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2021 Speakers

Keynote Speaker

Julián Castro

2020 presidential candidate, former mayor of San Antonio, Secretary of HUD under Barack Obama

headshot Julián Castro was the 16th Secretary of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) under President Barack Obama from 2014 to 2017  - the youngest member of the cabinet -  and was the Mayor of San Antonio from 2009 to 2014. Most recently, Mr. Castro was a Democratic candidate in the 2020 presidential election. He describes his vision of America as a “nation of moral authority that stands up for human rights.”

For nearly two decades, Mr. Castro has distinguished himself as a leader and public servant. As a graduate of Stanford University, he has ties to Silicon Valley and a unique perspective of its place in the national landscape.

From education to technology to safe and affordable housing, Mr. Castro has been at the forefront of innovative partnerships, programs, and achievements in the public sector.

As a presidential candidate, Mr. Castro emphasized immigration and education. drawing on his family’s background and his political experience in a border state. His campaign emphasized bold, progressive policies, especially on immigration and criminal justice reform. He made waves when he advocated for decriminalizing unauthorized border crossings, and when he highlighted victims of police shootings.

As mayor of San Antonio, Mr. Castro brought a strong focus to educational achievement and for making America’s seventh largest city a leader in the global economy. Under Mr. Castro’s leadership, San Antonio implemented Pre-K4SA, a high-quality early childhood learning initiative that is one of America’s strongest public pre-kindergarten programs and that he aspired to replicate at the national level.

His memoir, An Unlikely Journey: Waking Up from My American Dream, is an account of race and poverty in America. Born to unmarried parents in a poverty-stricken neighborhood of a struggling city, Mr. Castro details his unlikely journey to becoming a national figure.

Mr. Castro is a graduate of Stanford University and Harvard Law School.

“When my grandmother got here almost a hundred years ago, I’m sure that she never could have imagined that just two generations later, one of her grandsons would be serving as a member of the United States Congress (Julian Castro’s twin brother, Joaquin Castro, United States House of Representatives for Texas' 20th congressional district) and the other would be standing with you here today to say these words: I am a candidate for president of the United States of America.”

Featured Speaker

Shellye Archambeau

Former CEO of MetricStream, Fortune 500 board member, Advisor and Author

headshot Shellye Archambeau is the former CEO of MetricStream, a Silicon Valley-based, governance, risk, and compliance software company where she shepherded the fledgling startup into a global market leader. Ms. Archambeau has over 30 years of experience in technology as a CEO and board director with a track record of brands building and guiding high-performance teams. Ms. Archambeau currently serves on the boards of Verizon, Nordstrom, Roper Technologies, and Okta. She is also a strategic advisor to Forbes Ignite and the President of Arizona State University, and serves on the board of two national nonprofits, Catalyst and Braven.

Ms. Archambeau is the author of Unapologetically Ambitious: Take Risks, Break Barriers and Create Success on Your Own Terms. The book is designed to inspire readers with tools to “…fight the battles, make tradeoffs and create the life you want.” She is a contributor to Forbes and the protagonist of the Harvard Business School Case Study: Becoming a CEO.

Featured Speaker

Shiloh Ballard

Executive Director, Silicon Valley Bicycle Coalition

headshot Shiloh Ballard joined the Bike Coalition after more than 14 years at the Silicon Valley Leadership Group as senior vice president for housing the community development. There, she directed the organization's housing, transportation and land use policy portfolio working with industry and civic leaders to bring innovative solutions to the region's growth challenges. Her work led to the adoption of uniform green building policies in Santa Clara County, the passage of strong affordable housing policies, and the passage of statewide Proposition 1C, California's most recent affordable housing bond.

Recognized by the Silicon Valley Business Journal as a "40 under 40" and as a YWCA "Women in Leadership," she was awarded the 2015 "Housing Hero" by the California Housing Consortium. In 2019 State Senator Jim Beall named her a "Trailblazer" Woman of the Year.

Ms. Ballard earned her bachelor's degree in environmental studies from UC Santa Cruz. Until 2020 she served on the San Jose Planning Commission, she currently serves on the board of the Housing Trust, and is among the founders of SV@Home. In her spare time she enjoys reading, cooking, growing vegetables and mountain biking.

