Barbara Bry grew up at a time when the role of women in business – any business – was
second to men. But she had a mother who rose above that to become a successful advertising executive and author.
“My mom is my most important role model. She made me believe in can succeed in the business world,” said Bry, who went even further, obtaining a master’s degree in business from Harvard University in 1976 – and becoming successful in her own right, as an entrepreneur, business founder and somewhat of a trailblazer for women. Among her credits: part of the founding tea m of Proflowers.com that pioneered high‐speed Internet access to hotels, CEO of blackbird Ventures, which invests in early stage technology; first associate director of CONNECT, the San Diego accelerator helping high tech startups; first editor of the non‐profit Voice of San Diego, and founder of Athena San Diego, the leading mentor for women in life sciences and technology.
Now, she wants to bring some of those same attributes as innovator and entrepreneur to the office of City Council, where she is running for the termed out seat of Sherri Lightner. Her opponent in the June 6 primary is Republican Ray Ellis. With only two candidates, the primary will decide the election.
Bry wants to bring the same innovative spirit she brought to everything in life to the office if elected, and that includes fostering San Diego’s stature as a hub for innovation.
“San Diego is one of the top four centers in the country in the life sciences industry with an economic impact of $3‐4 billion, according to several studies. Thousands are also employed in the life sciences indus try. “It’s clear that the innovation economy is driving the future of the city, of our region,” said Bry, 66, who lives in La Jolla and with husband Neil Senturia writes a regular column for the Union‐Tribune of
Salaries in the life sciences and high tech fields are also higher than other sectors. “We need these companies and industries to succeed. They will provide the jobs and allow us to keep San Diego clean
and prosperous,” she explained. “We need more high tech and biotech companies creating jobs for the future.”
However, what often happens, is that an outside company scoops up a homegrown one and moves it away from San Diego to be closer to its own headquarters.
“We need to continue to grow our own companies,” like QUALCOMM, and keep them here, added Bry, who as part of the U.S. Commerce Department’s National Advisory Council on Innovation and Entrepreneurship has made several policy recommendations on the national level to spur innovation.
As a region, “we need a coordinated effort to attract all kinds of international money, as well,” Bry added, calling for a coordinated effort by city, county and organizations like CONNECT and BIOCOM.
“That’s one of the reasons why I am running. I would be the first high tech entrepreneur on the City Council creating jobs for the future and for women,” Bry said. “I would bring credibility most elected officials cannot.” Other issues that concern her: Safety and safe streets. Referring to the San Diego Police Department, lifeguard and fire safety reserves, she said, “We have to be sure we have the best quality. That will be my first priority.” Streamlining business regulations to make them more palatable for small business is another priority. Many regulations conflict with each other and it takes too long to get approval for licenses and permits.
“What can be more transparent and what can be gotten rid of” would be among her priorities. Business is also affected by statewide regulations. “If we think they are hurting business unfairly, we need to be lobbying to change that,” she said.