November DMO of the Month
Nestled in the Silicon Valley—a name synonymous with innovation—sits Sunnyvale, California. Sunnyvale is a thriving business and residential community due in large part to an actively engaged city council.As one of the first Asian-American City Council members, Otto Lee has served in different governing roles—from steering building and economic development initiatives as Planning Commissioner to establishing the Mayoral Green Ribbon Committee to raise awareness ofcritical environmental issues. Lee continued his civic commitment and served as Vice-Mayor then Mayor in 2008 to the town he has calledhome since the 1990's.
Otto Lee has been instrumental in building Democratic Municipal Officials into a strong national organization and currently serves as Treasurer of our organization. But term limits have unintended consequences. We know they can lead to scenarios for cities where bureaucrats who are not elected and accountable have too much control, and for DMO, term limits can steal great leaders from us.
Otto Lee's City Council term ends this year, and so his tenure on our Board. However, we are honored to announce that Otto Lee has accepted the role of Founding Chairman of the DMO Democratic Leaders Advisory Board. In this capacity he will help us build a Democratic leaders board of national figures and former DMOs who will help ensure our prominence within the Democratic Party and our continued growth.
Otto Lee’s civic leadership stems from his parents, Jane and Kevin Lee, who instilled in him the values of accountability, respect for others and personal achievement. Lee, formerly known as the "Green Mayor” of Sunnyvale, created a greater awareness of community and environmental issues affecting his constituents’ daily lives. Growing up in Berkeley helped to shape Otto’s strong interest in community and social services. Those close to him often say that public service is "in his blood”.
When Lee graduated from UC Berkeley, he was commissioned as an Ensign in the U.S. Navy and served in the first Gulf War. Now in his 19th year of Naval Reserve service, Lee holds the rank of Commander, and is the Executive Officer of Commander, Naval Air Forces Supply 0294. Lee has been honored for his military service in a combat zone. He is the recipient ofthe Bronze Star, the Joint Services Achievement Medal, and the Iraqi Campaign Medal.
As an active city council member, Otto Lee shaped the city council into a moreunified body—forging synergies with key city staff.He streamlined procedures, cut waste and created efficiencies. Owing to his financial acumen,Leehelped close a $14 million shortfall which allows Sunnyvale to maintain its AA+ municipal bond rating.
Otto Lee is the founder and managing partner of the Intellectual Property Law Group LLP, which has its national headquarters in downtown San Jose’s historic Bank of America building.Lee's focus is protecting the intellectual capital that fuels Silicon Valley’s innovation. He specializes in international intellectual property, trade secrets, and fighting anti-competitive business practices.
In addition to maintaining an active city council calendar and legal practice, Leefinds time to spearhead new initiatives in partnership with community organizations and is nonprofits.
His current and former roles have included: Board Chair of ACT for Mental Health, member of the Blue Ribbon Task Force for Nanotechnology, member of the Sunnyvale School District’s Mini-Grant Committee, member of the Santa Clara County Cities Association‘s Legislative Action Committee, President of the National League of Cities Asian Pacific American Municipal Officials, member of the Moffett Field Restoration Advisory Board, and member of the U.S. Conference of Mayors Energy Committee.
When he does find time to relax,Lee enjoys time with his family. His wife Sally and their three children, Aubrianna, Hillary, and Stella, may be looking forward to more time with Otto, but we suspect this is not the last time we will see him holding elected office. Of course, there is no harder or more time-consuming role than that of a municipla official, so they may see more of him despite that. Watch for more to come from Otto Lee.
Otto Lee is an engaged and active civic leader, tireless advocate and is a valued DMO Board Member. We are proud to honor him as our November DMO of the Month. We wouldn't be where we are without him. This honor is well-earned.