Open Letter to Governor Newsom

February 4, 2019

Dear Governor Newsom:

You have been clear in your commitment to this vision, and we believe you have the talent and passion to transform the vision into a reality. As you know, the need to do so is both urgent and critical. Through our signatures below, we express our commitment to work alongside you to achieve this goal.

California has suffered an economic earthquake.  On one side of the fault line, we have seen the greatest accumulation of wealth in history. On the other, the effects have been devastating. We have the highest rate of poverty in the country, the third highest homelessness rate, and the third highest cost of living. If education is the great equalizer, the outlook is no better; California is ranked 47th nationally in the share of recent high school graduates who enroll in four-year colleges, and shows some of the biggest racial/ethnic disparities in college-going and attainment nationally. These statistics are unconscionable, and disastrous for the state’s future both economically, and socially.

Together, we believe we can dramatically improve these numbers and make unprecedented progress, within a decade. We have access to data and tools that can catalyze public policy results in ways unimaginable even in the recent past. By combining these with active listening and genuine public engagement and accountability, we can start reversing current trends while reinvigorating public confidence in Government’s ability to solve big problems and modeling new ways to collaborate with non-governmental sectors. There is plenty to do; we need systems that welcome anyone willing to help, including from the (Do It Yourself) DIY movement, as you foresaw in your book, Citizenville. We also need to be open to entirely new approaches to service delivery and problem solving, if there is reason to believe a new approach will benefit more people.

The following initial actions would set a course for clear, transformative change. We urge you to task a senior official in your administration, in consultation with the Office of Planning and Research (OPR), to develop plans to execute these priorities in time to inform the May 2019 Budget Revision:

  • Develop specific, high-level goals, commit to deadlines, and broadly define how they will be achieved, with flexibility for the diverse regions of our state;
  • Develop clear metrics to measure progress toward those goals;
  • Monitor progress over time, to enable anyone interested in being part of the solution to understand what’s working and what needs to be improved;
  • Put in place the data systems needed to support cutting edge tracking of policy performance across agencies and consider routinized data sharing with non-governmental entities, to confirm remedies work as intended, can be adjusted when needed, ultimate outcomes can be measured and known, and what it all costs -- or saves – taxpayers; and
  • Design for inclusivity and accountability throughout this work.

We will do everything in our power to help deliver on this promise. We will make the case for change, spread the word, and build support. But to help you, and for the private sector, the nonprofit sector, local governments, and creative Californians in every corner of the state to help, we need clear, specific leadership, and a game plan. Let’s not waste a moment or dollar on something that doesn’t work, and let’s build a way for Californians anywhere in the state to support and help you reach these shared goals, right on time.

California has always had the ingenuity to solve big problems. We believe it now has the leadership and drive to solve this one. Under Governors Schwarzenegger and Brown, California became a global leader on a wide range of climate issues. We believe your Administration is positioned to offer similar groundbreaking leadership in society’s understanding of the far reaching social and economic value that comes from providing broad access to economic security, opportunity and mobility.

It would be malpractice for a doctor to use science from the 1930s to treat a patient today. And it would be akin to malpractice for our government and civic institutions to use anything less than the latest research, technology and wisdom in service to all the people of California and in preparation for our shared future. We stand ready to join you in this work, and look forward to engaging our richly diverse population in this common mission, restoring confidence in the power of democratic governance, and providing another Made-in-California model for building policy solutions that benefit and bond our communities from Modoc and Shasta-Trinity, to the Mojave and Joshua Tree.

With your leadership, we know we can do this.  Let’s get started.

