Kate Sofis’ experience integrates a rich background in entrepreneurship and innovation, manufacturing, and urban economic development. As Executive Director of SFMade, Kate leads an organization founded in 2010 that is already viewed as a new national model for creating a more equitable and diverse local economy by growing local manufacturing. SFMade’s innovative programs – which help manufacturers to access expertise, capital, and real estate and help lower-income residents and youth find full-time employment and paid internships -currently support more than 500 San Francisco-based manufacturers, employing more than 4000 people. Prior to SFMade, Kate held senior positions at Pacific Community Ventures, ICF Consulting, and in Ernst and Young’s West Coast manufacturing practice. She has also held operating roles at manufacturers, spanning computer and medical devices, ceramic tile, furniture, and green building product manufacturing.
Kate is also co-founder of the Urban Manufacturing Alliance, a national initiative which currently engages more than 50 other major US cities, all working on developing their own local manufacturing economies. The Urban Manufacturing Alliance works to connect major urban centers to each other and promotes the replication of successful urban manufacturing models across cities as diverse as New York, Chicago, Detroit, Cincinnati, Atlanta, Portland, and Los Angeles.
Kate currently serves as a Mayoral Appointee to the Eastern Neighborhoods Citizens Advisory Committee in San Francisco, has participated as an invited member of the Clinton Global Initiative on the US Economy since its inception in 2011, and is an appointee to the Special Commission on Manufacturing at the Miller Center in Washington D.C. Kate speaks widely on the topic of manufacturing, urban economic development, and the intersection of cities, jobs, and the maker movement. Most recently, she has been a featured speaker at SxSW, CityLab/Aspen Institute, the Initiative for Inner City Competitiveness, Techonomy, and the US Conference of Mayors. Kate has been published in Forbes, the Atlantic, the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, and Monocle Magazine as well as numerous local publications.
Kate holds an M.S. in City Design and Social Policy from the London School of Economics and an A.B. in Economics from Harvard University.
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Janet Lees played a lead role in launching SFMade and has been with the organization since its inception. As SFMade’s Senior Director, Janet oversees SFMade’s educational programming, the Local Retail/Brand platform, workforce programs, and the organization’s marketing communications strategy. Janet also oversees the City of San Francisco’s Fashion SF initiative. Janet has over 20 years of experience in small business, workforce, and economic development. Prior to SFMade, Janet served as Program Director at Renaissance Entrepreneurship Center, a position she held for over 10 years. Under Janet’s leadership the Renaissance Center became the first and only organization in the Bay Area to provide industry specific support to apparel entrepreneurs, expanded its footprint to operate in three Bay Area locations, and received numerous national awards for program innovation and excellence. Throughout her career, Janet has demonstrated a particular interest in supporting artisanal manufacturing and crafts people. She has worked with hundreds of small manufacturing businesses, including her husband’s modern furniture company, Jason Lees Design. Janet was nominated in 2009 for the Small Business Administration’s Women’s Business Advocate of the Year Award, currently serves as a mayoral appointee to the Workforce Investment San Francisco Board, and is Co-Chair of the City of San Francisco’s FashionSF Initiative. Janet is a regular speaker at local, national and international conferences and symposiums on urban manufacturing and economic development. A native of the UK, Janet studied English Literature, History and Politics at the University of Newcastle- Upon-Tyne, UK.
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Manager of Finance and Funder Engagement
As Manager of Finance and Funder Engagement, Michelle provides key support to the organization’s day-to-day functions as they relate to Human Resources, Governance and Finance including budgeting, contract management and grant reporting. Michelle’s experience includes over eight years within the non-profit environment in such industries as private equity and public broadcasting. Prior to joining SFMade, Michelle acted as the Financial Services Group Manager and then subsequently, the Business Systems Analyst at the public broadcasting station, KQED. In this role, Michelle acted as the financial liaison between her clients which included the Accounting, Membership, Development and Corporate support divisions. She was tasked with maintaining and establishing internal controls; acting as subject matter expert for workflow rules related to financial business practices and provided management with analytics pertaining to forecasting, cash flow and budgeting. Michelle volunteers at Martin’s Achievement Place, a Sacramento based non-profit agency that provides youth that have been impacted by abuse and trauma, with the tools and assistance necessary to deal with the realities of every day life.
