Can you remember what you were doing 35 years ago?
July 18, 1977: Jerry Brown was the Governor of California (for the first time); news outlets were recounting the New York City blackout (compared to the ’65 Northeast blackout); the Fortune 500 included brands like HP (#200), IBM (#8) and Unisys (#120); Star Wars Episode IV was number one in the box office (the first time it was released); and, I was newly married and working for Docutel improving the first generation automated teller machine (before they had touch screens). It was also the day HP Co-Founder Dave Packard, joined Intel Co-Founder Bob Noyce, AMD Founder Jerry Sanders and others at Rickey’s Hyatt House (an ‘institution’ demolished in 2005 to make way for 185 private residences) to form the Santa Clara County Manufacturing Group.
In the 35 years that have passed, the organization has changed its name a few times, but not its core mission: the Silicon Valley Leadership Group represents its member companies (now more than 375 strong) on issues, programs and campaigns that affect the economic health and quality of life in Silicon Valley, including energy, transportation, education, housing, health care, tax policies, economic vitality and the environment. It has a proven record of accomplishments (in business we call that ROI):
In the 80s the Leadership Group led California’s first countywide transportation sales tax measure which built Hwy 85, Hwy 237, & expanded Hwy 101.
Transportation remained a hot topic during the 90s when the Leadership Group led the 2nd countywide transportation tax, delivering 19 road and rail transit improvements on time and on budget. Housing was also a priority for the Group which established America’s first voluntary housing trust fund that has already helped 10,000 Silicon Valley families.
Throughout the 2000s the Leadership Group continued to advocate for transportation improvements leading the 2000 BART capital construction campaign and 2008 BART operation and maintenance cost campaign.
I joined the Board of the Leadership Group in 2009 because I agreed with Dave Packard’s premise that as leaders “our job is not to sit on the sidelines and cheer nor jeer, our job is to get into the game and move the ball forward.” Under the thoughtful leadership of CEO Carl Guardino, I’ve been proud to serve, most recently as Board Chair. Through my association, I’ve had the opportunity to meet a number of elected officials and joined delegations to our State’s and Nation’s Capitals. I’ve attended countless regional events and roundtable discussions advocating for corporate tax reform and key legislation to restore and maintain the economic vibrancy and innovation that is Silicon Valley.
Most importantly for me, I’ve tried to lead by example – to demonstrate to my colleagues at Brocade, and other enterprises, that effective corporate stewardship requires consistent civic stewardship. One does not exist without the other.
If you are a Silicon Valley company and a member of the Leadership Group, I salute you. If you are involved in another public-private partnership, I thank you for being engaged. If you’re not…well, get off the sidelines and get involved.