Alex is foremost a community advocate who brings new ideas and people together to make his community better.
Raised in Silicon Valley, Alex left for a dozen years for college at Vanderbilt University, work, and grad school at USC. A decade ago, he returned, to work on policy for Santa Clara County Supervisor Ken Yeager. He moved to The Alameda, where he has lived since.
A civic entrepreneur, Alex has since founded 3 successful San Jose community initiatives:
- the Rose Garden Farmers Market in 2018;
- naming a street after President Barack Obama in 2021; and
- the nonprofit organization Catalyze Silicon Valley in 2017
After serving 4 years as the Executive Director of Catalyze SV and 8 years as a City of San Jose Housing & Community Development Commissioner, Alex wants to bring his passion for public service, his commitment to the community, his policy ideas, and his entrepreneurial experience to District 6 and the San Jose City Council.
Alex with his parents Laurie & Stan
Alex’s full bio:
Alex’s parents were high school sweethearts at Saratoga High School. They raised their children in Santa Clara County after Alex’s father took a job at Kaiser Permanente in Santa Clara and his mother started a private practice in San Jose. Alex is the middle child between two brothers, Matt and Fordy. Alex attended the same high school as his parents, where he was class president his freshman year, student body president his senior year, speaker at his high school graduation, twice selected to be on his high school’s homecoming court, and captain of his cross country and track teams. After high school, he interned for Palo Alto-based Assemblymember Ted Lempert.
Alex left home in 1999 to venture out into the world for college at Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tennessee. While there, he was involved in three major campus activities: community service, politics, & the undergraduate admissions office. He gave tours of campus and ran the program where prospective students stayed overnight in dorms. When he arrived on campus, Alex helped revitalize the dormant Vanderbilt College Democrats as its president for two years running. He was also one of the founders of a multicultural campus newspaper called Orbis. As a freshman and sophomore, he interned in the national headquarters of Al Gore’s presidential campaign in Nashville. As a student, Alex participated in an alternative spring break program that sent him to do community service three years in a row:
- first on gun violence in Detroit;
- then on LGBTQ issues in Minneapolis; and
- finally on poverty as it affected African Americans in the Mississippi Delta.
Alex also volunteered for two and a half years mentoring inmates in a maximum security prison, as well as teaching English to Spanish-speaking immigrants. Alex spent one summer in college studying international politics and economics in London, and another interning in Washington, D.C., for the Sierra Club. He majored in political science and minored in Philosophy and African American Studies.
In 2003, Alex graduated and went back to Washington, D.C. to work in Congress on Capitol Hill. In 2004, he took a job as a field organizer on a US Senate campaign in Alaska.
In 2005, inspired by some similarities between the burgeoning LGBTQ movement and the Civil Rights Movement he had studied in college, Alex moved to New York City to work as a media strategist and community organizer for GLAAD. There, he provided support to LGBTQ and allied communities in 12 Southern states that faced constitutional amendments banning marriage equality, as well as hate crimes & prejudice against LGBTQ folks. Pivoting from grassroots organizing to communications, Alex spent an additional two years in New York as a communications strategist.
In 2009, sensing he needed more education for a continued career in public service, Alex received a scholarship from USC to obtain a master of public administration. After completing his MPA degree, Alex worked on California’s high-speed rail project before taking one of the most important steps in his career.
In 2012, Alex finally came back to the Bay Area for good when he accepted a job as a policy aide for pioneering Santa Clara County Supervisor Ken Yeager. During over three years in one of his best jobs ever, Alex covered a breadth of issues for Supervisor Yeager, including public safety, government operations, finance, energy, planning, land use, economic development, roads, airports, agriculture, environmental management, VTA, Caltrain & community engagement. While there, Alex also facilitated a 15-person workgroup that designed and delivered groundbreaking LGBTQ youth competency training to 850 County staff and community stakeholders working in the juvenile justice system.
Locally, Alex has also done work for the good urbanism nonprofit SPUR studying what other redeveloped train stations can teach San Jose about the future of Diridon Station and an organization serving youth involved in the juvenile justice system. As a member of VTA’s community engagement team from 2016-2019, Alex implemented an extensive community engagement process around VTA’s redesign of its transit system, as well as the extension of BART into San Jose.
Soon after moving back, Alex quickly began getting more involved in our community, first being selected as a fellow in the New Leaders Council Silicon Valley chapter in 2013. He has served on its advisory board since then to mentor and train young leaders on how to get good public policy passed.
Alex also joined the Board of the Shasta/Hanchett Park Neighborhood Association in 2014, with which he would later work closely as one of the founders of the Rose Garden Farmers Market that began operating at Lincoln High School in 2018. In 2023, he became a member of the San Jose Rotary Club.
Sensing the growing housing crisis, and facing a rent increase of 39% over a two-and-a-half-year period, Alex decided he needed to become more active on housing issues. So he applied for San Jose's Housing & Community Development Commission in 2015. He was appointed twice by the City Council and served until 2023, including multiple years as vice-chair and his final year as chair. On the commission, Alex regularly championed protections for renters, building more affordable housing, and transparent government spending focused on results.
Alex launched a second community-led effort when he proposed renaming a street in San Jose after our nation’s first black president, Barack Obama. After many years of building community and political support, this grassroots effort by community leaders was successful in 2021 in renaming parts of Bird Ave, Montgomery Ave, and Autumn, as Barack Obama Boulevard (coincidentally right here in District 6!).
A community advocate and entrepreneur, Alex co-founded a third effort to improve his community. In December 2016, four community leaders and Alex gathered in his living room to discuss the growing need for more community involvement in the development process. Meeting monthly, their ranks grew and they began forming a new nonprofit in 2017 to work on community development and community engagement. They named it Catalyze SV.
Alex has run Catalyze SV full-time as its Executive Director since July 2019. Alex has grown the organization from that living room to a staff of 4 and a budget of over a quarter of a million dollars.
Read more about Alex's accomplishments over the last decade here.
Meanwhile, as a volunteer in San Jose, Alex has:
- planted trees in District 6 through Our City Forest,
- given a presentation to young leaders in Silicon Valley for 10 years running called “Getting Good Policy Passed”
- mentored a Downtown Streets Team member,
- harvested fruit to be donated to Second Harvest Food Bank through Village Harvest,
- delivered hot meals to homeless folks at overnight shelters, and
- led cooking classes for affordable housing residents.
In his personal time, Alex loves spending time with friends old and new alike, making playlists on Spotify, watching the Warriors, cooking comfort food from different cultures, spending time with his family (including his nephew Lucca), and riding his bike or hiking nearby.
Alex's 6 favorite activities in all of San Jose are:
- Willow Glen lights in December
- San Jose Earthquakes games
- The Municipal Rose Garden
- San Jose Jazz’s Summer Fest
- Farmers Markets at Willow Glen Elementary & Lincoln High School
Since moving to San Jose a decade ago, Alex has always lived along The Alameda, at three different addresses within a four-block radius, returning back to his family’s roots on this storied street. Read more about Alex's family’s connection to San Jose and District 6.
Alex and his girlfriend Noëlle