Board of Governors Ballot 2015

WELCOME to our annual election for members of the Board of Governors of The Commonwealth Club of California. The Commonwealth Club is a members organization, and we invite our members to take an active role in selecting board leadership. All current members of The Commonwealth Club of California are eligible to vote.

Polls open at 12:01 a.m. on Tuesday, November 24, and close at 11:59 p.m. on Tuesday, December 1.

Following the voting period, the votes will be tabulated, and a meeting of the membership will be held at 5:45 p.m. on Wednesday, December 3, 2015, preceding that evening’s program, at which time the election results will be presented for ratification by the members present.

Click on the box in the space next to the name of each person for whom you wish to vote. Vote for as many candidates as you wish.

After you have made your selections, fill in the “Your Name” and the “Your Commonwealth Club Member ID #” fields and click on the "Submit" button at the bottom of the ballot.

Thank you!


John R. Farmer, a native of Louisville, Kentucky, has been a California resident since 1969.  He graduated from Washington and Lee University, Lexington, Virginia in 1961, and then served two years as an officer in the U.S. Army.  John has spent his entire business and professional career in the investment banking and securities industry retiring from Goldman Sachs as a General Partner. 

John and his family lived in London for sixteen years returning to California in 2004. He spent 13 years as a Trustee of The American School in London, serving eleven of those as Chair of the Board from 1993 to 2004. He has been involved in higher education serving as a Trustee for 10 years of Washington and Lee University.

Currently, John serves on the Board of Trustees of Occidental College, Los Angeles, where he recently served as Chair for four years and has been a Trustee since 1995.

John and his wife, Tawna, have four children and eight grandchildren, and currently reside in Tiburon.


Richard A. Rubin is President of Richard A. Rubin Associates, a San Francisco public affairs management and business development consulting firm founded in 1987.

An attorney, Rubin has over 40 years’ experience in public policy management, business and teaching.

He writes a blog “The Political Stage”, and his guest column appears regularly in the Marin Independent Journal.  He has advised numerous elected officials and candidates at state and national levels.

Rubin has served on the graduate faculties at both U.C. Berkeley Extension in the School of Business, and Golden Gate University. He is currently a Visiting Professor in the Fromm Institute at the University of San Francisco where he teaches courses on the Presidential and Congressional elections.

Previously he served as Legislative Assistant to U.S. Senators Harrison “Pete” Williams (N.J.) and John V. Tunney (CA) in Washington, D.C, and was Executive Director of the New Jersey Urban Affairs Council. Thereafter he organized and directed the Navajo Nation Office of Congressional Affairs in Washington, D.C.

Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger appointed him to the California Workforce Investment Board to which he has been reappointed by Governor Jerry Brown and sits on the Executive Committee. He was a long-time member and Vice President of the State Bar Board of Governors as well as President of the San Francisco Self Help for the Elderly.

A past Trustee of Kenyon College and President Emeritus of the Berkeley Repertory Theater Board, he served also as Vice President of both the San Francisco Girls Chorus and the California Small Business Board. He also serves on the Advisory Boards of the New Leaders Council and Our Time.

An alumnus of Kenyon College with a B.A. in Political Science, he has an M.I.A. (Master of International Affairs) from Columbia University's School of Public and International Affairs, and his J.D. from George Washington University in Washington, D.C.

He is married to San Francisco lobbyist H. Marcia Smolens and has five daughters, four granddaughters and an English Mastiff.

Frank C. Meerkamp is a Managing Director with Accenture, the global management consulting, technology services and outsourcing company. With its approximately 300,000 people Accenture is serving clients across all industries in more than 120 countries.

Mr. Meerkamp is leading Accenture’s SAP consulting practice for their Communications, Media, Technology and Aerospace and Defense clients in North America. In this role he takes accountability for business development and delivery of Accenture’s SAP consulting services for clients in these industries. He is actively engaged in Accenture’s People Agenda leading our Northern California SAP Community Group as well as being the executive sponsor for the Experienced Hire Networking Group. Mr. Meerkamp has been frequently involved in sponsoring minority and diversity events across Accenture and has regular speaking engagements at SAP client and user events.

