A Menlo Park resident and investment banking executive will take the reins of the Silicon Valley Leadership Group, a prominent advocacy group in the region, starting Aug. 10.
The group announced on July 23 that Ahmad Thomas, a Menlo Park resident, will succeed Carl Guardino as the group's CEO.
The Silicon Valley Leadership Group is a 43-year-old nonprofit business advocacy organization that represents the policy interests of 350 member companies and 26 sectors, according to its website. Guardino led it for 23 years.
Thomas will be the group's fourth CEO and its first African American CEO, according to a press statement.
He has been a director at Barclays Capital for 10 years, and worked for five years as a legislative assistant in the U.S. Senate, according to his LinkedIn profile.
"Our community has always had serious issues to tackle, but with unprecedented economic challenges brought on by a once-in-a-lifetime global pandemic and reckoning with systemic racism, we need to lead with industry-wide initiatives that drive both the national dialogue and bring about real, measurable change," he said in the press statement.
Thomas served as senior advisor for economics and business issues for U.S. Senator Dianne Feinstein. "Ahmad’s practical understanding of how businesses interact with the community will be invaluable as he carries on the work of Carl Guardino, who made transportation, housing and career development cornerstone issues for the (leadership group)," Feinstein said in the statement.
Thomas's priorities are to address housing, transportation and education challenges in the region. He also aims to focus on racial justice and equity, including expanding the diversity of the Silicon Valley workforce at all levels, especially on corporate boards and within executive lineups.
He plans to help member companies to "identify and hire more underrepresented minorities while also outlining concrete solutions to fund more Black-owned and Latinx-owned startups," the statement added.
Thomas "brings both the vision and the legislative and business experience needed to lead our team into a new decade of new challenges and opportunities," added Stephen Milligan, chair of the group's board of directors.
Thomas holds an MBA from the Wharton School of Business, a Master's Degree from the London School of Economics and a bachelor's degree from Cornell University. He also sits on the board of directors at HealthRIGHT 360 and volunteers as a startup advisor.
Thomas lives in Menlo Park with two sons and his wife, Dr. Reena Thomas, who is a practicing neurologist at Stanford Hospital and leads efforts to increase diversity in medical education at the Stanford University School of Medicine.