Featured Speaker

Sally M. Benson

Precourt Family Professor, Energy Resources Engineering Department, School of Earth, Energy and Environmental Sciences at Stanford University

headshot Sally M. Benson is the Precourt Family Professor in the Energy Resources Engineering Department in the School of Earth, Energy and Environmental Sciences at Stanford University. From 2014-2020 she served as the Co-Director of the Precourt Institute for Energy, and was formerly the Director of the Global Climate and Energy Project at Stanford, a $215 M research program focused on the development of innovative energy technologies for reducing global warming.

Professor Benson has published widely in top journals on energy and the environment. Her research is centered on low carbon energy solutions for both developed and emerging economies. An internationally recognized leader in Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) technology, she has co-led numerous studies for the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), National Academies of Science (NAS), and the National Petroleum Council (NPC) on technology status and research needs to advance CCS.

Professor Benson has degrees from Barnard College and the University of California at Berkeley. She was awarded an Honorary Doctorate by Smith College, awarded the Greenman Prize by the IEA Greenhouse Gas Control Program, the International Environmental Award from the Society for Petroleum Engineers. Prior to joining Stanford University she held a number of leadership positions at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, including Earth Sciences Division Director, Associate Laboratory Director for Energy Sciences, and Deputy Director.

Featured Speaker

Sara Cody, MD

County Health Officer, Santa Clara County

headshot Dr. Sara Cody serves as both health officer and director for the Public Health Department for Santa Clara County. In her dual roles, she oversees 450 staff who lead more than 30 programs dedicated to providing services that prevent disease and promote health and equity for nearly two million county residents.

With more than a 20-year career, she leads the organization in providing services, assessing and reporting on community health, and working on policy and strategic planning. She also serves as a board member for several organizations and is the vice chair-elect of the Big Cities Health Coalition.

Prior to joining the county, Dr. Cody completed a postdoctoral fellowship as an Epidemic Intelligence Service Officer with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. She graduated from Yale School of Medicine, followed by a residency in internal medicine at Stanford Hospital. Born and raised in the County, she received her bachelor’s degree from Stanford University.

Dr. Cody was largely credited for promptly advocating for measures that would limit the spread of COVID-19 when the pandemic reached the United States in 2020. She led the Public Health Department to establish an incident command center on January 23, three days after the first confirmed case in the country, then established a contact-tracing mechanism in an effort to stop the propagation of the disease. Dr. Cody issued the first guidelines on the closure and cancelation of public gatherings on March 3, extending them to sporting events, festivals, and bars on March 9. She was an early advocate of requiring residents to "shelter-in-place", which was put in effect on March 16 in seven counties of the Bay area, with Governor Gavin Newsom adopting that policy for the whole state three days later.

Featured Speaker

Kevin Fang

Assistant Professor, Sonoma State University and Mineta Transportation Institute

headshot Kevin Fang is an Assistant Professor of Geography, Environment, and Planning at Sonoma State University, and an instructor and research associate with the Mineta Transportation Institute at San Jose State University. His research centers on sustainable modes of travel and their users and how land use patterns can facilitate or inhibit their use. In recent years, he has been an early researcher on emerging “micromobility” travel trends (e.g. scooters) in cities. Dr. Fang was a 2017 recipient of the National Academies Transportation Research Board Fred C. Burggraf Award recognizing early career researchers. A Silicon Valley native, Kevin is an alum of Fremont High School in Sunnyvale.

Featured Speaker

Freada Kapor Klein

Entrepreneur, activist in the field of organizational culture and diversity

headshot Freada Kapor Klein is a Founding Partner at Kapor Capital. Ms. Kapor Klein invests in seed-stage tech startups designed to create positive social impact by closing gaps of access, opportunity, or outcome for low-income communities and communities of color. The companies solve actual problems, aspiring to simultaneously generate economic value and positive social impact. Often, the founders are drawing on their lived experiences to create businesses that address real needs.

In collaboration with the Kapor Center’s research team, Ms. Kapor Klein has co-authored studies on who leaves tech and why and on the different biases experienced by Black, Latinx, Asian, and White female entrepreneurs. Her publications include What’s it like to be a female tech entrepreneur? and Tech Leavers.

