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Localwise is excited to introduce you to the 2016 Work Local Awards judges. They represent an incredible group of community leaders with a breadth of experience in the local business and economic development space.

We received over 1,000 nominations and narrowed it down to the top 3 local business finalists in each category. Now we're handing the nominations over to the judges to determine the best local employers in the Bay Area.

Winners will be announced at the Work Local Awards Celebration Party on April 28th at The Port.

Check out a bit about each of our amazing judges:


Lena Robinson, Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco

Lena Robinson is a regional manager in community development at the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco. In this capacity she works to increase investments and improve access to capital, credit and banking services for low-income communities and households in compliance with the Community Reinvestment Act. Prior to joining the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco, Lena managed the housing program for international students at UC Davis Extension. She holds a Master’s in international studies from Ohio University and a Bachelor’s in Japanese studies from the Monterey Institute of International Studies.


Rich Butts, First Republic Bank

Rich Butts has over a decade of banking experience specializing in small business lending and deposit services. He has worked at both Bank of Hawaii on the island of Oahu, and currently as the District Manager of the East Bay for First Republic Bank, both of which continue to be recognized with national awards for safety and security. Prior to his banking career, he spent ten years working in the family construction company, building projects such as school libraries and gymnasiums. Currently, as one of a handful of owners of the Lanikai Brewing Company, based in Kailua Oahu in the Hawaiian Islands, he continues the entrepreneurial spirit even 2,500 miles away.

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Christina Mitchell, Christina Mitch

Christina Mitchell works with local business owners who want more exposure, helping them use social media, blogging and email marketing to get tons of loyal fans and engaged followers. Her clients see immediate improvements in their social media engagement, which translates to more brand awareness, more customers and a stronger local economy for all of us! She's a food lover and has over 5 years experience writing and sharing experiences through her blog, East Bay Dish. When she's not blogging and connecting with people online, you can find her hiking, salsa dancing or at the nearest happy hour.

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Jonny Price, Kiva Zip

Jonny Price is the Senior Director of the Kiva Zip program, which administers 0% interest, crowdfunded microloans to entrepreneurs, artisans and farmers in the United States and Kenya. Jonny has led the Kiva Zip program from its inception in late 2011, and overseen its growth over the last four years. Jonny started his career in strategy consulting with Oliver Wyman. He focused on the retail, CPG and aviation industries, working out of the firm’s London and Paris and San Francisco offices. Jonny has a BA in History from the University of Cambridge.


Jen Leybovich, Main Street Launch

Jen’s role at Main Street Launch includes fundraising, partnerships, impact assessment, and organizational development and strategy. Jen holds a B.A. in Business Economics and minors in Accounting and Political Science from University of California, Los Angeles, and completed her M.B.A. at Yale School of Management, where she focused on economic development & social enterprise and was a fellow at Nonprofit Finance Fund in the Lending Division. Outside of work, Jen’s interests include traveling and checking out events and outdoor activities around the SF Bay Area.


Mary Jo Cook, Pacific Community Ventures

Mary Jo Cook is a mission-driven leader who’s passionate about using business as a force for good.  Mary Jo is currently the President and CEO of Pacific Community Ventures, a San Francisco-based social enterprise which engages small businesses, investors and policymakers to build an economy that works for everyone.  Prior to joining Pacific Community Ventures, Mary Jo spent five years as the Chief Impact Officer at Fair Trade USA and was a Vice President at the Clorox Company where she held senior management roles in Innovation, Sustainability, Strategy and Marketing.  Mary Jo holds a bachelor’s degree from the University of Illinois and an M.B.A. from the University of Chicago.


Brian McKeown, Kiva Zip

Brian McKeown is a small business development specialist, long-time food and alternative energy entrepreneur, micro financier and a two decade long economic and social justice advocate in the San Francisco Bay Area. Brian graduated with a B.S. in Entrepreneurship and Small Business Management from San Francisco State University in 2001 and he has a Certificate in Micro-finance Executive Management from the Grameen Bank, Dhaka, Bangladesh 2008. Brian has spent 20 years in the hospitality industry as a food vendor, music promoter and nightclub owner. Brian is the Oakland lead for Kiva a non-profit Crowdfunding platform.

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