Speaker Bios

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Leiasa Beckham, Northern California Community Loan Fund (NCCLF)

NCCLF’s Senior Real Estate Consultant, Leiasa Beckham has over 15 years experience in real estate development and construction management. Leiasa served as a member of the project team for the highly successful SF Central Market Economic Strategy and is actively involved in efforts to ensure nonprofits organizations can continue to operate in the rapidly changing neighborhood.

Prior to joining NCCLF, Leiasa worked in the tenant improvement division at Swinerton Builders. Ms. Beckham also served on the Board of Directors for the San Francisco Community Land Trust, where she was project developer for the Land Trust’s first project, a 21-unit low-income limited equity co-op.

Leiasa holds a Masters in urban studies and planning from Massachusetts Institute of Technology and a Bachelor of Science in urban affairs and planning from City University of New York City.


Ener Chiu, EBALDC

Ener Chiu has been with EBALDC since 2004. For the first nine years, he worked in real estate development, where he successfully completed more than 375 units of affordable rental and ownership housing and medical clinic space totaling more than $130 million in total development costs. He was responsible for negotiating deal structures, securing financing and entitlements, managing contractors, vendors, and architects, project financial management, and community relations. In 2014, he transitioned into a new role within EBALDC focused on commercial planning and business support services. In this role, he has been developing proactive strategic and financial plans for EBALDC’s 300,000 square foot commercial real estate portfolio, which is comprised of ground floor retail space in mixed-use buildings, nonprofit office space, a shopping center, and community facilities. He has also developed a training curriculum for microenterprises in initial space planning and commercial leasing.

Mr. Chiu has been involved in a number of community ventures outside of his work at EBALDC. He chaired and volunteers time to Old Oakland Neighbors, a community group comprised of neighborhood residents and business owners focused on public safety and quality of life issues. He is a founding family member of Yu Ming Charter School, a public Mandarin Immersion school started in 2011, and located in Oakland’s Golden Gate neighborhood. He serves on the Investor Oversight Committee of a local triple-bottom-line business startup located in the Uptown neighborhood called the New Parkway, a pizza picture pub which started operations in 2013, and whose social mission is to build community through film and great food. Currently, Mr. Chiu serves on two nonprofit boards: East Bay Housing Organization, an affordable housing advocacy organization; and the Pacific Renaissance Plaza Association, which manages the largest mixed-use residential and commercial building in Oakland Chinatown. Ener lives in Old Oakland with his wife, two daughters, and a pit-bull.


Sarah Filley, PopUpHood & OppSites

Sarah Filley is Cofounder and Executive Director of Popuphood and Chief Marketing Officer for OppSites. She is a local economic development strategist, and public speaker on urban innovation, creative placemaking and retail trends. Her interdisciplinary background in public art and civic engagement serves as a foundation to bring design thinking to city scale. Understanding how cities can integrate creative and technology based solutions to increase civic participation for inclusive and sustainable growth is her passion. 

Her unique approach has been profiled in SPUR‘s Urbanist magazine and Popuphood has been featured in the 2012 Venice Biennale for Architecture exhibition, numerous national and international reports including Artplace, the Knight Foundation, and PSFK, The New York Times, Sunset Magazine, Fast Company, and the Huffington Post.

Filley has the distinct honor of facilitating retail conversations for The City of Melbourne’s Spring Fashion Week, the Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC), the Office of Workforce and Economic Development in San Francisco, the International Council of Shopping Centers (ICSC), the International Economic Development Council (IEDC), BALLE (Business Alliance for Local Living Economies), and the Center for a New American Dream. She recently served on the judging panel for the National Endowment for the Arts Our Town Grant and is currently sponsoring AB2719 a state policy bill for mobile retail and temporary vending like pop-up retail.


Molly Clark, Neto Community Network

As co-founder and Managing Partner of Neto Community Network in Concord, CA, Molly Clark brings 30 years of experience as a social innovator in the nonprofit and philanthropic sector, with a focus on social and economic equity. She has developed specialized expertise in models that build resilient social and professional ties between people from marginalized communities and those in better-off communities. Molly’s approach is informed by cutting-edge practitioners and theorists in grassroots economic and microenterprise development, psychology, social capital theory and behavioral economics. She has been inspired by her work with several leading social change pioneers including: Mauricio Lim Miller of the Family Independence Initiative; Henry Izumizaki of the Russell Family Foundation; and Jeffrey Ashe, founder of Working Capital, an early large-scale experiment in U.S. microenterprise development.

In 2012, Molly and several colleagues co-founded Neto Community Network, a nonprofit consulting and training center that focuses on the equitable, people-based development of communities. Its mission is to create a more connected society and a fair economy, starting at the community level. Neto addresses an urgent, yet overlooked problem in the revitalization of communities and the social equity movement nationally: How to build social connections and identity of interest across lines of class, race, religion and

political affiliation, so people can work together toward common ends. Neto’s models build the social cohesion that must be in place to generate broad-based support and political will for a more equitable society and economy.


