Who has been shaping Oakland’s landscape? At Oakland Local, we’ve been honored to profile exceptional leaders in business, in politics, in technology, and in the arts. The following five stories give a peek into that coverage. (Check out other 2014 article highlights here.)

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Oakland artist Sarah Filley is creating a retail revolution
By Laura McCamy

In 2010, in the depths of the financial crisis, Oakland emerged as a center for innovative approaches to revitalizing local economies, not the least because of the work of Popuphood. Sarah Filley, along with Popuphood co-founder Alfonso Dominguez, created a new model for fostering independent retail and, in the process, helped revitalize Old Oakland.  Read more…

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Talking to Geoffrey Peete is hearing Oakland’s history in microcosm
By Liza Veale

Geoffrey Peete is the kind of public figure who is easily shrouded in mythology. He’s been described as a power broker, kingmaker and city boss—lofty titles he chalks up to “urban legends.” Through the 60’s, 70’s and 80’s, up to the present, Peete has kept his finger on Oakland’s pulse. Much more than a club owner, he’s an organizer and advocate in the African American business community. At times, a political insider and confidante, but also—most notably, during his face-off with OPD—a name no insider wants to drop. To understand Mr. Peete’s story is to understand a bit more the history of Oakland.  Read more…

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Profile: José Corona, Inner City Advisors
By Burt Dragin

José Corona’s funky workspace suits him fine. The cavernous building on Fourth Street in Oakland’s industrial downtown once functioned as mayoral campaign headquarters for Jerry Brown. It features a bar, a loft, some mismatched furniture, and the requisite conference room. Corona, CEO of Inner City Advisors (ICA), is a long way from his roots in the strawberry farms of Watsonville.

“Weekend, school vacations, it meant working on the farm,” Corona recalls.

But the CEO was blessed with a father of uncompromising entrepreneurial spirit. “We moved from Mexico to Southern California in the 1970s,” Corona recalled. “My father was part of the bracero program.” Translation: backbreaking work picking strawberries and other crops in the fields.  Read more…

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Pitch Mixer’s Ayori Selassie: Helping startups succeed in Oakland and the East Bay
By Max Gibson

Having been born and raised in West Oakland, it is safe to say that Ayori Se has developed a deep connection to her native city. Growing up as one of eight children, Ayori’s childhood taught her the value of hard work, and the reciprocity that comes with diligent effort. Introduced to the world of tech through a Basic Programming book her mother gave her when she was 11, Ayori devoured the book, and everything else she could get her hands on. HTML came next, followed by Visual Basic, Javascript and the rest. Developing an undeniable skill set, today Ayori works as a Product Manager for Salesforce. At the same time Ayori is also managing her current enterprise, Pitch Mixer, an entrepreneurial focused event series, aimed at connecting budding entrepreneurs with investors and positive resources. I spoke with Ayori about her upbringing, the value of creativity and her career.  Read more…

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Oaklandish CEO Angela Tsay sees community as the roots of good business
By Laura McCamy

“We realized there was a real hunger for people to find a way to express their Oakland pride,” says Angela Tsay, CEO and Creative Director of Oakland’s iconic t-shirt company, Oaklandish.

She is recalling the time in 2006 when she and Jeff Hull, who founded Oaklandish as a guerilla art project and designed the iconic tree and roots logo, had just started selling t-shirts at the Grand Lake Farmer’s Market. “What we really wanted to do was help support and instill a sense of civic pride in people living in Oakland,” she says.  Read more…

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