SFMade’s Board of Directors announced on March 19th, 2021 that Kate Sofis, SFMade’s CEO and Co-Founder, has been selected by Mayor London Breed to serve as the Director of the San Francisco Office of Economic and Workforce Development (OEWD). Kate will leave SFMade in May.
“Kate put local manufacturing on the map, and she made certain that manufacturers have a voice at City Hall,” said Rosemarie Ovian, Co-Chair, SFMade Board of Directors. “She also recognized early on that manufacturing is one of the few remaining sectors with the potential to create well-paying jobs for people with barriers to employment. Although we will miss her dearly, she is eminently qualified to lead San Francisco’s Office of Economic and Workforce Development during these challenging times.”
Under Sofis’ leadership, SFMade has grown from a modest non-profit working exclusively in San Francisco to a regional economic and workforce development powerhouse with on-the-ground operations in San Francisco, San Jose, and the East Bay. SFMade’s workforce and youth development programs have built pathways for diverse residents to access training programs, entry-level employment opportunities, and careers in the industry. SFMade’s Bay Area Urban Manufacturing initiative has grown to become a region-wide effort that includes 30 cities and municipalities working together to ensure a more resilient, regional manufacturing ecosystem. Innovative zoning legislation spearheaded by SFMade and its sister non-profit PlaceMade – the Bay Area’s first non-profit manufacturing real estate developer – made it possible to build the Manufacturing Foundry at 150 Hooper, San Francisco’s first permanently affordable, multi-tenant building for local manufacturers who are committed to hiring low-income residents.
“Kate thinks big,” said Wenli Wang, Co-Chair, SFMade Board of Directors. “She combines big-picture thinking with an on-the-ground, entrepreneurial approach that creates maximum impact for all stakeholders. Fortunately for us, her many talents include leadership and organizational development. Kate and her fellow Co-Founder, Janet Lees, have built a skilled management team that includes experts in manufacturing, economic and workforce development, real estate development, and fundraising and nonprofit management who will continue the organization’s essential work.”
“Cities across the U.S. are facing a mix of interrelated challenges the likes of which we haven’t seen since the Great Depression,” said Sofis. “Some of these challenges stem directly from the COVID-19 crisis, others – housing, homelessness, affordability, and inequity – are related to the systemic challenges we face as we transition to a fairer, more equitable and resilient economy.”
“What we’ve learned at SFMade is how to work across silos to connect government, business, nonprofit, community colleges, and even high schools to reinvigorate urban and local manufacturing in a way that benefits all of our residents,” said Sofis. “I look forward to applying the lessons we’ve learned at SFMade to accelerate the City’s recovery from the pandemic while also building a stronger economy with opportunity for everyone, from working moms and people with disabilities to people who lack four-year degrees or face other barriers to employment.”
In the coming weeks, the SFMade Board will continue to share news about SFMade’s leadership transition.