Amanda Elliott, Richmond Main Street Initiative

Amanda Elliott is the executive director of the Richmond Main Street Initiative. She holds a Master’s degree in leadership from St. Mary’s College. As the executive director of Richmond Main Street for the past seven years, she has been instrumental in developing exciting activities and events that celebrate the rich history and diversity of the city. She is responsible for managing and supervising the activities, operations and services of the organization; developing strategies for enhancing the downtown economy; establishing relationships with property and business owners, local government and the community at large. She was instrumental in developing an outreach strategy to engage property and business owners to create the first and only Property Business Improvement District (PBID) in the City of Richmond and West Contra Costa County. Amanda has also developed other noted programs and projects including the Summer Youth Entrepreneur Program, Art in Windows, and the Pilot Neighborhood Ambassador Program which earned the organization a 2013 MetLife Foundation Community-Police Partnership Award.

Amanda is the 2011 recipient of community service awards from Black American Political Action Committee and Full Vision Arts Foundation. She serves on the board of the Community Housing Development Corporation, the California Main Street Alliance and the City of Richmond Economic Development Commission.


Shari Godinez, Executive Director, Koreatown Northgate CBD

Shari Godinez has been the executive director of KONO since 2011. During that short period, she has facilitated many property owner and entrepreneur relationships bringing multiple new businesses into the district. As a result, the property vacancy rate has declined from 47 percent in 2010 to 12 percent in 2013 under her leadership. The district has become the new hot spot of Oakland, with local realtors listing property proximity to the district as an amenity. Mrs. Godinez also participated in negotiations to establish organizational structure around what is now the premiere monthly art event in Oakland, Oakland First Fridays, which draws 20,000 attendees to the district each month and has been profiled in national media publications like The New York Times. Ms. Godinez also worked in collaboration with artists to commission art murals and utility box art designs to alleviate graffiti and promote the district as an artistic tourist destination. Her utility box art project was used by the City of Oakland as a positive example in their updated zoning and guideline publications of 2013. 

Ms. Godinez has cultivated many non-profit and community partnerships throughout the city. Over the summer Hack the Hood, a non-profit technology organization, employed youth summer workers to assist district merchants in listing their business on Google’s search engine, since many of the business owners do not use computers. Ms. Godinez also manages sub-contracts with the security and maintenance company Safety1st. Working closely with neighborhood watch groups, Safety1st, and Oakland Police Department Captain, the district has seen an overall decline in violent crime. 

Previous to working at Koreatown Northgate CBD, Ms. Godinez was the program manager/executive director for the nonprofit organization, the Oakland Merchants’ Leadership Forum; served on the Oakland Grown marketing committee; spent 15 years as a private business owner of a retail store and has also been a property manager for the past 20 years currently managing 16 units.


Erin Kilmer Neel, Sustainable Business Alliance

Erin Kilmer Neel is passionate about building more humane, equitable and sustainable local economies by supporting local independent businesses to thrive and be a force for good. To that end, Erin currently serves as the executive director of the Sustainable Business Alliance in the San Francisco East Bay, where she works to connect and provide resources to sustainable and socially responsible businesses, and build tools to help people spend and invest consciously. She recently served as program officer at One Pacific Coast Foundation, a unique foundation in Oakland, CA, that is the sole shareholder of a community bank. At the foundation she had the opportunity to work on a variety of inspiring activities, including building new alternatives to predatory financial services, creating a retail banking strategy to support low-income communities and conscious consumers, developing the City of Oakland Business Assistance Center website, and managing Oakland Unwrapped!, an e-commerce marketplace she created for Oakland independent businesses and artists.

Erin co-founded Oakland Grown and the Oakland Indie Awards, is a BALLE Local Economy Fellow, and serves on the board of directors of the American Independent Business Alliance (AMIBA). Erin has a Master of City Planning from MIT and a Master of Education in educational media and computing from Arizona State University.

Her passion for community development arose out of the juxtaposition of her car-centric life in northern California and the lives she observed in her travels through Southeast Asia. Her ardent belief in the social, economic, social, and political impact of community ownership and control of resources strengthened during her time as a volunteer in Thailand, where she helped build grassroots, community-owned eco-tourism villages. She is head over heels in love with her husband Beau Kilmer, with whom she likes to kayak, camp, travel, dance, and sing karaoke (in the confines of their home).


Katy L. Johnson, Wells Fargo & Company

Katy Johnson, an 18-year financial services industry veteran, is Wells Fargo’s Vice President and Community Development Officer serving the City and County of San Francisco. She is responsible for building and strengthening Wells Fargo’s relationship with low-to-moderate income communities by collaborating with San Francisco nonprofits, community leaders and government officials. Katy’s primary focus areas are small businesses, workforce development, affordable housing and financial literacy. She also manages the Wells Fargo Small Business Neighborhood Renovation program for the SF and Greater Bay Regions

Katy is actively involved in the community as she serves on the board of directors of Bay Area Video Coalition (BAVC), the San Francisco Workforce Investment Board (WISF), Homeownership SF and Working Solutions’ Microloan Committee.  

