Celebrating 76 Years of Business, Philanthropic Leadership
In our first major in-person event since the COVID pandemic forced us all into a virtual world, the Bay Area Council and CEO Jim Wunderman welcomed more than 350 business and civic leaders Thursday for our 76th Annual Dinner and Bay Area Business Hall of Fame induction ceremony presented by Kaiser Permanente. It was a spectacular evening as we quickly shook off any rust that has accumulated from many months of not seeing each other in person. No pajama bottoms were spotted. In a welcome message <link to recording>, Council Executive Committee member and Kaiser Permanente Executive Vice President, Group President and Chief Operating Officer Janet Liang spoke about the shared commitment our two organizations have for keeping the Bay Area a thriving and healthy region.
Under the leadership of Business Hall of Fame Committee Chair Alex Merhan, the Council was honored to induct three incredible and ground-breaking leaders into the 26th Hall of Fame class, including Nobel Prize-winning UC Berkeley biochemist Dr. Jennifer Doudna, First Republic Bank Founder, Chair and Co-CEO Jim Herbert and tech industry trailblazer John Thompson.
The evening featured our traditional gavel-passing ceremony, with outgoing Chair Mary Huss turning over the reins to incoming Chair Kausik Rajgopal. Both Wunderman and Rajgopal praised Mary, Publisher of the San Francisco Business Times and Silicon Valley Business Journal, for her steady and inspired leadership over the past two years as the Council navigated the challenges of the pandemic shutdown. We can’t thank Mary enough for everything she has done to lead our organization forward. And we are extremely excited to welcome Chair Rajgopal, Executive Vice President and Chief Human Resources Officer for PayPal, as he looks to expand and deepen the Council’s leadership and influence as the economy reopens. Rajgopal highlighted the importance of viewing the Council’s public policy work through the lens of racial, gender and economic equity and diversity.
Among the many highlights of the night was a timely conversation Alex Merhan led with U.S. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen, a former Bay Area Council Executive Committee member. Recorded just the day before, the conversation featured Yellen’s insights from her participation in the recent COP26 climate conference, what we can expect from the recently passed infrastructure bill, how the Biden Administration is addressing rising inflation and the outlook for a resolution on raising the debt ceiling ahead of early December deadline.