in 2016.
During Jim’s tenure, the Bay Area Council’s membership has expanded significantly, as has the engagement of major business leaders throughout the region in the organization’s public policy agenda. The Bay Area Council holds major policy forums and focused discussions on key issues, organizes meetings with international leaders on trade and related matters, and regularly introduces business leaders to government officials, including elected representatives and agency heads at all levels. He has built strong working relationships with the Bay Area’s regional agencies including BART, the Metropolitan Transportation Commission (MTC), the Association of Bay Area Governments (ABAG), the Bay Area Air Quality Management District (BAAQMD) and the Bay Conservation and Development Commission (BCDC). He also has established strong, cooperative ties with other regional business and economy focused groups in California, the United States, and internationally.
Prior to his work at the Bay Area Council, Jim’s career from 1984 to 2004 was split between both the private and public sectors. He served as Chief of Staff to San Francisco Mayor Frank M. Jordan from 1992-95, responsible for overseeing all departmental and budgetary functions, and management of the Mayor’s Office. In an earlier City Hall stint he served as Special Assistant to Mayor Dianne Feinstein, from 1983-1987, with his duties including oversight of the city’s utility, the Public Utilities Commission, and the Department of Public Works. From 1988 through 1991, he served as Vice President and General Manager of two major waste collection, disposal and recycling firms in the Bay Area under its parent, Recology, Inc (formerly Norcal Waste Systems). From 1997-2004 he served as Senior Vice President for External Affairs at Providian Financial Corporation, a publicly traded, Fortune 500 company headquartered in San Francisco with major operations in Oakland, Pleasanton and Fairfield, CA. Reporting to the General Counsel, Jim’s responsibilities included the management of communications (internal and external), federal and state government affairs, community relations, and philanthropy.
During his career, Jim has served on numerous boards and commissions. Key among them, he served as Chairman of the San Francisco Chamber of Commerce, Treasurer of the California Child Care Resource and Referral Network, and as a member of the California Pacific Medical Center Board. He currently serves as Chair of the California Preschool Business Advisory Council and on the boards of the East Bay Zoological Society (Oakland Zoo), Bridge Housing Corporation, Fisher Center for Real Estate & Urban Economics, Sierra Energy, and TMG Partners.
Jim is a Visiting Professor at the UC Davis Graduate School of Management, teaching a course in Executive Leadership. He is a graduate of San Francisco State University, majoring in political science, and received an Associate’s Degree in Business Administration from Kingsborough College, City University of New York. Jim resides in Contra Costa County with his wife, Kristina. He has four children.