Mayor Breed Announces Leadership Transition at Office of Economic and Workforce Development

Sarah Dennis Phillips to become Executive Director of the Office of Economic and Workforce Development
May 31, 2023

San Francisco, CA – Today Mayor London Breed announced a leadership transition at the Office of Economic and Workforce Development (OEWD). Current OEWD Director Kate Sofis is leaving to pursue a new City job in economic development. Sarah Dennis Phillips, who previously worked at OEWD and has been in executive leadership at Tishman Speyer, is returning to the City to become the new Executive Director of OEWD.   

Kate Sofis has led OEWD for two years. She led the development of the Roadmap to Downtown San Francisco’s Future, a strategic plan that responds to San Francisco’s current economic context to advance a new vision for Downtown’s role in the City’s future. Her work centered around engaging broad stakeholders in economic recovery strategy, from small businesses and arts organizations to major business and tourism organizations.   

“Kate has spearheaded our work around revitalizing Downtown during one of our City’s most challenging times,” said Mayor London Breed. “We appreciate her commitment to this City and I know in this next chapter she will continue to be a champion for San Francisco and our recovery.”     

“The development of the Mayor’s Roadmap to Downtown’s Future has been central to our economic recovery and there is so much work ahead for us,” said Kate Sofis. “I’m excited about the opportunity to focus on continuing this work in a new position and to work to lift this City up in the years ahead.”   

Building on 14 years of prior civil service with the City and County of San Francisco, Sarah Dennis Phillips will leave her current leadership position with Tishman Speyer to become Executive Director of OEWD. Sarah will assume her new role on June 12th.    

A trained urban planner, Sarah began her California career in downtown revitalization, working to build thriving downtowns in Mountain View, Livermore, Redwood City, and other northern California cities. Sarah’s service to the City of San Francisco started in 2005, first in the Planning Department before moving to OEWD as Deputy Director of Development. In 2019, Sarah transitioned to the private sector, joining the San Francisco offices of Tishman Speyer, where she led development and placemaking efforts creating urban neighborhoods with high levels of affordability, public space, and transit.   

Sarah holds degrees in urban planning and design from the University of Virginia and Harvard University. She is a member of SPUR’s San Francisco Board of Directors, serves on the Urban Land Institute’s San Francisco Commercial Advisory Committee, and is a member of the San Francisco Chamber of Commerce, the Housing Action Coalition, and Lambda Alpha’s Golden Gate chapter.   

“I am thrilled to return to the City of San Francisco to help deliver Mayor Breed’s vision for an equitable economic recovery,” said Sarah Dennis Phillips. “While some of the changes San Francisco has seen post-pandemic are painful, they also present an opportunity to rebuild our local economy with intention and forethought, to repopulate our streets with arts and affordability, and to broaden the benefits of economic growth to all of our residents.”   

“Sarah’s unique combination of public and private sector leadership experience will help steer San Francisco’s economic recovery as we make Downtown a better neighborhood to work, visit, and live,” said Mayor Breed. “Sarah’s track record of collaboration will be necessary to implement our economic recovery, working with stakeholders ranging from community members to government officials, from San Francisco businesses to local nonprofits.”   

The Office of Economic and Workforce Development is responsible for supporting the economic vitality of San Francisco by promoting programs that attract and retain business, promote workforce development, maximize long-term public benefits in new development, strengthen small businesses, create international business opportunities in the City, and facilitate the revitalization of commercial corridors. This work is especially important as San Francisco recovers from the changing dynamics wrought by COVID-19, and rebuilds its economic position as a regional, national, and international business and visitor location.