Kate Sofis, CEO of the manufacturing group SFMade, was appointed Friday by Mayor London Breed to serve as director of the Office of Economic and Workforce Development.
Sofis will lead the department at a time when OEWD is playing a key role in helping businesses survive the impacts of the pandemic through grants and technical assistance and as its range of workforce job training can help reduce the high unemployment rate.
“The programs and services that OEWD provides will play a critical role in our city’s economic recovery from COVID-19. Her longstanding commitment to economic development and experience supporting local San Francisco businesses, along with her demonstrated focus promoting equitable economic development, make her a perfect fit for this role,” Breed said in a statement.
Sofis said it was “a privilege and an honor to be asked to lead OEWD during this critical time for our community.”
In 2010, Sofis co-founded the manufacturing advocacy group SFMade.
“In the 10 years since our launch, SFMade has grown from a modest nonprofit working exclusively in San Francisco to a regional economic and workforce development powerhouse, with on-the-ground operations in San Francisco, San Jose and the East Bay serving over 730 manufactures,” Sofis wrote in a recent letter.
Sofis’ appointment is part of a City Hall shakeup caused by the City Hall corruption scandal beginning in January 2020 with the arrest of former Public Works head Mohammed Nuru, who was charged with fraud.
Breed appointed the previous OEWD head Joaquín Torres in February to serve as assessor-recorder when that post became vacant after she appointed then assessor-recorder Carmen Chu as city administrator.
Chu filled the city administrator vacancy created when Naomi Kelly resigned from the post in January after federal prosecutors charged her husband, former San Francisco Public Utilities Commission head Harlan Kelly, with fraud for allegedly accepting bribes from city contractor Walter Wong.
Torres praised Sofis as “an important leader and innovator in the local manufacturing community” for the past decade.
“Throughout, she has demonstrated a strong commitment to creating good-paying, blue collar jobs of the future, advancing local economic opportunities and celebrating the resilient character of San Francisco entrepreneurs,” Torres said in a statement.