Very sincerely,

Sam Blakeslee, Founding Director, Institute for Advanced Technology and Public Policy, Cal Poly San Luis Obispo; former California State Senator, Assemblyman, and Assembly Republican Leader

Virginia Hamilton, former Regional Administrator, U.S. Department of Labor

Kathay Feng, National Redistricting Director, Common Cause; former Executive Director, California Common Cause*

Pete Peterson, Dean & Senior Fellow, Pepperdine School of Public Policy, Davenport Institute, Pepperdine University*

Michele Siqueiros, President, Campaign for College Opportunity

David B. Smith, CEO, X Sector Labs; former Managing Director, Presidio Institute

Jonathan Stein, Voting Rights Program Manager, Asian Americans Advancing Justice - Asian Law Caucus*

Ashley Swearengin, President and CEO, Central Valley Community Foundation, Former Mayor, Fresno

Zabrae Valentine, Co-founder, CA Forward and the CA Forward Action Fund

Pete Weber, former Vice-President, FMC Corporation; former CEO, TeKnowledge, Inc.; former CEO, Riverbend International; Founder and Chair, Fresno Bridge Academy; Co-Chair California Forward

Jessica Pitt, Executive Director, HealthPATH Alameda Health System

Simone Otus Coxe, Co-founder and Board Chair, CALmatters, KQED and Internews

Hilary Hoynes, Professor of Economics and Public Policy; Co-Director, Berkeley Opportunity Lab, University of California Berkeley

Zac Townsend, former Chief Data Officer of the State of California; Partner, Deciens Capital

Lauryn Agnew, Founder, Bay Area Impact Investing Initiative

Sarah Swanbeck, Executive Director, Berkeley Institute for the Future of Young Americans

Erin Coghlan, Policy Director, Berkeley Institute for the Future of Young Americans

Kim Belshé, Executive Director, First Five LA; former Secretary of Health and Human Services, State of California

Peter Barth, Director of Public Policy and Government Affairs at First 5 LA; former Assistant Secretary of Health and Human Services

Moira Kenney, Executive Director, First 5 Association of California

Bill Bloomfield, President, web service company (retired)

Marian Kaanon, President/CEO, Stanislaus Community Foundation

David Grusky, Professor of Sociology; Director, Center on Poverty and Inequality, Stanford University

Elizabeth Hill, former Legislative Analyst, State of California

Sabrina Moyle, CEO, Hello!Lucky

Rob Lapsley, President, California Business Roundtable

Laura Tyson, Distinguished Professor, Graduate School, Berkeley Haas School of Business; 

Board of Trustees Chair, Blum Center for Developing Economies, UC Berkeley; former Chair, Council of Economic Advisers; former Director, National Economic Council 

Sarah Bohn, Director of Research and Senior Fellow, Public Policy Institute of California

Caroline Danielson, Policy Director and Senior Fellow, PPIC

Larry Rosenthal, Program Director, UC Berkeley Center on Civility & Democratic Engagement

Manuel Pastor, Professor of Sociology & Director, USC Program for Environmental and Regional Equity

Jeannine English, former State and National President, AARP; Former Executive Director, Little Hoover Commission; 2018 Stanford Fellow, Distinguished Career Institute

Kristin Olsen, Stanislaus County Supervisor; former Assembly Republican Leader; Partner, California Strategies

Caroline L. Whistler, CEO and Co-Founder, Third Sector

Jay Harris, President & Publisher, Public Intelligence, Inc.; former CEO & publisher, Mother Jones; 2018 Fellow, Stanford Distinguished Career Institute

Laura N. Chick, former Ca Inspector General for federal stimulus funds; former L.A. City Councilmember; former LA City Controller

Elisabeth Mason, Venture Philanthropist; Founding Director of the Stanford Technology, Opportunity and Poverty Lab, Stanford University

Carla Javits, President and CEO, REDF

Dowell Myers, Professor of Policy, Planning, and Demography, Sol Price School of Public Policy, USC

Radhika Shah, CoPresident Stanford Angels & Entrepreneurs, Founding Chair, Tech Advisory Group Stanford Handa Center for Human Rights, Advisor SDG Philanthropy Platform

Kristin Connelly, President and CEO, East Bay Leadership Council*

Joel Fox, Founder and Editor,

Drew Liebert, former Chief Counsel, California Assembly Judiciary Committee

Natalie Foster, Co-chair, Economic Security Project; Advisor, The Aspen Institute Future of Work Initiative

Miriam Kuppermann, Professor and Vice Chair for Clinical Research, Dept. of Obstetrics, Gynecology & Reproductive Sciences, UCSF