Michelle holds a B.A. in Business Administration from Pepperdine University and is currently working toward her C.P.A licensure from Haas.
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Ferron oversees manufacturer engagement in SFMade’s Certified Local Manufacturer Program, including overseeing SFMade’s social media and marketing outreach, and specifically manages the Food and Beverage cluster of SFMade members. Prior to working at SFMade, Ferron served as Program and Development Coordinator at AnewAmerica Community Corporation in Berkeley, where she directly advised immigrant food and beverage entrepreneurs in Berkeley, Oakland, and San Jose. At AnewAmerica she also managed several technical service programs for over 200 entrepreneurs, including AnewAmerica’s first e-commerce training program. Ferron holds a BA in Journalism and Spanish from the University of Massachusetts at Amherst. Ferron also freelances as a journalist and blogger, reporting on local food producers and culture.
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Manufacturing Workforce and Hiring Manager
Claire manages SFMade’s Hiring Made Better Programs, including YouthMade and Inside Manufacturing—a youth internship program and school based program. She develops tools and education for hiring, surveys SFMade members about their workforce needs, partners with local workforce agencies, and provides assistance with workforce tax and training incentives. Claire has over five years of experience with managing effective, high performing programs and is passionate about the potential to make great connections between San Francisco manufacturers and San Francisco job seekers.
Prior to working at SFMade, Claire served as the Director of Workforce Services at Southwest Brooklyn Industrial Development Corporation (SBIDC) in Brooklyn, NY. She managed a team that placed about 100 local residents with local industrial and manufacturing businesses in Brooklyn each year. She also led a coalition of business intermediaries that received a planning grant to explore the expansion of workforce screening and matching services through business services organizations in Brooklyn. Previously, she managed a savings and workforce program for the City of New York’s Department of Housing Preservation and Development’s Section 8 Program.
Claire holds a BA in Urban Studies from the University of Pennsylvania and a Masters in Public Policy from UC Berkeley.
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Project Manager – Policy and Real Estate
Abbie Wertheim serves as a Project Manager at SFMade where she is coordinating national efforts to support manufacturing with the Urban Manufacturing Alliance, working on SFMade’s new industrial real estate initiative as well as supporting other policy initiatives.
Abbie has wide range of experience in real estate economics, public policy and urban planning. For five years, she worked at Seifel Consulting Inc., a San Francisco-based real estate economics consulting firm where she managed complex urban land use revitalization projects, such as the Hunters Point Shipyard redevelopment plan. She has experience assessing project feasibility for mixed-use projects, advising on public-private partnerships and developing economic development strategies including working on the San Francisco Economic Strategy. Recently, she served as Director of Programs for a growing international organization.
Abbie holds a BBA in International Finance from Texas A&M University and was a Coro Fellow in Public Affairs in San Francisco.
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Places to Make Program Agent
Noah Snyder manages SFMade’s Places to Make industrial real estate program, helping established and new local manufacturers find and lease industrial space in San Francisco. A licensed real estate agent (LIC #0189776) Noah is a 4th generation member of an industrial property management, leasing, and development family with deep roots and experience in real estate management in the Bay Area. Noah lives and works in San Francisco and understands both the challenges and exciting opportunities that are faced by manufacturers in the City. Noah’s intimate knowledge of zoning, the building and permitting process, and lease negotiation helps SFMade companies make the most of one of their most valuable assets, their space. Noah enjoys surfing, golfing, and working with creative minded people. Noah holds a bachelor’s degree in Religious Studies from San Diego State University.
Workforce and Youth Programming Intern
Genise works with Manufacturing Workforce and Hiring Manager Claire Michaels to support SFMade’s YouthMade Summer Internship program and school-based career exposure program Inside Manufacturing. She also works to strengthen relationships between SFMade and local workforce partners, and to increase engage SFMade members in the Hiring Made Better Program.
Prior to coming to SFMade, she worked with housing, community development and youth arts nonprofits, helping to build affordable housing, community facilities, organizational capacity and networks in Providence, Rhode Island. She holds a BA in Art from Swarthmore College and is currently pursuing a Master of City Planning degree at UC Berkeley, concentrating in housing, community and economic development.
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