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Center for
Social Innovation

Center for Social Innovation

Peter Ohtaki (MBA '87)

An interview with Peter Ohtaki (MBA '87)

Published: October 26, 2011

Affiliation:
GSB Alum
Areas of activity:
Government
What are your causes?

I was elected to the Menlo Park City Council last year. For my job, I am the executive director of the California Resiliency Alliance (CRA), a non-profit organization that brings businesses and government together to improve disaster response and recovery.

How do you contribute?

On the Menlo Park City Council, I have worked to balance the city's budget and find compromise on the city's downtown and El Camino Real development plan. As a result of my work with the CRA since 2005, the State of California and many Bay Area counties can now communicate directly with and request donations of goods and services from major companies around the state. For example, in 2007 we coordinated the donations of bottled water and food to evacuees of the Southern California wildfires.

What are important lessons you learned?

The importance and effectiveness of strategic relationships in building disaster response capabilities during difficult budget and economic times. In other words, the state can now harness and leverage the resources and expertise of the business community. On the city council, my financial background helped convince the city to paydown an unfunded pension liability that was costing the city 7.75% interest expense, thereby saving nearly $800k/year and balanced our budget, without cutting services.

What are your favorite social innovation resources?

The CRA built its website using social networking technology, Ning.com, so now over 200 emergency managers from business, government and non-profits are connected on the CRA's website. The potential of social networking and geo-mapping to substantially improve cross-sector coordination in disaster response is yet to be tapped.

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