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Building Bridges: Meet MBEP’s

New President and CEO, Tahra Goraya

Bringing a diverse range of partners to the table has always been key to MBEP’s success: It’s what has made MBEP so effective in addressing challenging issues such as housing, broadband, workforce development, and climate change so as to improve the quality of life in the region.

For Tahra Goraya, MBEP’s new president and CEO, the ability to bring people together is a natural strength, one that has served her well in leadership roles across multiple sectors from nonprofit management to business and government.

Born to Pakistani immigrants in Sacramento and raised in Bakersfield, Goraya earned her undergraduate degrees in biology and psychology from UC Irvine and later earned a master’s in organizational management from the University of Phoenix. She recognized early on that diversity in all its forms can strengthen collaboration. From her first job out of college – as an HIV counselor for a faith-based nonprofit in a predominantly black community — or as regional director for Zero to Three, a national early childhood public policy and research organization, as district director for California State Sen. Carol Liu or as the national director of the Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR), Goraya recognized that the most effective path to progress lies in finding the common ground.

Getting there, she says, means ensuring that a diverse range of voices and perspectives are not only heard but welcomed.

The bold initiatives that MBEP champions — and its cross-sector approach to advancing the agenda and policy issues that matter to the Monterey Bay region — are what attracted Goraya to MBEP.

She is thrilled to be back in her home state and looks forward to bringing her background and perspectives to the important work that MBEP does.

The months ahead, she says, will be about “listening, learning, and having those important conversations about how MBEP can best accomplish its mission of helping the region thrive.”

As the daughter of immigrants, as a woman of color, and as a faithful Muslim, Goraya said she is passionate about issues of diversity and social justice and driven to build community.

“I love strategy, I love convening, and I love to see the connections between people,” she says. “Every person has something to say, to bring to the table, and it’s those unconventional partners around the table that are able to bring solutions.

The art of the possible happens when you get so many people together to look for solutions, and MBEP helps guide that,” says Goraya. “If we can agree that we want our region to thrive, I think that’s what brings people to the table.”