Prior to joining Accenture Mr. Meerkamp spent 12 years with SAP in Germany and the US where he held a variety of positions in consulting services and sales. During this time he engaged with and had responsibility for SAP business transformation programs with clients in the US, Japan, South Korea, Hong Kong and across Western Europe.

Born in Heidelberg, Germany, Frank Meerkamp holds a masters degree of Business Administration and Computer Science from Karlsruhe University, Germany. He relocated to the Bay Area in 1997. In 2007 he became a US citizen and now lives in Redwood City with his wife and 3 children ages 20, 11 and 9.

Lee J. Dutra (Board Treasurer), an audit and advisory partner with more than 30 years of public accounting experience, is the Office Managing Partner of Ernst & Young's San Francisco office, where he leads over 1,100 people in our assurance, tax, advisory and transactions service lines. For the three years ending December 31, 2009, Lee was the Managing Partner of Ernst & Young’s Advisory services practice in the Pacific Northwest, and prior to that, was the Managing Partner of Ernst & Young's Walnut Creek office.
Over the course of his career, Lee has worked in several Ernst & Young offices, including San Francisco, Oakland, Walnut Creek, and Düsseldorf Germany. During his tenure with our firm, Lee has served clients in the consumer products, retail, manufacturing, business services and medical devices industries. He also has in-depth experience with SEC registration statements and business combinations, having guided clients through a number of initial public and secondary offerings, as well as various purchase and divestiture transactions.
Lee received a Bachelor of Business Administration with Honors, Accounting from Cal State University, Hayward. Lee, his wife Melissa, and their four sons reside in Danville, CA. Lee is a former member of the board of the Monte Vista Athletic Boosters, Junior Achievement of the Bay Area, and the Bay Area Science Fairs. He is also a member of the Alexis de Tocqueville Society of United Way of the Bay Area.

John F. AllenJohn F. Allen was born and raised in an iconic “River City, Iowa” town during the 1950’s. After graduating from the University of Iowa and serving in the U.S. Army, John enrolled in the University of California at Berkeley to obtain his MBA. In 1973, John Allen co-founded Oliver-Allen Corporation, a prominent company specializing in providing information technology to companies nationwide. Over the next two decades Oliver-Allen Corporation grew to over 100 employees before being acquired in 2000 by U.S. Bancorp. John stayed on as CEO of the company until 2003.

Mr. Allen began his real estate portfolio during the 1970’s, investing in multifamily complexes and commercial property, the largest of which was a 150-unit multifamily complex in Oakland, California—Park Bellevue Apartments. The property was later converted into condominiums and successfully sold. Currently, John Allen is President of Allen Securities, LLC, J Allen Companies, LLC, and St. Regis Group, Inc.

Carlo Almendral is a serial entrepreneur. His specialty is in metrics, product management, design, and front-end development.

He has successfully launched more than 30 products on iOS, Android, Facebook, PS3, and web.

In the past, he has helped start DogBff, Metamoki, ROFLPlay, (acquired by Lolapps), and Animation Vertigo.


Courtland AlvesCourtland Alves is a specialist in consumer mobile and web social applications.

Courtland has overseen the production of top-ranking mobile and social products, several of which boast tens of millions of users. Most recently Courtland, as CEO, led mobile sports startup Hitpost to a successful acquisition by Yahoo!

Courtland has a background in software engineering with a degree in computer science and electrical engineering from UC Berkeley.


Mary BittermanDr. Mary G. F. Bitterman (Past Board Chair) is president of The Bernard Osher Foundation, a 36-year-old philanthropic organization headquartered in San Francisco that supports higher education and the arts. Post-secondary scholarships are provided to selected institutions nationally, with a recent emphasis on meeting the needs of reentry students. The Foundation supports a growing national network of lifelong learning institutes for older adults located at 117 colleges and universities from Maine to Hawaii and Alaska. The Foundation also funds integrative medicine centers at Harvard University, the University of California, San Francisco, and the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm, Sweden as well as a career development awards program at the NIH National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM). Grants for culture and the arts are generally made to organizations in the San Francisco Bay Area and the State of Maine. 

