Board of Directors

The Alliance Board

Board Member Affiliation
Michael Gunning
Co-Chairman
Vice President, Personal Insurance Federation of California
T.Y. Dennis Wong
Co-Chairman
Attorney at Law
James Nixon
Vice-Chairman
Chairman, Sustainable Systems, Inc.
Joseph Gross
Treasurer
President and CEO Sustainable Systems, Inc.
Elizabeth Ferguson Managing Director, Drexel Oceania LLC
Desmond Bell Senior Vice President Shared Services &
Chief Procurement Officer,
Pacific Gas and Electric Company


Michael Gunning

serves as the Vice President for the Personal Insurance Federation of California (PIFC). He represents PIFC’s member companies before the California State Legislature and the California Department of Insurance on personal lines insurance matters including auto, homeowners, community investment, finance and other issues. He has successfully passed and defeated legislation and regulations that were either helpful or harmful to the personal lines insurance industry. He maintains extensive relationships throughout California state government and the Legislature.
Mr. Gunning is a 30-year veteran of finance, investments, public policy and community development in California. He served as Managing Director for the Nehemiah Community Reinvestment Fund (NCRF) before joining PIFC. Mr. Gunning organized and facilitated over $24 million in NCRF investments throughout California. At the California Department of Insurance, Mr. Gunning served as Director of the California Organized Investment Network (COIN). In that capacity, he sought to match insurance industry investment capital with safe and sound investments for economic development and affordable housing in urban and rural areas throughout the state. Mr. Gunning has also served as a policy consultant for the California Legislature, Assembly Republican Office of Policy – for the Insurance and Banking committees and Senior Consultant for the Assembly Republican Caucus. He worked on a number of issues while working in the Legislature including the California Earthquake Authority, regulatory issues within the CDI, workers’ compensation reform, Proposition 103 and affordable automobile insurance. He also served as Vice President, California Public Finance Office of George K. Baum & Company, located in Sacramento, California. He was responsible for the development and structuring of financing transactions for local government clients. From 1985 to 1989, Mr. Gunning served as Executive Assistant to the Treasurer of the State of Missouri. He was very active in the Missouri Housing and Development Commission where he was involved in the issuance of over $200 million in housing bonds for the state. Mr. Gunning holds a BA in Political Science and History from Claremont McKenna College and an MA from Claremont Graduate School in Public Policy. He is also a Fellow, The Coro Foundation, St. Louis, Missouri. He was one of twelve selected through a nationwide process to participate in the Foundation’s Fellows program. This full-time, post-graduate program in public affairs is designed for individuals who have demonstrated potential for public leadership. Mr. Gunning has published in numerous business magazines and other publications in California. He also holds the 1999 Achievement Award from the Black Insurance Professional Association and serves as Chairman of the Black Republican Council, Sacramento Chapter. He is a speaker at numerous conferences on Community Development Finance. Mr. Gunning lives in Elk Grove with his wife, Kelly, and their daughters, Elon and Emma.
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T.Y. Dennis Wong

is an attorney based out of Oakland, California with over 25 years of experience in the fields of business, finance and law. Mr. Wong advises individuals and businesses in understanding and navigating through the legal and financial possibilities, and consequences of their choices and actions. His expertise is customizing legal and business structures that best meet his clients’ needs in their business and personal projects.
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James Nixon

is Co-Founder and Chair of the Board of Sustainable Systems, Inc., a business and economic development corporation, located in Oakland, CA, that provides market-based strategies for the achievement of sustainable development and smart growth. Sustainable Systems is also the Lead Consultant to the Bay Area Council for the Bay Area Family of Funds, a $200 million + Double Bottom Line Initiative.
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Joe Gross

is President and CEO of Sustainable Systems Inc, a for-profit double bottom line business and economic development corporation. Founded in 1993, Sustainable Systems specializes in investment initiatives whose funds generated upper quartile risk adjusted market rates of return to investors (first bottom line) while achieving economic vitality, sustainable community development and smart growth objectives (second bottom line).
In 2010, Mr. Gross assumed responsibility for a state-wide project – the GetConnected California Campaign. From 1996 to 2009, Mr. Gross co-founded and managed the Communications Technology Cluster (CTC), a business incubator and acceleration center. The average value of firms entering CTC grew from $100,000 to $1,342,500upon exit. Mr. Gross graduated with a B.S. degree from Howard University.
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Elizabeth Y.A. Ferguson

is Managing Director of Drexel Oceania, LLC, a private merchant bank based in San Francisco providing specialized advice to small and medium sized companies. Prior to her current position, Lyz was Executive Vice President and Managing Director of the Bay Area Family of Funds at the Bay Area Council. She managed private equity and venture capital funds. The Family of Funds are “double bottom line” funds created to deliver market rates of return, and at the same time, significant social, economic and environmental returns to low- and moderate- income communities. Lyz serves as a Board Member of the Alliance for Community Development, the Co-Founders of the Bay Area Equity Fund I. Prior to joining the Bay Area Council, Lyz was a financial executive with Bank of America for over twenty years and served as Managing Director and Head of Marketing for Bank of America?s Global Corporate and Investment Bank. Lyz graduated summa cum laude from U.C. Berkeley and has an MBA from Stanford Business School.
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Des Bell

In his current position, Mr. Bell is responsible for leading the utility’s supply chain, materials operations, supplier diversity, transportation services, corporate real estate, and environmental and land management work. Bell most recently served as Vice President and utility Chief of Staff. He has more than 28 years of experience in operations, ranging from customer service to engineering, manufacturing and supply chain management. He previously held several senior general management roles with Bombardier in Canada and Europe, including responsibility for service parts logistics, quality, business process transformation and Lean Six Sigma. Bell received his higher national diploma in aerospace engineering from the College of Technology in Belfast. He also earned a master’s degree in engineering business management from the University of Warwick in the United Kingdom and is a certified Lean Six Sigma Master Black Belt. He is a member of Supply Chain 50 and Conference Board Procurement Executive Committee; serves on the Board of the Alliance for Community Development and is Chair of the Electric Utility Industry Sustainable Supply Chain Alliance.
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