Downtown Berkeley Association Hires New Executive Director

By Riya Bhattacharjee
Thursday November 12, 2009 - 09:30:00 AM

The Downtown Berkeley Association announced Tuesday that it had hired John Caner as their new executive director. 

Caner will replace current executive director Deborah Badhia Nov. 16, who will become the DBA’s new director of operations. 

A press release by the DBA said that Caner would “lead the organization through an exciting period of transition.”  

The DBA announced plans in September to develop a strategic blueprint that would revitalize the downtown, and perhaps convert the existing Business Improvement District into a new Property Based Business Improvement District. 

Caner, who was selected from a pool of 20 applicants, ran Rebuilding Together Oakland for three and a half years. 

According to the DBA, Caner, who has lived in Berkeley for 18 years, previously worked in the private sector as well as in non-profit management. 

“I look forward to working with a broad coalition of business, city, arts, retail, community and civic leaders in developing a more vibrant downtown—and building upon the many recent successes including the expansion of the Berkeley Rep, the moving of Freight and Salvage to downtown, the renovation of the Shattuck Hotel, and the opening of the new showcase Brower Center,” Caner said in a statement. 

Caner contributed to the presidential campaigns of John Kerry and Hillary Clinton, and lives on Derby Street with his partner George Beier, who ran against District 7 Councilmember Kriss Worthington in 2006. 

In his campaign statement in the Planet, Beier said he and Caner met in 1989. Beier and Caner started a software company with their savings in 1993. 

“We look forward to working with John and the rest of the DBA community in building a more vibrant and prosperous Downtown Berkeley,” said Michael Caplan, director of economic development with the City of Berkeley in a statement. “While these are trying economic times, I believe John has the energy, leadership, creativity, and community ties to help make this happen.” 

Caner has also worked at Berkeley-based Loansoft Inc., Nextel Communication and PacTel Cellular. He has served as a board member on several neighborhood associations and commissions and volunteered at Willard Middle School.