Previously, Bitterman served as president and CEO of The James Irvine Foundation, an independent grant- making foundation serving Californians, and before that as president and CEO of KQED, one of the major public media centers in the United States. She has served also as executive director of the Hawaii Public Broadcasting Authority, director of the Voice of America, director of the Hawaii State Department of Commerce and Consumer Affairs, and director of the East-West Center’s Institute of Culture and Communication. 

Bitterman is past chair of the Board of the Commonwealth Club of California and currently chairs the PBS Foundation Board and is a director of Bank of Hawaii, The Bay Area Council Economic Institute, The Bernard Osher Foundation, and the Hawaii Community Foundation. She is also an Advisory Council member of the Stanford Institute for Economic Policy Research, Pacific Forum/CSIS, and the Public Policy Institute of California. She has produced several documentaries for public television and has written on telecommunications development and the role of media in developing societies. She is an honorary member of the National Presswomen’s Federation and a fellow of the National Academy of Public Administration. 

A fourth-generation Californian, Bitterman received her B.A. from Santa Clara University and her M.A. and Ph.D. in Modern European History from Bryn Mawr College. She holds honorary doctorates from Dominican University of California, Santa Clara University, and the University of Richmond. 

Harry E. Blount, an investment research industry veteran, formed the DISCERN founding team, building on more than 20 years of executive and financial experience on Wall Street, including senior roles at Lehman Brothers, Credit Suisse First Boston, Donaldson Lufkin & Jenrette, and CIBC Oppenheimer.

Harry has been named an Institutional Investor All-American in both Information Technology Hardware and Internet Infrastructure Services, and The Wall Street Journal has recognized him as an All-Star covering the Computer Hardware sector. Harry also lent his expertise to the National Academy of Sciences where he was a member of the Committee for Forecasting Future Disruptive Technologies. Until recently, he served as the Chairman of the Futures Committee for The Tech Museum of Innovation in San Jose, California. Harry graduated from the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse in 1986 with a B.S. in Finance.

Michael R. BraccoMichael R. Bracco is the Senior Executive Vice President and Chief Administrative Officer for Bank of the West, a San Francisco based commercial Bank with over 700 locations and $60B in assets. 

Before joining Bank of the West, Mr. Bracco held senior positions with Bain & Company, Bain Capital, and Wells Fargo. 

Mr. Bracco earned an M.B.A. from Harvard Business School and B.S. in Computer Science from Rensselaer. 


Carol FlemingCarol A. Fleming, Ph.D. is a personal communication coach in private practice in San Francisco and is the author of the best-selling cassette series, The Sound of Your Voice and The Serious Business of Small Talk. The title of her new book is It’s the Way That You Say It: Becoming Articulate, Well-spoken and Clear.

Fleming has taught at Purdue University, San Francisco and San Jose State Universities, and has lectured at institutions ranging from the College of Podiatry to the Graduate Theological Union of University of California, Berkeley. Her speech training seminars have been featured at numerous corporations, colleges, and professional organizations.

Fleming has served as chairman of the Board of the Hearing and Speech Center of Northern California, chairman of the Board of The San Francisco Chambers Singers, and has served on the Board of the National Association of Women Business Owners, Bay Area Chapter. She is the management chair of the Club’s Member Led Forums.

Fleming holds a doctorate degree from Northwestern University.

Leslie Saul Garvin has 20 years’ experience working at the intersection of the high tech industry, public policy, and the not-for-profit sector. She has been a key mobilizer of Silicon Valley companies and their senior management for social impact. 

In her business career, Leslie managed education marketing and business development programs at Siemens Nixdorf France and 3Com Corporation. In the latter role, she was the senior marketing executive dedicated to education, at that time an $800 million business for 3Com. At both companies, she spearheaded corporate social responsibility projects. 

In the not-for-profit sector, most of Leslie’s work has focused on public policy and large-scale initiatives in the areas of international security, educational technology, education reform, and cyber security. She managed several CEO task forces and led national coalitions and education-industry partnerships. Garvin co- directed the first Silicon Valley NetDay, when 100 schools were networked with equipment donations from 64 companies and 8,000 volunteers. Leslie also served on the California Educational Technology Task Force commissioned by the State Superintendent of Education. In her last position, she was the Director of Public Policy at TechNet, Silicon Valley’s policy and advocacy organization, where she held primary responsibility for education, scientific research, and cyber security initiatives. 