Ms. Kapor Klein is the founder of SMASH, now in its 18th year, which provides rigorous STEM education and access to social capital for low-income high school students of color on 10 university campuses across the country.

Ms. Kapor Klein is a member of the Obama Foundation Tech Policy Council, the U.C. Berkeley Board of Visitors, and the council that formed the Hollywood Commission chaired by Anita Hill. She is a board member of the edtech company, Genius Plaza, and serves on the advisory boards of Twilio.org and Permanent Impact Capital.

Featured Speaker

Hon. Sam Liccardo

Mayor, City of San Jose

headshotIn 2015, Sam Liccardo became San José’s 65th mayor and one of the youngest individuals to serve in San José’s highest elected office. During his time as mayor he has focused on spurring the San José economy, investing in Silicon Valley youth, advancing smart environmental policies and improving public safety, to name a few. He has also launched a number of new initiatives designed to help create a more equitable San José, and to address the growing inequality of Silicon Valley.

Prior to his election to public office, Sam spent a number of years in public service serving as a federal and local criminal prosecutor. Sam’s extensive work in the community also included teaching political science at San José State University, co-founding an innovative program to mentor children, serving on the boards of several affordable housing organizations and advocating for several successful countywide ballot measures that are bringing BART to San José. In 2006, voters elected Sam to the first of his two terms on the City Council, where he led efforts to revitalize its downtown, preserve San José’s hillsides and open space, boost funding for affordable housing and open a world-class soccer stadium for the San José Earthquakes.

After graduating from Bellarmine College Prep in San José, Sam attended Georgetown University, where he rowed crew as captain of the heavyweight squad. He graduated magna cum laude in 1991, and enrolled at Harvard Law School and Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government. After graduating with honors with a law degree and a master’s degree in public policy, Sam returned to the Bay Area in 1996.

Featured Speaker

Nicole Taylor

Chief Executive Officer, Silicon Valley Community Foundation

headshot Nicole Taylor is president and CEO of Silicon Valley Community Foundation. She brings together a rich background in Bay Area philanthropy, nonprofit administration and fundraising with extensive experience in both the private and public sectors.

Since taking the helm at SVCF, Nicole has led the organization to renew its focus on the many challenges facing residents of San Mateo and Santa Clara counties. She has championed efforts to increase local giving from SVCF donors and offer donors new avenues for working with the community foundation so they can be effective philanthropists.

In April 2020, Nicole accepted an invitation from San José Mayor Sam Liccardo to be among the five co-chairs of the Silicon Valley Recovery Roundtable. This group of business and community leaders will be addressing the challenging topic of how Silicon Valley will adapt and thrive in the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic. In the early months of pandemic response, SVCF raised over $50 million for funds to meet the needs of individuals, families, nonprofit organizations, small businesses and education systems across 10 counties in the Bay Area.

When Nicole joined SVCF in December 2018, she returned to the Bay Area from Arizona, where she had served as vice president of the ASU Foundation. She also previously served as deputy vice president and dean of students at Arizona State University. Prior to her time at ASU, Nicole was the associate vice provost of student affairs and dean ofcommunity engagement and diversity at Stanford University, after serving as president and CEO of Thrive Foundation for Youth in Silicon Valley.

Nicole also spent more than 15 years with the East Bay Community Foundation, eventually serving as its president and CEO for six years. Nicole received both her M.A. in Education and A.B. in Human Biology from Stanford University, and she began her career as an educator in Oakland public schools. She served on the board of the Federal Reserve of San Francisco for six years and is currently a board member for Common Sense Media.

Featured Speaker

Benedict Tranel

Principal, Gensler

headshot Ben Tranel is an architect focused on how the built environment communicates values and shapes our experience every day. Over his 14 years in Gensler’s San Francisco office, his portfolio spans mixed use, residential, office, hospitality, civic, and cultural projects. Twice Ben has been granted “40 Under 40” awards, and he has led his teams to many design honors from organizations including the American Institute of Architects, Architect Magazine, Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habit, World Architecture News, and Engineering News Record. Ben holds a Bachelor of Arts in architecture from Washington University, in St. Louis, and a Master of Architecture from Columbia University.