Prior to joining Wells Fargo, Katy’s focus was human resources and organizational development including recruiting for banking and financial institutions. Katy graduated from the University of San Francisco with a Bachelor’s degree in organizational behavior. 


Jose Martinez-Saldana, Salinas United Business Association (SUBA)

Jose Martinez-Saldana, M.Ed. is executive director of the Salinas United Business Association (SUBA), a 501c6 business improvement district (BID) in Salinas, California. SUBA is the largest business association in Monterey County and is a vibrant and dynamic retail hub. Prior to joining SUBA in 2010, Mr. Martinez-Saldana worked in higher education for 20 years, building and directing educational programs for secondary students and non-traditional college students. Mr. Martinez-Saldana also has a consulting business, EDvolution Inc., that specializes in grant writing, program evaluation, and training.

Jose grew up in San Jose, earned a Bachelor of Science in Political Science from Santa Clara University, and a Master of Education in Higher Education Leadership from American InterContinental University, and is a second year doctoral student at University of La Verne.


Marsha Murrington, Bay Area LISC

Marsha Murrington is director of economic development for Bay Area LISC. She has more than 19 years of economic development experience including 15 years of direct program service with the Unity Council in Oakland’s Fruitvale district. By utilizing a comprehensive approach to developing programs and community partnerships, Marsha has realized many accomplishments that include: developing a LISC sponsored neighborhood commercial corridor revitalization program that implemented a robust façade improvement program, realized a significant reduction in the commercial vacancy rate (40% to less than 1%), and transitioned to a business improvement district; established two social enterprise businesses to create jobs for low-income residents; developed micro-enterprise opportunities through a public market business incubator; and designed a workforce development program that included industry sector partnerships with educators and employers. Her work increased the economic vitality of the Frutivale commercial corridor and created new jobs for residents. Marsha has a Bachelor’s degree in psychology from UC Berkeley.


Jorge Rivas Jr. 

Jorge is currently project manager for the Invest in Neighborhoods Initiative, housed at the San Francisco Mayor’s Office of Economic and Workforce Development (OEWD). As a project manager, he assists with general program development and serves as liaison to various commercial corridors participating in the program. He assists with implementing various program elements that help strengthen commercial corridors by leveraging City resources, providing technical assistance to key community stakeholders, and fostering partnerships to further neighborhood goals. 

Jorge has also worked at the California Department of Transportation where he served as a transportation planner for 4 ½ years, implementing environmental justice and community based planning programs. He has worked at Los Angeles Mayor’s Office of Housing and Economic Development, and with the East Bay Asian Local Development Corporation (EBALDC) in Oakland. 

Jorge has a Master’s degree in planning from the University of Southern California and an undergraduate degree from the University of California, Berkeley in urban studies. He enjoys staying physically active and visiting his family in the San Joaquin Valley.


Lena Robinson, Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco

Lena Robinson is a regional manager in community development at the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco covering the area of northern California. In this capacity she works to increase access to capital, credit and banking services for low-income communities and households in compliance with the Community Reinvestment Act. This objective is achieved in part by providing technical assistance and training on successful initiatives and programs, convening key stakeholders to identify community development needs, and facilitating partnerships between financial institutions and community-based organizations. Outcomes from such partnerships may result in increased affordable housing and neighborhood revitalization; loans and training for emerging small businesses; and expanded services and facilities that benefit low-income individuals. 

Lena serves as a board member for Neighborhood Housing Service East Bay and California CASA, and is also on the steering committee of the Alameda County Community Asset Network (ACCAN). Prior to joining the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco, Lena managed the housing program for international students at UC Davis Extension. She holds a Bachelor’s degree in Japanese studies from the Monterey Institute of International Studies and a Master’s degree in international affairs from Ohio University.


Crezia Tano 

Crezia Tano is a senior project manager at San Francisco’s Office of Economic and Workforce Development, overseeing the San Francisco’s Community Benefit District Program. Crezia has been with OEWD since 2008 as part of the Neighborhood Economic Development unit providing technical assistance to communities working to revitalize their commercial districts. Crezia assumed the role overseeing the Community Benefit’s District Program in July of 2012. In the two years that she has been managing the program, she has overseen the successful formation of the Top of Broadway CBD in North Beach, the renewal and expansion of the Central Market Community Benefit District, and the formation of the Lower Polk CBD. She is currently assisting five communities in their CBD formation efforts. 

Crezia also serves as Mayor Lee’s point person to Third Street in the Bayview and San Bruno Avenue in the Portola, and has lead business attraction efforts, which recent accomplishments include attracting Four Barrel Coffee to San Bruno Avenue and Michelin recommended Champa Garden to Ocean Avenue. Additionally, Crezia oversees the $7 million Neighborhood Economic Development budget. She holds a degree in urban and regional planning from Cal Poly Pomona.