bay area council names new leader to head its economic institute

The Bay Area Council has named Jeff Bellisario Executive Director of its Economic Institute, one of the region’s premier research organizations whose work examines the many facets of the Bay Area innovation economy and its deep connections with economies around the world. Bellisario’s appointment comes at the same time the Economic Institute’s Board of Advisors elected Mark Duggan, Director of the Stanford Institute for Economic Policy Research, its new Chairman.

Bellisario takes the reins at a time when the Economic Institute is concluding one of its most productive years ever and heading into 2020 with a robust pipeline of research on a wide range of topics.

“Jeff was the clear choice to move the Economic Institute forward and grow its already distinguished reputation for incisive, data-driven research,” Duggan said. “Jeff’s leadership will ensure the Economic Institute remains the go-to source of data, analysis and insight for better understanding our region, helping shape sound public policy and exploring the Bay Area’s influence and connections in the larger global economy.”

Since joining the Economic Institute as a Senior Researcher in 2014, Bellisario has led the organization’s research on housing and transportation, the Northern California megaregion, and homelessness. His work has been featured in local and national media outlets, and he has been a frequent presenter to government agencies and other stakeholders on the region’s economic trends.

A seminal report Bellisario helped author on the Bay Area’s homelessness crisis attracted national attention this past spring, revealing the lack of coordination among disparate local programs and services and highlighting the need for more regional solutions and cooperation. The report drew praise from Gov. Newsom, leaders of the statewide commission he created to address the problem, and local leaders from around the region.

Bellisario has also been instrumental in establishing both the Economic Institute and the Bay Area Council as top leaders in the fast-growing megaregion, raising awareness about the increasing connections that are transforming the Bay Area, Sacramento and the Central Valley into a single, tightly integrated economic entity. His research has helped guide early thinking and planning on how to make investments in transportation, housing and workforce development to ensure the megaregion realizes its full economic potential.

“Jeff’s work has been invaluable in elevating the stature of the Economic Institute and continuing its long tradition of reliable, credible and highly respected research,” said Jim Wunderman, President and CEO of the Bay Area Council. “We’re particularly excited about the Economic Institute’s expanding influence through its research in building closer connections with economic partners around the world. This is an exciting area of incredible growth potential.”

The Economic Institute has authored numerous studies on the Bay Area’s connections with China, the broader Asian region, Europe and Canada. Research under way now is focusing on the region’s economic connections with India, Mexico and Australia. The work has spurred interest in the Bay Area among top business and government leaders around the world eager to understand the region’s economic success.

Prior to joining the Economic Institute, Bellisario earned a Master’s of Public Policy degree from UC Berkeley’s Goldman School of Public Policy. He also holds an undergraduate degree in finance from the University of Illinois and spent five years in the banking industry before moving to the Bay Area. He will lead a team of six researchers as the Economic Institute looks to continue its role as a valued forum for stakeholder engagement and an independent source of information and fact-based analysis.

“I’m extremely excited to lead the Economic Institute team at a time when it is vitally important to have a clear understanding our complex regional economy,” Bellisario said. “Regional leaders need to have a data-informed view of what’s happening here—not just in terms of the challenges that we face, but also the advantages that we have—so that they can make policy decisions that grow the Bay Area in a sustainable way.”

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