Executive Director

Susana is the Executive Director for the Sustainable Business Alliance. She has called Oakland home for the great majority of her life. Her background is on community health and community economic development and she marries the two fields in everything she does. She believes that healthy communities are those that have good small businesses thriving, have good local jobs, access to goods and services in the neighborhood, good schools, libraries, and open space we can all play and run around!

She comes from a family of entrepreneurs and business owners and is no surprise that she is a business owner too. She has over 15 years of experience in community work. She is a participatory evaluation believer. A collective impact advocate (if done well). A research geek who loves to think critically about qualitative and quantitative data and finally and most important a proud Oaklander.

She holds bachelors degrees on Anthropology and Psychology from Cal and a masters in Gerontology (yes, gerontology) from San Francisco State.


Board Directors

Erin is passionate about supporting local independent businesses and artists since these groups greatly improve the economic health and quality of life of our communities. To that end, she is our prior Executive Director and recently worked at One PacificCoast Foundation on small business development and community development, co-founded Oakland Grown, Oakland Unwrapped! and the Oakland Indie Awards, and serves on the board of directors for the American Independent Business Alliance (AMIBA).
Erin is a BALLE New Economy Fellow, and a graduate of MIT’s Master of City Planning program, where she worked with several community development and economic development corporations and developed neighborhood revitalization plans, performed neighborhood economic analyses, and conducted research on various community economic development topics.

Before MIT, Erin spent several years working in technology training, instructional design and graphic design, most recently as a Manager of Web Information Design at Oracle Corporation. There, she managed a team responsible for developing technology training for Oracle’s sales force. She also worked in Oracle’s Media Training Solutions group as a Project Manager. Prior to Oracle, Erin was a Software Trainer with New Horizons Computer Learning Centers and an Instructional and Graphic Designer with Educational Management Group in Scottsdale, AZ

She received her masters in Sustainability and Environmental Management from Harvard University and has been working with businesses, schools and non-profits over the last 10 years to actualize her vision for making our communities better places to live now and for future generations.

Her roles have spanned from sponsorships and brand marketing for the financial services industry to founding a non-profit for children affected by the AIDS epidemic in Tanzania. She recently published a manuscript entitled, Working Toward Peace: A Holistic Approach to Addressing Youth Violence by Pleasant Hill Baptist Church, that discussed the role of faith based organizations in mitigating risk for youth in Boston, MA.

When she’s not trying to save the world, you can find her playing with her yappy, yet beloved dog, Lila, exploring the latest and greatest eateries and watering holes about town or online at www.linkedin.com/joannl

Leslie is the Director of Community Engagement for BALLE (the Business Alliance for Local Living Economies). Leslie has focused the majority of her professional career towards solutions that mitigate the negative impact of the built environment on social networks and the integrity of natural systems.  She became the first Certified Sustainable Building Advisor in the state of Arizona and co-founded Ikoloji Sustainability Collaborative to advance a sustainable society through education and economic development.  After 5 years of training industry professionals in sustainability strategies, Leslie shifted her attention towards work that yields broader community impact.

Leslie has been dedicated to community engagement through service on boards for several nonprofit organizations, charrette facilitation for neighborhood associations and government agencies, and speaking engagements at industry conferences.  Her efforts have earned honors from groups such as the Rob and Melani Walton ASU Sustainability Solutions Initiative and the Phoenix Business Journal.

Tom is on the Board of Directors for Oakland Grown. He currently holds a position as the Director of Client Accounting Services and CFO Advisory at DZH Phillips LLP. His background is in accounting and computer science. He founded the company Bravosoft, the developer and publisher of the Bravo Accounting and Business Processing Software. Tom has also lectured at both Mills College and Presidio Graduate School.

In his spare time Tom likes to try and better his community as well as playing tennis at the Sleepy Hollow Swim and Tennis Club.