Today, the City of Oakland announced the appointment of Cristy Johnston Limón as the City’s new Deputy Director/Business Development Manager in the Department of Economic and Workforce Development. In this role, Cristy will lead the City team managing business recruitment and retention efforts, small business support initiatives, business improvement district programs, and the City’s ongoing economic recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic.
Cristy brings to this role more 20 years’ experience in commercial corridor revitalization, nonprofit leadership, and organization capacity building, as well as a deep knowledge of Oakland and its communities.
“Cristy is the ideal manager to join our team at this time, given her deep understanding of and passion for Oakland’s commercial districts and business community,” said Sofia Navarro, Interim Director of the Economic & Workforce Development Department. “Her broad ranging experience in economic development, creative placemaking, and organizational development will help us further our goals for equitable economic growth and recovery in Oakland.”
Cristy led two of the Bay Area’s most beloved arts and cultural organizations, developing the organizational infrastructure and leadership to ensure their long-term stability. As Executive Director of Youth Speaks, the nation’s leading spoken word and poetry organization, Cristy succeeded the founder, shifted the organizational culture, strengthened its financial position, then completed a model $2M capital project to build out Youth Speaks permanently affordable space within a newly constructed 127-unit affordable housing development. Leveraging her background in community and economic development, Cristy secured and built out a permanent home for Oakland’s Destiny Arts Center, a cultural and community hub that revitalized the surrounding neighborhood and ignited businesses, civic leaders and funders to invest in Oakland’s arts and culture.
More recently, she served as Executive Director at the Haas School of Business’ Center for Social Sector Leadership, which trains students across the UC Berkeley campus to advance social change through entrepreneurship, impact consulting, and nonprofit board service.
Cristy was also the founding Executive Director of Excelsior Action Group in San Francisco, where she piloted a commercial corridor revitalization initiative. That initiative became the city-wide Invest in Neighborhoods program, operationalizing successful business recruitment and retention efforts, support services for small businesses, creation of community benefit districts, and advocacy efforts aimed at strengthening more than 30 vital business districts. Previously she led economic development efforts for the Bernal Heights Neighborhood Association in San Francisco.
Cristy earned her MBA from the Berkeley Haas School of Business and a BA in Political Science also from U.C. Berkeley. She is the recipient of the Center for Equity, Gender, and Leadership (EGAL) Equity Fluent Leadership Award, Community Vision’s Community Builder Award (2015), the Young Nonprofit Leaders’ Executive Director of the Year Award, and LISC’s National Community Development Leadership Award. She currently serves on the Board of Directors for organizations that focus on education, theater arts, economic development. and climate justice including the American Conservatory Theater, Bandaloop, and Frontline Catalysts.