Barclays Capital executive Ahmad Thomas is the new CEO of the powerful Silicon Valley Leadership Group, becoming the fourth person to lead the 43-year-old organization and its first African-American CEO.
“As the economic capital of California, Silicon Valley is looked to as a leader in economic growth, innovation, public policy and now, more than ever social issues,” Thomas said in a statement. “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.”
Thomas will take the reins on Aug. 10. He succeeds Carl Guardino, who announced in January that he was leaving SVLG after 23 years. Guardino revealed last month that he’s accepted a position as the executive vice president of global government affairs and policy at Bloom Energy.
“Running track in school, we learned how to successfully pass the baton on to the next runner,” Guardino said in a statement. “After nearly 24 years, I am excited to pass the baton of leadership to someone I have known and respected for 16 years, whose collaboration, courage and creativity will well-serve our 340 member companies, our employees and the communities in which we live and conduct business.”
Prior to joining SVLG, Thomas worked as an investment banker for Barclays, where he gained experience leading the firm’s California and Silicon Valley regional municipal banking teams as well as other social impact projects.
Thomas also worked as a senior aide to U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein, where he was responsible for tax, financial services, critical infrastructure, federal budget and labor issues. During his time with Feinstein, he helped develop five bills that were signed into law, and began working with SVLG on tax and economic issues.
“Ahmad showed a keen understanding of complex subjects, insight that has only grown over the years,” Feinstein said in a statement. “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 SVLG.”
Thomas’s priorities for his new role at SVLG include partnering with community college programs that channel two-year degree candidates into technology jobs and using investments from member companies to bolster affordable housing, renewable energy and social impact infrastructure projects. He also advocates for more racial equity in Silicon Valley by helping member companies hire more minority candidates and funding more Black- and Latinx-owned startups.
Thomas is a California native who resides in Menlo Park with his wife, Reena Thomas, and their two sons.
Contact Stella Lorence at [email protected] or follow on Twitter @slorence3.