Mayor London Breed Appoints Kate Sofis as Director of the Office of Economic and Workforce Development
Sofis has extensive experience in economic development and will play a critical role in strengthening the city’s economy and supporting workers as San Francisco recovers from the COVID-19 pandemic
San Francisco, CA — Mayor London N. Breed today appointed Kate Sofis to serve as the Director of the Office of Economic and Workforce Development (OEWD).
Kate Sofis is an internationally-regarded leader in equitable urban economic development. Her experience integrates a uniquely diverse background in entrepreneurship and innovation, manufacturing, creative, and technology industry expertise, workforce development, real estate development, and local and regional economic development strategy. Since 2010, she has served as the co-founder and CEO of SFMade, a public-private initiative that has helped catalyze a resurgence in local manufacturing and diverse employment in San Francisco. She recently served as a member of San Francisco’s COVID-19 Economic Recovery Task Force.
“I am excited to appoint Kate Sofis to lead our Office of Economic and Workforce Development,” said Mayor Breed. “The programs and services that OEWD provides will play a critical role in our City’s economic recovery from COVID-19. Her longstanding commitment to economic development and experiencing supporting local San Francisco businesses, along with her demonstrated focus promoting equitable economic development, make her a perfect fit for this role. I have full confidence that Kate has the experience and skill-set to lead the organization and ensure San Francisco comes back even stronger than before.”
“It is a privilege and an honor to be asked to lead OEWD during this critical time for our community,” said Kate Sofis. “I am excited to work with our Mayor, the Board of Supervisors, the incredible OEWD team, and across the public and private sectors to chart a path forward to economic recovery for the city I love.”
The Office of Economic and Workforce Development is responsible for supporting the economic vitality of San Francisco by promoting programs that attract and retain business, promote workforce development, maximize long-term public benefits in new development, strengthen small businesses, create international business opportunities in the City, and facilitate the revitalization of commercial corridors. This work is especially important as San Francisco gets on the road to recovery from COVID-19 and continues to support businesses and workers throughout the city.
Under Kate’s leadership, SFMade has supported more than 650 manufacturers to start, grow, and stay in the City, sustaining more than 7,500 jobs for local residents from all walks of life. In partnership with the City of San Francisco, in 2013 SFMade launched the first hiring program dedicated to manufacturing, followed one year later by the Bay Area’s first summer youth jobs program focused on “maker-careers.” The program, YouthMade, has provided paid internships to more than 500 low-income youth and career exposure classes to more than 1,000 youth in San Francisco public high schools. Most recently, Sofis led SFMade to launch the City of San Francisco’s first advanced manufacturing sector bridge academy, Next Generation Manufacturing, along with non-profit training partner, Humanmade.
“Kate Sofis has been an important leader and innovator in the local manufacturing community in San Francisco for over a decade. Throughout, she has demonstrated a strong commitment to creating good paying, blue collar jobs of the future, advancing local economic opportunities and celebrating the resilient character of San Francisco entrepreneurs,” said Assessor-Recorder Joaquin Torres, and former Director of OEWD. “Now she’s joining an extraordinary team at OEWD and together I know they will continue to execute Mayor Breed’s vision for an equitable economic and cultural recovery, one that benefits our diverse small businesses, neighborhoods and industries, and places San Francisco on a stronger and more just economic footing and centers those historically marginalized and now hardest hit by this pandemic.”
“As San Francisco begins to round the corner on the COVID-19 public health crisis, we see that the path to recovery must include our local business community who has stood by us,” said City Administrator Carmen Chu, Co-Chair of the San Francisco Economic Recovery Task Force. “In the decade that I have known Kate Sofis, I have witnessed her fierce commitment to development of our local manufacturing sector. She understands that for businesses to thrive, the pieces around land use, affordability, and regulations all need to work in harmony.”
In addition to her work at SFMade, Sofis has experience working with the City of San Francisco to develop and implement key policies to support economic development. She represented manufacturing on Mayor Ed Lee’s Business Tax Reform task force. She also played a lead role in developing San Francisco’s current industrial land use strategy, which led to the genesis of the City’s only non-profit affordable industrial development corporation, PlaceMade, and the completion of its first project, the Manufacturing Foundry at 150 Hooper. Kate served as the at-large Mayoral Appointee to the newly-formed Eastern Neighborhoods Citizens Advisory Committee for the first five years. Kate currently chairs the regional 30-city Bay Area Urban Manufacturing Initiative.
Since the onset of COVID-19, OEWD has helped lead the City’s response by serving as a central information hub and support for businesses and workers as they grapple with the incredible uncertainty and challenges created by the pandemic. OEWD has coordinated with public health officials and the business community to maximize safety and limit economic damage, led development and implementation of relief programs and policies for businesses and workers, and built a foundation for an equitable recovery. The department’s staff and resources, as well as its extensive network of civic and business leaders, philanthropy and community-based organizations, have been critical for providing these COVID-19 relief initiatives.
“Kate Sofis brings rare expertise and experience in both economic development and workforce development,” said Abby Snay, Former CEO, JVS. “Her vision of a strong economy that builds businesses and trains workers for good jobs makes her the right person to lead the Office of Economic and Workforce Development in this time of economic recovery.”
“Kate Sofis is such a natural fit to lead the OEWD. She has an incredible track-record, having taken SF Made from being merely an idea to being such an incredible resource for manufacturers and giving San Francisco businesses a seat at the table, on the local, state and even federal levels,” said Eileen Hassi Rinaldi, Founder and CEO, Ritual Coffee Roasters. “We are entering a time that will be critical for our city—the very things that make San Francisco what it is: the small businesses, the vibrant neighborhood corridors, the people, are going to be in need of someone effective, someone who knows both how to listen and how to synthesize great ideas into an actionable plan. And that’s Kate Sofis. As a small business owner and someone who loves San Francisco, I couldn’t be more confident that the people and the businesses of San Francisco will be in great hands.”
“San Francisco’s many small makers you know and love today, have made their businesses work in our city because of Kate Sofis’ vision to revitalize urban manufacturing in our city and the support structure she built to enable this movement through SFMade. It’s a big reason why Heath Ceramics is here,” said Robin Petravic, Managing Director, Heath Ceramics. “Whenever Heath Ceramics is adding to our production team at our factory in the Mission, we look to the jobs program Kate built at SFMade. There’s no doubt she’ll continue to support our local workforce and enable better job opportunities in her new role.”
“For more than a decade, Kate Sofis has built up our city’s manufacturing base and enriched our small business community,” said Rodney Fong, President and CEO, San Francisco Chamber of Commerce. “She is a champion for San Francisco’s economic development, workers, and entrepreneurs. We are so excited for her leadership as Director of OEWD, and the department is lucky to have her essential industry-specific knowledge and deep understanding of San Francisco based businesses.”
Prior to founding SFMade, Sofis was the Statewide Director for Pacific Community Ventures, and held senior positions at ICF Consulting, Bay Area Economics, and Ernst and Young. Sofis has a Master of Science in City Design and Social Policy from the London School of Economics and a Bachelor of Arts in Economics from Harvard University.
Sofis was born and raised in a working-class neighborhood in Buffalo, New York and is the daughter of a single-parent musician mother. She followed her childhood dream—to live and work in one of the most creative and vibrant cities in the world—to San Francisco 30 years ago and never looked back. Kate lives with her partner, Peter DeHaas, the founder and Executive Director of the San Francisco Disability Business Alliance, and their three teenage children, the youngest of whom is intellectually and developmentally disabled, in the West Portal neighborhood of San Francisco.