Mission Local has learned that Kate Sofis, who officially stepped down as San Francisco’s head of San Francisco’s Office of Economic and Workforce Development this week, has already found a new roost: Her former colleagues at OEWD were informed by the mayor’s office today at an all-hands meeting that Sofis has been appointed the managing director of the War Memorial and Performing Arts Center, the complex that houses the San Francisco Opera, San Francisco Symphony and San Francisco Ballet.
A mayor’s office representative told OEWD staff that Sofis would be “staying within the city family and moving to War Memorial,” Mission Local is told.
The War Memorial director position has an annual salary range between $188,448 and $240,448. Sofis will head the city department and direct its 70 employees and 100 part-timers.
Sofis does not appear to meet the minimum qualifications for this role, which require at least five years “managing the operations of a performing arts venue.” Sofis has none, according to her LinkedIn profile.
Those minimum qualifications may just be recommendations, however: The War Memorial Board of Trustees, an 11-member board of mayoral appointees that governs the complex, has full hiring and firing power over the director position. While civil service roles have strict qualification requirements, board-appointed ones do not.
Neither the mayor’s office nor Sofis have responded to requests for comment.
The War Memorial complex includes the War Memorial Opera House, the Harold L. Zellerbach Rehearsal Hall, the Louise M. Davies Symphony Hall, and other performing arts venues across the street from City Hall.
Filling Sofis’ position atop OEWD will be Sarah Dennis-Phillips, presently a senior director at the development firm Tishman-Speyer, and formerly deputy director of development for Mayor London Breed. Breed also appointed Dennis-Phillips to the city’s Inclusionary Housing Advisory Board in September, a body that advises the Board of Supervisors on affordable housing rates in private developments.
The appointment is a quick turnaround for Sofis, who just last week began saying her goodbyes at OEWD, where she served as executive director for two years.
The reason for her departure is unclear, but she faced two lawsuits alleging conflicts of interest stemming from her former nonprofit, the manufacturing group SFMade.
The lawsuits, one in California Superior Court and the other in federal court, were filed by another manufacturing nonprofit, Humanmade, which alleged that Sofis “repeatedly abused [her] insider position to enrich SFMade and its affiliates,” among other complaints.
SFMade declined to comment on the lawsuits.
Sofis previously failed to file disclosure forms showing that she had dealings with Amazon while serving as executive director of SFMade — and then quietly negotiated to bring an Amazon delivery hub into San Francisco as head of OEWD.
A committee of the War Memorial board voted today in a closed session on their recommendation for the managing director position, choosing between three candidates. That recommendation has been advanced to the full Board of Trustees, which could formally ratify Sofis’ position on June 21.
Correction: A previous version of this article stated that the Board of Supervisors would ratify Sofis’ position. It is the War Memorial Board of Trustees that has that power.