Board of Directors



Amir Massih, President
Terra Investments

Tai Yu, Co-Owner
Great China Restaurant

Grant Shoaf, Vice President & Area Manager
Mechanics Bank

Beth Roessner, CEO
Berkeley Chamber

Albert Chan, Executive Director
Downtown Berkeley YMCA

Josh Costello, Artistic Director
Aurora Theatre

Wangmo Dixey, Executive Director
Dharma College

Calleene Eagan, CEO
Insight Housing

Yoshika Hedberg, Owner
Fish & Bird Sousaku Izakaya

Wendy Hillis, Campus Architect
University of California, Berkeley

Laksh Lakireddy, President
Vindium Real Estate

David Masenten, Principal
ELS Architecture & Urban Design

Amy Murray, Owner
Revival Bar & Kitchen

Tom Parrish, Managing Director
Berkeley Repertory Theatre

Mark Rhoades, President
Rhodes Planning Group

David Shamszad, CEO
SG Real Estate

Maria Schell Hassid, Executive Director
David Brower Center

Adam Stemmler, Owner
Farm League Restaurant Group

Jordan Stephens, General Manager
Residence Inn Berkeley

Nigel Sussman, Illustrator & Muralist
Nigel Sussman Illustration


John Caner, CEO

John has served as CEO of the Downtown Berkeley Association for over 14 years and currently serves on the boards of the International Downtown Association and California Downtown Association (CDA) and chairs homeless and mental health policy committees for the CDA and International Downtown Association (IDA).  John brings over 35 years of business, non-profit, and community development experience to the DBA, including strategic planning, new business development, marketing, finance, project management, and general management. Before coming to the DBA, John served as Executive Director of Rebuilding Together Oakland where he significantly expanded programs and funding, serving low-income seniors and non-profit community facilities. Before entering the nonprofit world, he served in many management and strategy positions in the private sector, including Berkeley-based Loansoft and Nextel Communications. And during the thirty years, he has lived in Berkeley, he has served on the boards Berkeley Public Schools Fund, Berkeley Alliance, Berkeley Partners for Parks, Aurora Theatre, Willard Neighborhood Association, City of Berkeley Disaster and Fire Safety Commission; and served on fundraising committees for the South Branch Library and Berkeley City College.  John currently serves on the board of the Berkeley Chamber.  John has a long-time interest in education, having served as a volunteer teacher's assistant at Willard Middle School, a volunteer instructor with the Presidential Classroom, and entrepreneurship mentor with John earned an M.B.A. from UCLA and an undergraduate degree in Government from Harvard.

Javier Suazo, Operations Manager

Born in Honduras and raised on the East Coast, Javier moved to California after graduating from Pace University in New York City with a degree in Political Science. Since his move to San Francisco in 2000, Javier has worn many hats professionally, and worked closely within the public sector.

Javier’s experience includes serving as a Child Support Officer in San Francisco; bartending; recruiting for AfterCollege, Inc.; supervising local operations for the 2020 US Census; Shift Supervisor with StreetPlus at Downtown SF Partnership supporting the Operations Manager and serving as Public Spaces Manager for Downtown SF Partnership, overseeing the day-to-day logistical operations. Javier was part of the original startup crew at Downtown SF Partnership.

Over the years, Javier has volunteered numerous hours to several organizations and charities. He enjoys learning the history of his surroundings and appreciates the opportunity to meet people from all walks of life.

As the Operations Manager assigned to the Downtown Berkeley Association account, Javier will be responsible for all aspects of the program, ensuring Streetplus employees are exceeding customer expectations and the downtown is clean, safe, and friendly for those that live, work and visit downtown Berkeley.


Matthew Jervis, Director of Vitality

As a seasoned creative professional with over a decade of experience in the music industry, graphic design, and art direction, Matthew has continually expanded his skill set. In addition to these creative endeavors, Matthew has shared his knowledge as an instructor, teaching undergraduate and graduate courses in advertising and serving as an experiential learning designer for Bay Area schools.

In recognition of his experience and commitment, Matthew was selected to join the International Downtown Association’s 2019 cohort of the Emerging Leadership Fellowship program held annually in New York.

As the Director of Vitality for the DBA, Matthew assumes responsibility for a broad spectrum of critical functions, including marketing, communications, public space activation, and stakeholder engagement.

With a career spanning 15 years, he has led creative strategy teams and recently spent five years as an advertising and creative strategy instructor at the Academy of Art University. Matthew's instructional experience extends to the realm of parenthood, where he has raised his son and daughter during his two-decade residence in Berkeley, California. Though he now calls San Francisco home, his heart remains intertwined with the Bay Area's vibrant and creative community.

Matthew Jervis is also the accomplished author of "How to Entertain, Distract, and Unplug Your Kids," a testament to his ability to translate creative ingenuity and gamification into practical solutions for everyday life.