A former Clinton White House staffer and telecommunications lobbyist has been elected chairman of the Valley Economic Development Center’s board of directors. Francisco Uribe, director of governmental and external affairs for Verizon Inc., took over the post April 1 and is the first Latino to head the 30-year organization, which provides business assistance, economic development and loans to businesses in the region. “I’m looking forward to it,” said Uribe, 36. “I want to try to look at what we’re the most successful at and build on that.” Born in Mexico, Uribe graduated from the University of Southern California and Pepperdine University and worked from 1993 to 1995 as a staff assistant to Attorney General Janet Reno and later as associate director for Hispanic, environmental and religious community issues in the White House Office of Public Liaison. He also served as special projects coordinator for U.S. Rep. Xavier Becerra before joining Verizon in Thousand Oaks about 10 years ago. Uribe also serves on a number of boards, including the Valley Industry and Commerce Association, South Bay Latino Chamber of Commerce, California Hispanic Corporate Council and Santa Monica College Associates. He has been a member of the VEDC board for seven years. “It’s one of my favorites because you can really see the benefits it brings to the communities it serves,” said Uribe, who admits he was surprised by his nomination. “It was a good time for me to step up into a leadership position.” VEDC President Roberto Barragan said Uribe’s extensive background in government and business helps the organization, which receives about 20 percent of its funds from the federal government. “He strengthens our government relations,” Barragan said. “Francisco opens a lot of doors.” Additionally, the board elected Dutch Ross, owner of Economic Resource Corp., and Business Journal Publisher Pegi Matsuda as vice chairs; Woodbury University Vice President Don St. Clair as secretary; and Scott Aney of Cal National Bank as treasurer.