A Conversation With Daniel Blake

How long have you been volunteering in the community?

I moved to the Valley in 1971 as an Economics Professor at California State University, Northridge (CSUN), then at San Fernando Valley State College, and began volunteering 5 years later as Co-Director of CSUN’s Center for Economic Research and Education. We helped Valley teachers introduce economic education modules in their classrooms through workshops, conference presentations, and individual assistance. When a semester of high school economics became a graduation requirement, we conducted workshops for Valley teachers that would help them impart both economic understanding and practical economic skills to their students. I also made presentations to various community and professional groups such as Chambers of Commerce, Kiwanis Club, business retreats, and teachers’ conventions on current economic topics.

During the 8 years (2001-2009) that I directed the CSUN San Fernando Valley Economic Research Center (SFVERC), I presented the results of our San Fernando Valley Economic Report and our CSUN San Fernando Valley Economic Forecast to various community and professional groups. I also helped the U.S. Census Department set up statistical areas in the Valley for their annual American Community Survey so that we could obtain statistical profiles of our Valley communities annually and included those community demographic profiles in our economic reports and forecasts.

I served on the Board and as Board President of Chatsworth Hills Academy Charter School (K-6) from 1989 to 1992, on the California Employment Development Department’s Labor Market Information Advisory Group from 1999 to 2009, and on the Board of CSUN-affiliated CHIME Charter School (K-8) in Woodland Hills from 2009 to 2012.

In 2016, I received the CSUN Dean Ed Peckham Award, also known as the Emeriti Merit Award for Volunteering and Loyalty for these efforts and other work.

How long have you been volunteering for The Valley Economic Alliance?

I was invited to join the Board of The Valley Economic Alliance (TVEA) after making a presentation on the San Fernando Valley economy in 2001 and have participated ever since. I continue to serve as Co-Chair of the Economic Development Initiative.

TVEA was a heavily involved sponsor in the early years of the SFV Economic Report Conferences (SFVERC) and the SFV Economic Forecast Conferences, but that relationship evolved to joint SFVERC and TVEA conferences over time. In addition, I have presented to and served on TVEA’s Education and Workforce Initiative and served on a joint TVEA/SFV Council of Governments taskforce to coordinate local workforce training needs with local employers’ job skill requirements.

Tell us a little about yourself.

I was born and raised in Montana where I completed my Bachelor of Art in Economics, moved to Oregon for graduate school where I earned my PhD, and then moved to the San Fernando Valley in 1971 as an economics professor at CSUN. My academic interests were in urban, regional, and labor economics, with primary research interest in evaluating training programs. In 2003, extensive evaluation research on California’s Employment Training Panel programs with Northridge colleagues resulted in the book Training That Works. Since retirement in 2009, I have worked with Northridge colleagues on several contracts for the City of Los Angeles to evaluate the effectiveness and efficiency of various City programs.

My wife, Bonnie, and I have four adult children between us. Three of them live locally and one lives in the Bay Area. We love the music and art venues that Los Angeles offers. We like to travel, and we love California’s weather, beaches, mountains, wines, craft beers, and most of all family get-togethers.

What is one of your Passion Projects that you are working on?

In the mid-80s, Getty Oil provided a grant to the CSUN College of Business and Economics to enhance minority education. I leveraged those funds and other resources to develop and implement the Minority Business Program (MBP) in which underrepresented minority students were recruited and provided with advisement, faculty mentors, study facilities, and other resources to enhance their successful completion of a business degree.

Most of the students served by this program were the first ones in their extended families to attend college. Before MBP, this demographic had been performing below average in terms of grades and graduation rates. After MBP had been in operation for a few years, these students were performing above average in both grades and graduation rates. I believe that MBP helped many minority students realize their full potential and helped the Valley grow a more diverse and skilled workforce.

Why do you continue to be a member of The Valley Economic Alliance?

I am a member of TVEA because they provide many opportunities to work with dedicated and interesting people in cooperative efforts to improve the economy, housing, transportation, employment, and educational opportunities for current and future Valley residents. There are many projects that will improve our communities and TVEA is a vehicle through which we can positively affect the quality of life in the Valley in all of its many aspects.