Steve Westly, Former California State Controller; Founder of the Westly Group

Dan Schnur, Professor, Annenberg School of Communications, University of Southern California; former Chairman, California Fair Political Practices Commission

Bill Shireman, President/CEO Future 500; Lecturer, U.C. Berkeley Haas School of Business

Marcie Gutierrez, Architect; Small business owner; Mentor, East Bay College Fund; Concerned parent

Julia Lopez, former President and CEO, College Futures Foundation

Vanessa Aramayo, Executive Director, Alliance for A Better Community

Melissa R. Michelson, Professor of Political Science, Menlo College, Author

Malka Kopell, Co-Founder, Civity

Heather McLeod Grant, Co-Founder, Open Impact

Roger Niello, Business Owner; former State Assemblyman; former County Supervisor

Megan Joseph, Executive Director, Rise Together Bay Area

David Wolf, Executive Director Emeritus, Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges (Western Association of Schools and Colleges); Co-Founder, Campaign for College Opportunity

Terri Feeley, Founder and Principal, Workforce Success; former Executive Director, SF Works

Deb Nankivell, CEO, Fresno Business Council

Todd Dipaola, CEO and Founder, inMarket; Co-Chair, Represent.Us*

Norman Kline, Founder and CEO, LibraryWorld, Inc.; former Mayor, City of Saratoga

Ted Lempert, President, Children Now; Co-founder, former CEO, EdVoice; former California State Assemblyman

Nora Silver, Founder and Faculty Director, Center for Social Sector Leadership, UC Berkeley-Haas School of Business

Mari Perez-Dowling, President & CEO, United Way of Kern County 

Rick London, President & CEO, United Way of San Luis Obispo County

Eric Harrison, President & CEO, United Way of Ventura County

Megan Timpany, President & CEO, United Way of Nevada County

Keisha Frost, President & CEO, United Way of Santa Cruz County

Rosemary Caso, President & CEO, United Way of Tulare County

Stephanie McLemore Bray, President & CEO, United Way California Capital Region

Elise Buik, President & CEO, United Way of Greater Los Angeles

Eddie Taylor, President & CEO, Northern Santa Barbara County United Way

Anne Wilson, President & CEO, United Way Bay Area

Pete Manzo, President & CEO, United Ways of California

Micah Weinberg, President, Bay Area Council Economic Institute

Michael Andrade, Writer/Artist

William Pace, Former Board Chair and Current Advisory Board Member, Pacific Community Ventures; Former Senior Fellow, Encore

Autumn McDonald, Director, New America CA

Roy Ulrich, President, California Tax Reform Association

Ratna Amin, Transportation Policy Director, SPUR

Jamie Gardner, CEO, Gardner Consulting; Executive Advisor, X Sector Labs

Larry Kubal, Founder and Managing Partner, Labrador Ventures

Dianne M. Millner, former Board President of Disability Rights California; 2018 Fellow, Stanford Distinguished Careers Institute

Helen F. Neville, BS, Retired Kaiser Nurse, Concerned Baby Boomer

Thomas Ehrlich, Adjunct Professor, Stanford Graduate School of Education; President Emeritus, Indiana University; Former Dean, Stanford Law School

Casey Beyer, CEO, Santa Cruz Area Chamber of Commerce

Margi Power, Governing Board Member, Hillsborough City School District; Program Director, Leadership San Mateo, Foster City, Burlingame and Hillsborough

Jessica Eastman Stewart, Executive Director, GO Public Schools Oakland

Patrice Berry, FUSE Executive Fellow, Office of Mayor Libby Schaaf; former Director, College Track, East Palo Alto

Travis Moore, Founder and Director, TechCongress

Ernie Ludy, CEO, 10xHealth

Valerie Kane, Policy Analyst

Deborah S. Mintz, Chief Advancement Officer, Beyond 12

Solana Rice, Director of State & Local Policy, Prosperity Now*

Marci Harris, CEO and Co-Founder, POPVOX

Sean Kline, Director, San Francisco Office of Financial Empowerment

John Pimentel, President, White Hat Renewables; Co-founder, Independent Alliance for California

