John Caner

The Downtown Berkeley Association (DBA) has hired John Caner as its new executive director. The DBA launched its search for a new leader in September when it adopted a new strategic plan. Deborah Badhia, the current executive director, will become director of operations.

Caner was one of over 50 applicants for the post. An 18-year resident of Berkeley, he has been executive director of Rebuilding Together Oakland, where he expanded programs and funding, serving low-income seniors and non-profit community facilities. Before entering the nonprofit world, Caner served in a number of management and strategy positions in the private sector. He has been a long time board member of Berkeley Partners for Parks and the Willard Neighborhood Association. He recently served on the City of Berkeley Pools Master Plan Task Force, and currently serves as a commissioner on the City of Berkeley Disaster and Fire Safety Commission, and the Fair Campaign Practices Commission.

According to Fran Gallati, interim board president of the DBA, “We consistently heard from John and his past colleagues how he is a creative strategic leader and brings a collaborative approach to solving old problems and developing new opportunities.”

The DBA’s new three-year strategic plan represents a change of direction and expansion of the 20-year old organization to realize a more attractive and economically prosperous downtown for the extended Berkeley community. In addition to a more robust advocacy and marketing strategy, the DBA will address the retail vitality, cleanliness, and safety of downtown Berkeley by providing new services that will augment and not replace the city’s baseline services.

Lance Knobel

Lance Knobel (co-founder) has been a journalist for nearly 40 years. Much of his career was in business journalism. He was editor-in-chief of both Management Today, the leading business magazine in Britain,...

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  1. I wish John and the DBA well. The challenges remain large and the economic situation does not lend a hand to either the DBA or to the merchants and business people of the Downtown. To those that chant that the problems are insurmountable, I would say “Problems are created by people and therefore can be solved by people.” I would ask that all who are to be involved put prior differences aside and form a collaborative effort to bring Downtown Berkeley to the stature it is so deserving of. Good Luck John. Your success will be a success for all of us.

  2. John Caner is smart, energetic and well connected. Let’s hope the City Council soon reaches an agreement to resolve the Downtown Plan stalemate so that he is able to get real traction on improving downtown.

  3. The only way to save downtown Berkeley is to pray for the next big earthquake to level the entire area down so irfan start anew. Add some new bussinesses to attract the local student population rather then apeasing the dying and irrelevent leftover hippy population with arbitary zoning.