Daniel Harris runs San Jose’s branch of the Knight Foundation. He moved here with a mission—and it’s a lofty one—to make San Jose one of the greatest cities in the world. Since then, Harris has seen the completion of projects like Viva CalleSJ and the activation of Plaza de Cesar Chavez. Also a DJ and photographer, Harris spends much of his free time exploring San Jose’s many neighborhoods and restaurants with his wife and daughter.

How long have you lived/worked in San Jose?

I have been in San Jose for about a year and half now. I moved here from Washington D.C. in November 2014, when I first got the job. I have lived in numerous cities in the U.S. and in California twice, so it was nice returning to the Bay Area.

At what point did you decide to stay in San Jose and pursue your career?  

I lived in California twice before and was familiar with the Bay Area, plus I had been looking forward to working with the Knight Foundation for awhile before the opportunity arose. There are so many opportunities in San Jose and I really wanted to be a part of making San Jose the greatest city it could be.

What do you like most about San Jose?

The people. In such a short amount of time I have met so many amazing people. Having moved here with my wife and child we were very quickly welcomed into the community. We met people all over San Jose in no time. To me, San Jose is a big city that feels like a small town. I know my barber and barista, and people welcome you easily. For us it’s the most wonderful thing. I grew up in New York, which has a completely different feel.

If you could change one thing about San Jose, what would it be?

I think some people have it, some people don’t, but I wish San Joseans had the confidence to make the city the great place it could be. I feel that the great city we could be is limited by doubts, whether its from living in the shadow of San Francisco or having a chip on our shoulder. I wish more people had the confidence to make our city one of the greatest not only in California, but the world.

What San Jose event do you most look forward to every year?

I love everything food related. Yelp and recommendations from friends and family have taken us to every corner of San Jose. Ethnic food celebrates the diversity of the city we live in. I admire the entrepreneurship and hustle of small businesses. Food is a wonderful way to way to connect the city and its people.

How do you like to hang out when you’re not working?

My wife and I have a baby now. We love taking her out and walking her around. Pretty much everyday after work I’m out walking her, mostly out exploring new neighborhoods around San Jose.

Who is the most interesting person you’ve met in San Jose?

I’ve met so many, I meet so many different people hearing ideas for the Knight Foundation. You have this group of passionate entrepreneurs whether they are just getting started or have years of experience. They are all so passionate about making our city great. Recently, I listened to a man who does street art and someone focused on sustainable farming. I love meeting with people who have this hunger to make the city better.

What are your favorite programs the Knight Foundation has sponsored?

All of the projects we do, we support through funding or partnership. We are proud of all all of the different ideas that we have produced. Viva Calle was an especially successful event. We had an incredible turnout and even brought it back again this year. Also, activating Cesar Chavez during the Super Bowl and now having it turn into a permanent vibrant public space is great for the city and its residents. We are trying to show people what’s possible in the open spaces around the city, getting the community and residents comfortable with new ideas and creating permanent fixtures in San Jose.

Are there any future projects you’re looking forward to bringing to San Jose?

We have about 100 grant keys at this time, almost 15-25 different events monthly. Our newsletter goes out every month listing everything we have going on. I really encourage residents to check it out and learn more about what’s happening in the city.

Can you tell me about your DJ career?

Started DJing in 2001 right after college. I was always very interested in music. Most recently I played in Washington D.C., which was voted best DJ night in D.C. I hope to get back to it here in San Jose.