Fall 2023 Fellow
Betty Yee was elected as California’s Controller in November 2014, following two terms of service on the California Board of Equalization, the nation’s only elected tax commission. Reelected for a second term as Controller in 2018 and earning the highest number of votes of any candidate on the ballot that year nationwide — over 8 million votes — Betty is only the tenth woman in California history to be elected to statewide office.
As chief fiscal officer of then the world’s fifth-largest economy, Betty chaired the Franchise Tax Board and served as a member of the California Public Employees’ Retirement System (CalPERS) and the California State Teachers’ Retirement System (CalSTRS) Boards. These two boards of the nation’s largest public pension funds reached a combined portfolio of more than $800 billion.
As chair of the State Lands Commission, she provided stewardship of public-trust lands, waterways, and marine resources through economic development, protection, preservation, and restoration consistent with the state’s environmental needs. In this capacity, Betty led the adoption of the Commission’s first-ever strategic plan, focusing on addressing sea-level rise and oil decommissioning, with a commitment to environmental justice and tribal consultation. She also spearheaded the shuttering of the last state oil platform in the Santa Barbara Channel.
A native of San Francisco, Betty has more than 35 years of experience in public service, specializing in state and local finance and tax policy. As Controller, Betty led an experienced, full-time team of public service professionals who are responsible for financial reporting, audits, and issuing more than 49 million payments annually to vendors, local governments, school districts, taxpayers, and state employees. Through the COVID-19 pandemic, Betty worked to streamline the State Controller’s Office manual processes and reimagine the agency as a workplace of the future.
Betty currently serves on the Board of Directors of: Ceres; Golden Gate University; the College Futures Foundation; and the Asian Pacific American Institute for Congressional Studies. She also volunteers for the California Democratic Party, serving as its Vice Chair.
Study Group: Good Governance: The Antidote to California’s Challenges
The late Congressman John Lewis often spoke fondly of Rosa Parks as his inspiration “…to find a way, to get in the way, to get in what I call good trouble, necessary trouble.” Just as Rosa Parks and John Lewis experienced so much around them that was not right, fair, or just, we live in troubled times today. With threats against our democracy, hyper-partisanship, growing economic and racial inequality, the already devastating effects of climate change, and more problems that have been addressed with ineffective political and policy solutions, getting into good governance offers hope for meeting our challenges while also sustaining and strengthening our democracy. Explore the elements of good governance and how they may be restored to meet this moment and beyond.
Wednesdays, 5-7 p.m. PT