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The Leader August 2013

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The Power of Partnerships

By Carl Guardino, President and CEO

The Silicon Valley Leadership Group led 20 CEOs and senior officers to Washington, D.C. last week for three full days of advocacy for comprehensive immigration reform. The numbers only tell part of the story: 58 one-on-one visits with key members of the House of Representatives, including 33 Republicans who we believe are open to meaningful reform.

What made the visit unique – what continues to make our efforts unique – is the power of partnerships, often rather unlikely alliances, to advance our goal.

And I’m now optimistic that Congress will pass meaningful immigration reform.

  • The Leadership Group has focused in four strategic ways to “punch above our weight” at the national level. Each was underscored last week:Linking with national allies: The Leadership Group – as a regional organization – partnered with several well-respected national business association leaders. These include the Consumer Electronics Association, Business Roundtable,, Information Technology Industry Council, Semiconductor Industry Association, Tech America, TechNet and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. We are much more powerful together than we could ever be operating individually.
  • Combining efforts regionally: Our National Metro Business Alliance, consisting of 20 similar regional business associations, each have deep and long-term relationships with their own members of Congress. While in D.C., our partners with the Philadelphia Chamber of Commerce arranged a luncheon with their bi-partisan delegation to Congress.
  • The power of unlikely alliances: For the Leadership Group, immigration reform is about workers needed across the spectrum – be they high-tech, low-tech or no-tech – to fuel America’s innovation economy. That is why we are partnering with employers of all types. Our meetings in D.C. included partnerships with the California Strawberry Commission as well as the non-profit “Bibles, Badges and Businesses,” unlikely alliances that sent a powerful message around the Capitol and beyond.
  • Unprecedented member engagement: The Leadership Group is owned and driven by nearly 400 member company CEOs from global brands to novel start-ups. Our members are in all 50 states and almost all 435 congressional districts. For the past four months, we have painstakingly mapped every state and every congressional district where our member companies have facilities and employees. During the next seven weeks, while Congress is in recess, we are asking our members to engage directly in those districts. We will continue this outreach throughout the fall.

It is amazing what we can accomplish when we work together, for the common good, to advance what we know is for the country’s good. It is why I am optimistic that Congress will pass meaningful immigration reform.


Business Engagement Critical to Protect the Region from Flooding

By Francesca Wahl, Energy and Environment Associate & Mike Mielke, Vice President of Environmental Programs & Policy

The Bay Area experienced high tides that brought significant flooding last December. Trees fell, power lines came down, traffic was snarled, and at different times, both Muni and BART were out of operation. Scientists tell us we can expect this kind of flooding to not only continue, but that it will get worse and with more frequency due to global warming. In fact, as the oceans rise and storms carry more water, it is not hard to envision a time when the Bay Area might experience the kind of flooding that Superstorm Sandy delivered to the northeast.

The Bay Area is at particular risk due to our geography and infrastructure. Billions of dollars in assets are located right at the water’s edge; many of the existing levees that protect the South Bay were built more than 100 years ago and were not engineered to meet federal flood standards.

A major storm in the Bay Area could put hundreds of thousands of people and tens of billions of dollars in assets at risk not only threatening the public safety of the region but also directly impacting the innovation economy. To help ensure adequate preparedness and efforts moving forward, a public-private partnership has formed under the auspices of Senator Dianne Feinstein. With leadership provided by the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation, the City of San Jose, Save the Bay, the Silicon Valley Leadership Group and other key stakeholders have come together to help protect and restore critical Bayside lands and improve flood protection.

Vital to the success of the partnership is the engagement of the business community. Of the more than 250 technology companies that are directly in the flood risk zone, 106 are members of the Silicon Valley Leadership Group. These companies not only face direct risk due to flooding of their campuses, but must also come to grips with the vulnerability of the Bay Area infrastructure network (see graphic below). Imagine if sections of BART, significant portions of Highway 101 or any of the region’s wastewater treatment plants, not to mention communities located within a mile of the Bay, were under water for more than a week.

The Silicon Valley Leadership Group is coordinating with a number of groups to engage the business community. Our goal is to launch a business community taskforce to collaborate on strategy and help set direction for the next several years. If you are a member of the Leadership Group or a technology company representative and you would like to join the taskforce or learn more, please contact our VP for Environment Mike Mielke at [email protected] or 408-501-7858.

The Bay Area Flood Protection Task Force meeting will take place on August 15 from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. at Google, 1220 Charleston Road, Mountain View, CA 94043.

Source: Moore Foundation

Business and Public Leaders Come Together for Students at our Annual Education Summit

By Aditi Goel, Senior Associate for Education and Health Policy

The Silicon Valley Leadership Group believes that just as Silicon Valley helps power our innovation economy, it can similarly drive powerful reform in education by bringing together business and policy leaders to work on substantive change to improve our systems for our students, our teachers and our communities.

The 2013 Silicon Valley Leadership Group’s annual Education Summit convenes education leaders, business executives, policy makers, and elected officials to hear from nationally-renowned innovative leaders and to learn more about programs, policies and initiatives in Silicon Valley that are moving the needle forward for all students.

At the Summit, there will be panels covering topics such as the importance of investing in early childhood education, the state of public higher education in California, local innovation and a design thinking workshop meant for business and school leaders to explore new ways of approaching challenges in the education pipeline to improve outcomes for all students.
Notable speakers include:

  • Wendy Kopp, founder of Teach for America
  • Andrew Ng, co-founder and co-CEO of Coursera
  • Timothy White, Chancellor of California State University
  • Brice Harris, Chancellor of California Community Colleges

In addition to the wide array of panels and speakers, the Summit will also feature a Tech Floor where businesses can showcase new educational technologies or products for users to engage and an Education Partners table area where attendees can learn about nonprofit organizations that are supporting our education system.

The summit will take place on September 4 from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. at Microsoft Silicon Valley, 1065 La Avenida, Mountain View, CA 94043, with a reception to follow.

To register and learn more about the Summit’s agenda, please visit:

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