Sara Fenske Bahat

Chief Executive Officer

Sara is a connector, most at-home when bridging the creative arts, economics, and equitable design to shape our social and political landscape. As Yerba Buena Center for the Arts (YBCA) CEO, Sara works collaboratively with the YBCA team to advance the organization as a dynamic home for artists, arts and culture, and social justice movement building. Prior to becoming CEO, Sara served as YBCA’s Board Chair. Under her leadership, YBCA navigated COVID-19 pandemic challenges (which resulted in the longest mass closure of cultural venues since World War II), received support from leading innovators for groundbreaking work at the intersection of arts and movement building, and launched the nation’s first dedicated guaranteed income program for artists.

Most recently, Sara served as chair of the California College of the Arts (CCA) MBA in Design Strategy, a groundbreaking, multidisciplinary degree rooted in systems theory, foresight, and innovation.

Sara has a community finance and economic development background. Before becoming an educator, she worked for New York City’s economic development agency and in banking, where she championed local government support for community banks, improved banking and savings products for immigrant households, and multi-state consumer protection settlements.

Raised in a Milwaukee family steeped in advocacy for human, civil, and LGBTQ+ rights, Sara quickly developed a commitment to activism and social justice. A dedicated political fundraiser and mobilizer, she is passionate about driving civic engagement and hosted the Democratic National Committee’s first-ever Zoom fundraiser at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Sara is a graduate of the University of Wisconsin-Madison and the London School of Economics. She is a 2022 Presidential Leadership Scholar, exploring the meaning of culture and cohesion in a country increasingly divided across wealth, ideology, and acknowledgment of historic and present inequity.

Sara lives in San Francisco and loves a good dance party.