I was editor of the editorial page of Palo Alto High School's student newspaper, The Campanile, when I got my first professional assignments as a journalist and writer. My career path and formal education were interrupted, however, by some unfortunate family circumstances that led me to drop out of high school in 11th grade in order to work fulltime in whatever jobs I could find, including gas station bathroom cleaner and later, pizza parlour attendent. Nonetheless, thanks to the help of some kind teachers and administrators I managed to graduate with my class in 1975, albeit just barely. I attended college part-time over the next 10 years while freelancing and, initially, holding down a variety of other jobs, including retail sales clerk, office assistant and temp worker. Around 1979, I was finally able to support myself through my research, writing, broadcasting and editing. My earliest journalism jobs included writing a regular column and feature articles for the San Jose Metro weekly alternative newspaper and serving as news and public affairs director for KPEN 97.7 FM, a small but popular Silicon Valley-based jazz station that was later purchased by SF-based KFOG. I ultimately earned my associate's degree in history, with high honors, from Foothill Community College in 1985. Thanks to the generosity of a distant relative I did not have to work fulltime or more during my final year in college, which allowed me to finish my bachelor's degree in behavioral sciences, with distinction, at San Jose State University the following year, 1986. I also ghostwrote two books and served as an editorial consultant on several others during this period.
My published work since that time has focused mostly on public policy, technology, science, education and business. I've written more than 600 articles for a variety of magazines, journals and newspapers on these often interrelated subjects. The topics I have covered include analysis of progressive approaches to higher education, entrepreneurial trends, e-learning strategies, business management, open source software, alternative energy research and development, voting technologies, streaming media platforms, online electioneering, biotech research, patent and tax law reform, federal nanotechnology policies and tech stocks.
In 1988, I accepted an invitation to join the public radio network as a founding editor of Marketplace, an award-winning business news and commentary program, where I served as commentary editor, segment producer and as a substitute anchor. I returned to Palo Alto two years later to devote more time to print journalism and to pursue my long-held passion for social activism.
In 1993, I won the Democratic party's nomination for a special election to fill Silicon Valley's seat in the California state Senate but was defeated in the general election by Tom Campbell, a former GOP member of the U.S. Congress. The following year, I was appointed to serve a two-year term on the California state Economic Strategy Panel by the then-Speaker of the California state Assembly, the Honorable Willie L. Brown, Jr.
In 1994, I served as a senior fellow of the World Economic Development Congress, where I helped organize a conference that brought PLO leader Yasser Arafat and then Israeli-president Chiam Herzog together for peace and economic cooperation talks in Madrid, Spain.
I began writing my regular technology beat column for the Hearst Corp.-owned SFgate.com in 1998. I joined CNBC.com the following year as full-time Silicon Valley correspondent for the online operations of the financial news television network. I worked for CNBC.com from the day the site went online in July 1999 until Microsoft Corp. took over editorial operations in July 2001.
In 2003, I was approached by community leaders and members of the faculty and staff at the Foothill and De Anza Community College District and asked to run for an open seat on their five-member Governing Board of Trustees. Honored by the invitation, I ran for the non-partisan seat and was elected to the board in November 2003 by the voters in Palo Alto, Mountain View, Cupertino, Sunnyvale, Los Altos, Los Altos Hills and parts of San Jose and Saratoga. During this time, I also served as a member of the Association of Community College Trustees' (ACCT) Committee on Public Policy. In 2007, I was re-elected, without opposition, to another full term on the Foothill-De Anza Board after having been elected earlier that year as board president.
In July 2009, I resigned my seat on the Foothill-De Anza Community College District Governing Board to accept an appointment as Senior Policy Advisor to Under Secretary of Education Martha Kanter in the United States Department of Education, in Washington, D.C.
My previous publishers include Inc. magazine, Inc. International, International Business magazine, Forbes ASAP, Barron's Online, California magazine, California Business magazine, Family Business magazine, The Harvard Management Update, The Harvard Management Communications Update, Securities Industry Daily, Ernst & Young's Entrepreneur of the Year magazine, France's Courrier International newspaper, Biotechnology magazine, Biotechnology In Japan Newsservice, The Peninsula Times Tribune, Investools.com, Arthur Andersen's Knowledgespace.com, and the Palo Alto Weekly, among others.
Publications citing my work include Die Welt, Mac Week Japan, Brazil's 80/20, The Taipei Times, The Industry Standard, ZDnet.com, MSNBC.com, Wired.com, The National Review, The California Hydrogen Business Council and Nanotechnology News, among others.