James P. Mayer
Senior Fellow & President Emeritus
Jim Mayer is senior fellow and president emeritus at California Forward, a bipartisan public interest effort to bolster democracy and improve the performance of government in California. Working with civic and governmental partners statewide, CA Fwd has been the consistent advocate for comprehensive governance reforms that will lead to better results and accountability. As its founding chief executive, Mayer helped to usher California’s modernization of redistricting, primary elections, term limits, ethics and transparency laws – to empower voters, encourage bipartisan solutions and restore public trust. He shepherded CA Fwd’s efforts to build capacity within governments to improve outcomes, and to advance a shared agenda among private, civic and public sector leaders to sustainably and equitable increase prosperity.
For a decade, Mayer was a daily newspaper journalist chronicling public problems. For another decade, Mayer staffed and led an independent and bipartisan state commission charged with reviewing programs and policies and recommending reforms to the Governor and the Legislature. And for the most recent decade, Mayer has helmed a civic effort to close the gap between what state and local agencies are getting done – and what they need to get done to reduce poverty and restore upward mobility, to create sustainable and equitable communities, and to support competitive and resilient regional economies.
As a journalist with The Press-Tribune in Placer County, The Bakersfield Californian and The Sacramento Bee, Mayer was recognized statewide for his coverage of education and natural resource issues.
While a project manager, deputy director and executive director of the Little Hoover Commission, he was involved in more than 30 comprehensive reviews of government policies and operations.
At CA Fwd, he has worked with volunteer leaders and a statewide team of staff and consultants to mature solutions from ideas to implementation – from fiscal procedures to specific programs focused on public health, safety and education.
He is a graduate of Diablo Valley College and California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo. He earned a master’s in public policy from California State University, Sacramento and was a fellow at the University of Michigan.