Board of Directors




Laurie Rich, Executive Director
David Brower Center



David Shamszad
SG Real Estate



Lu Tipping, Business & Property Owner
Tipping Structural Engineers

Ingrid Chen, Owner
Ryan Call, Principal
ELS Architecture & Urban Design
Dell Dellinger, General Manager
Hotel Shattuck Plaza
Wendy Hillis, Campus Architect
University of California, Berkeley
Emily Marthinsen, Assistant Vice-Chancellor
University of California, Berkeley
Eric Knecht, COO
Resources for Community Development (RCD)

Laksh Lakireddy,
Everest Properties

Amir Massih,
President, Northern California
Terra Investments
 Josh Costello, Artistic Director
Aurora Theatre
Kathryn Collins, Partner
Harvest Properties
Amy Murray, Owner
Revival Bar & Kitchen

Wangmo Dixey,
Executive Director
Dharma College
Susan Muscarella, President
California Jazz Conservatory
Hae Won Rhow, Executive Director
Downtown Berkeley YMCA
Mark Rhodes, President
Rhodes Planning Group
Grant Shoaf, Vice President & Area Manager
Mechanics Bank
Adam Stemmler, Owner
Farm League Restaurant Group
Tai Yu, Co-Owner
Great China


John Caner, CEO

John has served as CEO of the Downtown Berkeley Association for over 10 years and currently serves on the boards of the International Downtown Association and California Downtown Association.  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 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 boards of the Berkeley Public Schools Fund and Berkeley Chamber of Commerce.  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.

Perty Grissett, Operations Manager

Perty Grissett has lived in and enjoyed the Bay Area for over 20 years and has made a remarkable impact everywhere he’s been.   As a programmer and technical support manager, Perty helped to grow a fledgling startup into the #1 web development firm in Silicon Valley.  While wearing many hats, he became intrigued with better methods of employee motivation.  Later, while making strides as a database administrator at a Big-4 Accounting firm, he completed a degree in Organizational Behavior at the University of San Francisco.

Eager to put the new skills to work, Perty shifted gears again and began leading teams of various sizes at a specialty retailer known for its strong customer-centric values.  Coaching a team of 14, he led an underperforming store to consistently win top spots corporately within his first 6 months.  Perty’s next challenging role was as the operator of a small San Francisco garment care shop.  Taking a failing business and returning it to profitability in just a few months, he spent the next several years providing a friendly place of employment and making strong ties within the neighborhood.

Perty is excited to have joined such a strong team at DBA and looks forward to help keep our downtown Spiffy!

Matthew Jervis, Director of Vitality

From punk rock to art direction, teaching, an experiential learning designer for Bay Area schools, an Maker Faire presenter and author. Matthew brings a unique combination of skills and experience to the DBA, including 10 years of creative marketing experience.

As the Director of Vitality, he is responsible for marketing, communications, public space activation, and stakeholder engagement.

Matthew has led creative strategy teams for the past 15 years and most recently spent 5 years teaching branding and creative strategy at the Academy of Art University. Matthew is also the author of How to Entertain, Distract, and Unplug Your Kids.

He's lived in Berkeley for 20 years where he has raised his son and daughter.