Longtime Bay Area resident Otto Lee has dedicated much of his adult life to public and community service. After immigrating to the U.S. with his family in 1982, Otto spent his adolescent years in Berkeley, where he attended Berkeley High School. After graduating from high school, Otto earned a B.S. in chemical and nuclear engineering from UC Berkeley and a law degree from UC Hastings. 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”.
Upon graduating from UC Berkeley, Otto was commissioned as an Ensign in the U.S. Navy. He served onboard the USS Harry E. Yarnell as the Ship’s Treasurer, Disbursing Officer, and Assistant Supply Officer during the first Gulf War. After his initial active duty, he continued to serve in the Naval Reserves and was recalled to active duty to serve in OPERATION NOBLE EAGLE/IRAQI FREEDOM with the Commander, Naval Air Forces Pacific. Since then he has also served with Commander, U.S. Naval Forces in Korea. Now in his 26th year of Naval Reserve service, Otto holds the rank of Commander, and is the Executive Officer of Commander, Naval Air Forces Supply 0294, which supports aircraft carriers based on the West Coast.
Otto has been active in city government since moving to Sunnyvale in the 1990s. As a member and chair of the Sunnyvale Planning Commission, Otto helped usher in an era of smart growth and downtown revitalization. Elected to the Sunnyvale City Council in 2003, Otto was one of the city’s first Asian American city council members. He has also served as Vice Mayor, and during his term as Mayor, he established the Mayoral Green Ribbon Committee to promote environmental awareness. Otto has been known as the “Green Mayor” of Sunnyvale. Otto has also played a key role in transforming the city council into a more cohesive body with effective working relationships with key city staff. Otto helped usher in a new era of civility and fiscal responsibility that helped to turn the city’s $14 million budget deficit into a small surplus and thus maintain Sunnyvale’s excellent municipal bond rating of AA+.
Otto 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 Italy building. Otto’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.
Despite maintaining a full schedule with the city council, US Navy and his law firm, Otto is involved in numerous community and non-profit organizations. He has been the board chair of ACT for Mental Health, a member of the Santa Clara County Blue Ribbon Commission on Improving Custody Operations, a member of the Blue Ribbon Task Force for Nanotechnology, a member of the Sunnyvale School District’s Mini-Grant Committee, a member of the Santa Clara County Cities Association‘s Legislative Action Committee, President of the National League of Cities Asian Pacific American Municipal Officials, a member of the Moffett Field Restoration Advisory Board, and a member of the U.S. Conference of Mayors Energy Committee.
In January 2009, Commander Otto Lee deployed to Iraq in support of OPERATION IRAQI FREEDOM where he was stationed at Camp Victory in Baghdad. He served as Chief of Drawdown Material Disposition Policy at the Multi-National Forces – Iraq Headquarters focused on base closures and materiel drawdown. For his yearlong service in the combat zone, he was awarded the Bronze Star, the Joint Services Achievement Medal, and the Iraqi Campaign Medal. In January 2010, Commander Lee returned home.
Otto has remained close to his parents, Jane and Kevin Lee, who instilled in him the values of accountability, respect for others and personal achievement. Otto is married to Sally, a CPA, who was the Vice Chair of the Board of Asian Americans for Community Involvement. They have three children, Aubrianna, Hillary, and Stella.