PPIC welcomes two distinguished Californians to our board of directors today. Each has made a unique contribution to public life. Together they bring a wealth of leadership experience, a rich knowledge of the forces shaping our state, and a strong record of public service. They will be invaluable assets to PPIC as we work to shape a better future for California.
Ophelia Basgal is currently a consultant at the Terner Center for Housing Innovation at University of California, Berkeley, and a senior executive consultant for InclusionINC, a diversity and inclusion consulting firm. From May 2010 to March 2016, she served as the Region IX Regional Administrator for the Department of Housing Urban Development. Prior to this position, she was the vice president for community relations at PG&E from 2005–2010, where she managed the company’s $20 million charitable contributions program and oversaw the community engagement programs, partnerships with community-based organizations, and employee volunteerism program for 20,000 employees. She was executive director of the Alameda County and Dublin Housing Authorities from 1978–2005.
Basgal is chair of the board of trustees of the San Francisco Foundation and serves on the board of Mills College and the Alameda County California Employees’ Retirement Association. She is also on the advisory board of the UC Berkeley Goldman School of Public Policy. She is a former member of the PPIC Statewide Leadership Council. She holds a BA with distinction from Arizona State University and an MSW with a specialty in administration from the University of California, Berkeley.
Steven J. Olson is a partner at O’Melveny & Myers LLP, where he serves as firm-wide co-chair of the white collar defense and corporate investigations practice. He also serves on the firm’s management committee. As a former federal prosecutor at the US Attorney’s Office in Los Angeles, he represents companies, boards of directors, and executives in criminal and civil matters against government enforcement agencies. He also advises companies and boards of directors in connection with complex and sensitive internal investigations. He has been recognized by legal directories Chambers USA and Legal 500 as among the leading attorneys in the nation for white collar crime and investigations. In addition to white collar matters, he represents clients in general corporate litigation and regulatory issues. From 2011 to 2013, he served as deputy chief of staff and senior advisor to the US commerce secretary. During that time, he helped launch SelectUSA, the federal program to attract increased investment in the United States by international businesses.
Olson is a trustee of Occidental College, chair of the World Trade Center Los Angeles and its annual international investment conference Select LA, and a board member for Rose Bowl Legacy. He is a former member of the PPIC Statewide Leadership Council. The Los Angeles Business Journal has repeatedly named him among the most influential people in Los Angeles. He earned his JD from the University of Michigan and his BA from Stanford University.
The chair of the PPIC board is Steven A. Merksamer, of counsel, Nielsen Merksamer Parrinello Gross & Leoni LLP. The other members of the board are myself; Louise Henry Bryson, chair emerita, Board of Trustees, J. Paul Getty Trust; A. Marisa Chun, judge, Superior Court of California, County of San Francisco; Chet Hewitt, president and CEO, Sierra Health Foundation; Phil Isenberg, former chair, Delta Stewardship Council; Mas Masumoto, author and farmer; Leon E. Panetta, chairman, The Panetta Institute for Public Policy; Gerald L. Parsky, chairman, Aurora Capital Group; Kim Polese, Chairman and Co-founder, CrowdSmart; Cassandra Walker Pye, executive vice president and chief strategy officer, Lucas Public Affairs; Helen Iris Torres, CEO, Hispanas Organized for Political Equality; Gaddi H. Vasquez, retired senior vice president, government affairs, Edison International, Southern California Edison.
I want to thank these dedicated Californians for their commitment to PPIC and to improving the well-being of our state’s people, communities, and environment.