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Alameda County, CA November 4, 2014 Election
Smart Voter Full Biography for Mike Alvarez Cohen

Candidate for
Council Member; City of Berkeley; Council District 8

This information is provided by the candidate

Mike's bio webpage

The best city council teams have a variety of skills. I have skill set that is unique to our council. My expertise will help our council sustain what's wonderful about our community, and solve what's problematic with our city. I have a track record of award-winning achievements, and that's why our retiring District 8 city council member, Gordon Wozniak endorses me.


  • My wife, Lisa, and I have been living together in Berkeley for more than 20 years - in two different parts of the city.
  • In addition to my long-time residency, I've also been working in Downtown Berkeley for more than 10 years.
  • My two children, Jason and Ryan, have been attending the local schools (Malcolm X Elementary School, Willard Middle School, and Berkeley High School) - in fact, I was a PTA president and SITE co-chair at Malcolm X Elementary School.
  • Our kids are active in local youth sports programs that use our parks and recreation facilities.
  • I've been on Berkeley's Zoning Adjustments Board since 2006, and I was unanimously elected as the Chairperson in 2013 and 2014.
  • I've been a member of the Board of Directors for the Claremont Elmwood Neighborhood Association since 2004.
  • I've been on the steering committee of the East Bay Green Corridor since its inception in 2007.
  • I've been an applicant interviewer for the Berkeley Community Fund since 2012.
  • I'm a strong believer in equality, and accordingly, my wife (Prof. Lisa Alvarez-Cohen) and I share our family responsibilities (AKA 50 50 relationship).
  • I've learned about leading local governments across the US through my involvement with the online civic engagement company that I co-founded and its partnership with the Alliance for Innovation.
  • We've owned a Prius since 2005. In 2013, we bought a plug-in hybrid Ford Fusion. We have solar panels on our roof.
  • We are lifetime members of the Sierra Club.

  • Entrepreneurship: I started 2 tech-based companies (Peak Democracy Inc and Netpulse Inc), and 3 public-private partnerships (Berkeley Startup Cluster, QB3 East Bay Innovation Center, and Skydeck | Berkeley).
  • Technology: I know a great deal about information technology including hardware, software and services + especially in the Gov 2.0 sector. In fact, I'm on the Advisory Board for the UC Berkeley Data and Democracy Initiative.
  • Finance & Budgeting: I have a finance background (including an MBA from Harvard along with a BSE from Tufts), and I was an invited speaker at the 2013 and 2014 Center for Priority Based Budgeting conferences, and also for the Government Finance Officers Association. I've managed large budgets, and modeled complex organizations, as well as authored and negotiated many contractual agreements.
  • Economic Development: I'm a leader in leveraging a university's innovations to drive local economic vitality. Check-out my work bio, this SF Business Times article, and this Jan 2014 economic development report.

  • In 2013 and 2014 I have been a conference speaker and/or journal author for the Alliance for Innovation (, the International Association of City/County Managers, the Center for Priority Based Budgeting, and the Government Finance Officers Association.
  • In 2012 I received the UC Berkeley Chancellor's Outstanding Staff Award for "excellence and exceptional initiative" in bringing the University's innovations to market for the public benefit, and growing resources for Berkeley entrepreneurs.
  • In 2011 I conceived, co-championed, and ramped-up Skydeck | Berkeley, an award winning, startup company accelerator located in Downtown Berkeley.
  • In 2010 I co-founded the QB3 East Bay Innovation Center, a privately funded biotech incubator for startups located in West Berkeley's biotech corridor with Emeryville. This center operates under an innovative model of private funding and University of California marketing.
  • In 2009 I co-founded and became a member of the steering team for the Berkeley Startup Cluster, a collaboration between the Berkeley government, the University and the private sector, that has ushered in over 100 startups to Downtown Berkeley and West Berkeley. I Chair and co-recruited the Advisory Group for the Berkeley Startup Cluster.
  • In 2007 I co-founded and became a board member of Peak Democracy Inc, an internet company whose mission is using online civic engagement to increase public trust in government.
  • In 2005 I led a neighborhood initiative to bring traffic calming devices to my street.

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Created from information supplied by the candidate: October 16, 2014 09:19
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