President & CEO (Retired)
Julie Meier Wright is the retired chief executive of the San Diego Regional Economic Development Corporation and formerly California’s first Secretary of Trade & Commerce and a member of Governor Pete Wilson’s Cabinet. Since her retirement in June 2011, she has consulted on public affairs, marketing, and advocacy, serving as Strategic Advisor to Collaborative Economics of San Mateo, California, and a consultant to the California Council on Science & Technology from 2011-2016. With the founder and chairman of Collaborative Economics, she conceived the California Economic Summit, now in its sixth year. She also served as an advisor to the Okinawa (Japan) Institute of Science & Technology (OIST) and to the Kyoto, Japan-based STS forum, both founded by former Minister of Finance and Minister of Science & Technology for Japan, the Honorable Koji Omi. In 2016, she was named a Senior Fellow of the US Council on Competitiveness and in 2017 a Senior Fellow of the California Council on Science & Technology.
She current serves on the Board of Directors of Sharp HealthCare, a $3-billion healthcare system of seven hospitals, two medical groups and a health insurance plan, and a former Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award winner. She serves on the Nominating and Governance Committee (former chair), the Audit and Compliance Committee and the Advocacy Committee. Earlier she served on the Board of Directors of Maxim Systems, a privately held defense systems engineering company sold to Accenture in 2007. She also served on the Advisory Board to Retirement Capital Group, an executive compensation and benefits company, and its successor company, Clark Bardes. She was named Director of the Year for Not-for-Profit Boards and Director of the Year for Companies in Transition by the Corporate Directors Forum.
She has also served on a wide array of university, not-for-profit and civic boards, and is currently on the boards of the Jacobs School of Engineering and the California Institute for Telecommunications and Information Technology, both at the University of California San Diego.
As Secretary of Trade & Commerce from 1991-1997, she led Governor Pete Wilson’s Administration’s wide-ranging business climate reforms, built a new Agency integrating economic development programs, and expanded the state’s international role and presence, including opening five new overseas offices. In six years, her Red Teams were directly responsible for the creation or retention of nearly 100,000 jobs in California. She also leveraged a $200,000 state investment into a $15 million advertising program, “California. The Climate’s Right.”
In San Diego, she built a strong not-for-profit organization that gave this unique bi-national region an in-depth understanding of its growth industries and the public policy, regional and bi-national initiatives essential to success. She also led the region’s highly successful efforts to protect its military bases in the 2005 round of base closures (BRAC), and earlier branded San Diego “Technology’s Perfect Climate.” Later, she created the Cali Baja Bi-National Mega-Region brand and plan to promote this unique mega-region.
She has been an ex-officio member of the U.S. Council on Competitiveness, and served on its national steering committee and led the San Diego study for Dr. Michael Porter’s study of Regions of Innovation. She served on the Secretary of Energy Advisory Board’s Task Force on Math-Science Education, the California State Assembly Speaker’s Commission on Regionalism, and the California Business Transportation & Housing Agency’s expert review panel on government reform. Other notable past appointments include boards and advisory boards of the Corporate Directors Forum, California Tourism Commission, the California Economic Strategy Panel (chair), the California Economic Development Financing Authority, the Governor’s Advisory Council on Biotechnology (chair), the Export-Import Bank of the United States, the California World Trade Commission, the California State University Institute, California Business-Higher Education Forum, the California Coastal Commission, and the California Film Commission.
Wright was named California Leader of the Year by Leadership California in 1996 and the nation’s Outstanding Secretary of Commerce by the Biotechnology Industry Organization (BIO) in 1995, and won national awards for innovation from the US Department of Commerce and CoreNet Global.
She also spent 25 years in senior executive public affairs positions at TRW Inc., one of the country’s leading technology companies, now a part of Northrop-Grumman. She holds a bachelor’s degree from the University of Maryland and completed the Advanced Management College at Stanford University. She writes and speaks on a range of issues.