SOURCE: City of San Jose, California

City of San Jose, California

February 25, 2011 16:10 ET

San Jose Names New Office of Economic Development Leadership

Seasoned Economic Development Experts Take Helm Driving Job, Revenue and Investment Growth

SAN JOSE, CA--(Marketwire - February 25, 2011) - San Jose City Manager Debra Figone today announced new leadership for the City's Office of Economic Development (OED). 

Effective immediately, Kim Walesh, chief strategist, City of San Jose, has been appointed director of OED. Nanci Klein, formerly an OED department division manager, will become deputy director. And, Jeff Ruster, executive director of work2future, the City's workforce development arm, will add a new title of director of strategic partnership development. Both Klein and Ruster will be part of Walesh's management team.

"Kim has been an extraordinary asset for San Jose. She has a strong track record of effective collaboration, both across departments and with our external partners," said Figone. "Her strong understanding of the City's challenges, a clear view of our opportunities, and effective working relationships with colleagues, civic leaders and external partners will advance the City's core Economic Development mission to grow jobs and revenue in San Jose," Figone said.

Walesh joined the City of San Jose in 2003 as assistant director, economic development to develop San Jose's first comprehensive economic strategy. Since then, she has served in positions of increasing responsibility, including assistant director of economic and cultural development and, in 2008, City's first-ever chief strategist. 

During this time, she led the team that created San Jose's aggressive Green Vision, developed new strategic partnerships to advance city goals in downtown revitalization, emerging industries, higher education, cultural development, city identity and business engagement.

In her new role, she will build upon her previous accomplishments, and lead OED and the citywide economic development team to catalyze job growth, revenue growth and private investment.

"I am delighted that Kim has agreed to serve as San Jose's economic development director. She brings a solid combination of private and public sector experience to the role, as well as expertise in understanding how Silicon Valley entrepreneurs and corporations work in a global, fast-paced economy. I look forward to her leadership as we continue to create an organization that can work at the speed of business and increase the number of jobs in San Jose," said San Jose Mayor Reed.

Prior to joining the City, Walesh was a global economic consultant at SRI International and co-founder/managing director of Collaborative Economics. While at SRI, she served in management and analytical roles in state and regional competitiveness projects in North America, Asia and Europe. Walesh also provided strategic guidance to government leaders in the transitioning economies of Slovenia and China. For Collaborative Economics, a consultancy advising civic entrepreneurs in metropolitan regions, she managed collaborations in more than 20 communities, including San Diego, Columbus, Richmond, Vir., as well as South Australia, while pioneering new public-private collaboration methodologies for measuring community progress.

Walesh is a board member of CEOs for Cities, a national network of urban leaders dedicated to creating next generation cities, and an associate of The Citistates Group, network of advisers committed to competitive, equitable, and sustainable 21st century metropolitan regions, and holds a bachelor of arts from Valparaiso University and a master of public policy from the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University. 

Renewed emphasis on heightening business and real estate development
Complementing Walesh's leadership role, Figone named Nanci Klein as OED deputy director and formally has recognized Jeff Ruster's dual roles by giving him the working title of director of strategic partnership development, and continuing his current role of director of work2future.

Serving as OED's deputy director, Klein will lead efforts focusing on business development and real estate, including high-level commercial real estate negotiations. 

Formerly, as division manager and head of OED's corporate outreach, she was responsible for cultivating and maintaining significant relationships with the world's top global companies that have a presence in San Jose and for some of City's most complex economic development projects and negotiations, such as the retention and expansion of eBay, NanoSolar, Cisco, SunPower, Hitachi and large-scale retail projects. In addition, she co-authored North San Jose Vision 2030, a 25-year urban planning realignment of North San Jose, the home of the world's top technology companies. 

In addition to former duties, she now will also oversee the City's Real Estate function, formerly a department in General Services, including the strategic management of the City's real estate portfolio.

"Nanci's leadership and contributions are critical to an effective business development program. By being responsive to the private sector, she has repeatedly demonstrated that San Jose understands companies' needs, while continuing to advance the City's Economic Strategy and important revenue-generation goals," Figone said.

Klein has also served as the economic development manager for the City of San Leandro, California, and a project manager for the San Jose Redevelopment Agency. She holds a bachelor of arts from the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, and masters of public administration from San Jose State University.

New focus on public-private partnerships
Across America, the role of the public sector continues to evolve. For San Jose, this means entering an era where partnerships are essential to delivering high-quality services and programming. To ensure San Jose is a national leader through innovations in this area, Jeff Ruster will be OED's director of strategic partnership development and serve as the City Manager's lead on new partnering relationships. 

"San Jose is entering an era where partnerships with other agencies and the private sector are essential to how the City operates and serves its businesses and residents. Jeff will be instrumental in forging new, significant relationships with entities that share the San Jose's vision in creating the next great American city," said Figone.

Depending on issues to be addressed, Ruster will be responsible for developing partnerships with philanthropic foundations, the business community, local and national nonprofits, university and research organizations and San Jose residents.

Prior to joining the City of San Jose, Ruster served as a lead community finance specialist at The World Bank where he worked in over 20 countries and provided policy, management and financial advisory services to client government officials and local private sector counterparts. He also served as deputy assistant secretary of economic development at the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. He also has held positions at Banco Nacional de México, Sumitomo Bank and has worked and lived in Mexico City.

Ruster holds a bachelor of arts in economics and political science from Stanford University and masters of business administration from the University of California, Los Angeles.

The City of San Jose's Office of Economic Development (OED), part of the San Jose Office of the City Manager, catalyzes job and revenue growth, assists business success, connects employers with trained workers, and enhances cultural amenities. For more information, please visit,

From its founding in 1777 as California's first city, San Jose has been a leader, driven by its spirit of innovation. Today, San Jose stands as the largest city in Northern California and the Capital of Silicon Valley -- the world's leading center of innovation. The city, the 10th largest in the U.S., is committed to remaining a top-ranked place to do business, to work and to live. For more information, visit,

Contact Information

    Tom Manheim
    City of San Jose
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    Steven Brewster
    San Jose Office of Economic Development
    Email Contact