Board of Directors



Amir Massih, President
Northern California
Terra Investments

Tai Yu, Co-Owner
Great China Restaurant

Eric Knecht, CFO
Resources for California Development (RCD)

Lu Tipping, Business & Property Owner
Tipping Structural Engineers

Sean Brooks, VP of Administrative Services
Berkeley City College

Albert Chan, Executive Director
Downtown Berkeley YMCA

Ingrid Chen,

Josh Costello,
Artistic Director
Aurora Theatre

Wangmo Dixey,
Executive Director
Dharma College
Dell Dellinger, General Manager
Hotel Shattuck Plaza
Wendy Hillis, Campus Architect
University of California, Berkeley

Laksh Lakireddy,
Vindium Real Estate



Amy Murray, Owner
Revival Bar & Kitchen

Susan Muscarella,
California Jazz Conservatory
Mark Rhoades, President
Rhodes Planning Group

Beth Roessner, CEO
Berkeley Chamber

Grant Shoaf, Vice President & Area Manager
Mechanics Bank

Adam Stemmler, Owner
Farm League Restaurant Group


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.

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 the DBA and looks forward to help keep our downtown spiffy and clean!

Matthew Jervis, Director of Vitality

From years in the music business to graphic design and art direction, to teaching undergrad courses in advertising, to experiential learning designer for Bay Area schools, to working as a Maker Faire presenter and book 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.

Matthew currently lives in San Francisco, but until recently lived in Berkeley for 20 years where he raised his son and daughter.