Michela Bedard, My New Red Shoes

Kay O'Neill, Senior Strategist, Workforce and Economic Development at MYND.Global; former Director, workforce development, Cañada Community College

Kunal Merchant, Managing Director, Lotus Advisory

Terre Beynart, Software Engineer, UC Berkeley (retired)

Gabe Kleinman, Director of Portfolio Services & Marketing, Obvious Ventures

Pam Calloway, Executive Director, The Bread Project

Bob Lanter, Executive Director, California Workforce Association

Pete Weldy, Silicon Valley Community Foundation

Tom Sadler, Retired Partner Latham & Watkins, LLP; 2016 Fellow Stanford Distinguished Career Institute

Jonathan Hasak, Director of Public Policy and Government Affairs, Year Up

Peter Ortiz, Year Up

Reginald Tucker-Seeley, Assistant Professor, USC

Michele Godwin, Students Rising Above

Ed Durkee, Goodwill, Central Coast

Carolina Martin, Students Rising Above

Christopher J. Nellum, Senior Director, Higher Education; The Education Trust—West*

Jake Segal, Vice President, Social Finance

Alison Schmitt, UC Berkeley Goldman School of Public Policy

Ana Bertha Gutierrez, Associate Director, Economic Mobility @ JFF

Marsha Vande Berg, Former Chief Executive Officer, Pacific Pension (and Investment) Institute; 2016-17 Fellow Stanford Distinguished Careers Institute

Marty Alvarado, JFF

Jim Cunneen, Former California State Assemblyman

David deWilde, former CEO and Founder, Chartwell Partners Int’l.; former President, Government National Mortgage Association (‘Ginnie Mae’); former EVP, Fannie Mae

Nick deWilde, Managing Partner, Tradecraft

Ashley Green, Tech & policy professional; Millennial who cares deeply about the future of CA

Kevin Salwen, Author, Entrepreneur and Philanthropist; former Fellow, Stanford Distinguished Careers Institute

Lisa McNally

Zac Zeitlin, Partner, New Ground Ventures

Stewart Stranberg

David Waksberg, Jewish LearningWorks

Jared Levy, Social Venture Circle

Elliot Hoffman, Founder/former CEO, Just Desserts, San Francisco; Founder/CEO, REV

Marc Lesser, CEO, ZBA Associates LLC

Jill Portman, Shake It Up Brands!

Kalyne Foster Renda, Non-profit Director

Egon Terplan, SPUR

Dominic P. Renda, Jr., Founder and CEO, Oceanseed Project

Louis Newman, Associate Vice Provost for Undergraduate Education, Stanford University

Stephen Levy, Center for Continuing Study of the California Economy

Howard Wollner, NPR Foundation; Continuing Fellow, Distinguished Careers Institute Stanford University; Senior Vice President (Retired), Starbucks Coffee Company

Kate Schwass, GreenLight Fund

Tracey Grose, Founding Principal, TG Strategic Insights; former Vice President, Bay Area Council Economic Institute

Ryan Rauzon, Communications

Soren Juul Jorgensen, Fellow, Handa Center for Human Rights and International Justice, Stanford University; Founder, ForestAvenue

Theresa Nelson, Nonprofit consultant and community activist

Karen Hayes, Marketing

Cameron Washington, Video producer and filmmaker

David Vasquez-Levy, President, Pacific School of Religion, Berkeley, California

Karen Alden, Early Learning Advocate; Founder, Good2Know Network

Laura Powell, Executive Recruiter and Nonprofit Management Consultant

Angeli Fitch, Attorney

Melissa Jones, Executive Director, Bay Area Regional Health Inequities Initiative

Susie Faries, CEO, SciMed Partners, Inc.


*for identification purposes only

Note: We do share these positions with policy makers, and your expertise and motivation are informative and important. Your 'Affiliation' can be professional (current, former, or both and paid or pro bono; skim what others have included for examples) or personal ("concerned parent," Gen Xer (or) Millennial who wants to ensure every CA has a chance to thrive and share their talents with others"). And be specific if you can: "Professor of Early Childhood Development" is better than just "Professor." Thanks!

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