Currently, Leslie is a Partner at the Silicon Valley Social Venture Fund as well as the administrator of the John Gardner Fellowship in Public Service and the Tom Ford Fellowship in Philanthropy at Stanford University’s Haas Center for Public Service. 

Charles GeschkeDr. Charles Geschke co-founded Adobe Systems, Incorporated in 1982. A leader in the software industry for more than 30 years, Geschke retired from his position as president of Adobe in 2000 and continues to share the chairmanship of the board with Adobe’s co-founder John Warnock.

Geschke is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, the American Philosophical Society, the National Academy of Engineering, the Board of Governors of the San Francisco Symphony, and the Board of Governors of the Commonwealth Club of California. He also serves on the Computer Science Advisory Board of Carnegie Mellon University, the Board of the Egan Maritime Foundation, the National Leadership Roundtable on Church Management, and the Board of the Nantucket Boys and Girls Club.

Geschke holds a PhD in Computer Science from Carnegie Mellon University and a Master of Science degree in mathematics and a Bachelor of Arts degree in classics, both from Xavier University. 

Edie HeilmanEdie G. Heilman is principal of Sequoia Leadership Consulting, a firm that provides executive coaching and strategic guidance to business leaders. She retired from Charles Schwab where she was most recently Senior Vice President for Product Strategy, Development, and Management for Charles Schwab Investment Management, Inc. the investment advisor for Schwab’s proprietary mutual funds. 

Previously, Edie was senior vice president of the Schwab Advisor Network, which refers affluent investors to prescreened, independent investment advisors. A Schwab veteran, she held several senior vice president positions in numerous Schwab enterprises including active trader services and retail client services. Prior to joining Schwab in 1997, Edie was president of Share Commercial Services, an outsourcing company for socially responsible businesses and non-profits. She began her career at Pacific Bell, where she spent 11 years in a variety of management roles. 

Edie earned her BA in English from Stanford University and an MBA from the Hass School of Business at the University of California, Berkeley. 

Edie also serves on the boards of Mercy Housing California and Westover School in Middlebury, CT. She lives in Oakland with her husband, Richard Weiss. 

James C. HormelJames C. Hormel served as United States Ambassador to Luxembourg during the administration of President William Jefferson Clinton. He previously served as alternate representative of the U.S. Delegation to the 51st United Nations General Assembly in 1996 and as a member of the U.S. Delegation to the 51st U.N. Human Rights Commission in 1995.

Hormel earned a B.A. in History from Swarthmore College in 1955, where he was awarded an honorary LL.D degree in 2009. He received a J.D. from the University of Chicago Law School in 1958, where he later served as Director of Admissions and Dean of Students.

Hormel is a member of the Board of Directors of People For the American Way, the Board of Trustees of Grace Cathedral, and the Board of Managers of Swarthmore College. He is a life member of the Board of Governors of the San Francisco Symphony and the Visiting Committee of the University of Chicago Law School, and Trustee Emeritus with The San Francisco Foundation. He was a founding director of The Human Rights Campaign and The City Club of San Francisco, and is the founder of Equidex, Inc. He joined The Commonwealth Club Board in 2005.

Mary HussMary Huss has been publisher of the San Francisco Business Times since 1991, and her career with regional business journals spans over 25 years.

The San Francisco Business Times is a local business news media operation that includes a weekly newspaper, online news site, daily email news products and events.   It is one of 40 regional newspapers published by American City Business Journals. The weekly San Francisco Business Times reaches more than 87,000 readers in the Bay Area.

Mary began her career with business journals as part of the startup team that launched the St. Louis Business Journal, and a number of other business journals.  Before coming to San Francisco, she was publisher of the Philadelphia Business Journal.  Throughout her journalism career, she has been a reporter, an editor, a circulation director, an advertising sales director and publisher of two business journals.

Earlier in her career she was a writer for the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, and before that was founding editor of a successful weekly alternative paper in St. Louis, The Riverfront Times.  Mary has a bachelor of journalism degree from University of Missouri Columbia.

Mary is past board chair of the San Francisco Chamber of Commerce, and continues to serve on that board and executive board.  She also serves on the Bay Area Council Executive Committee, the Bay Area Council Economic Institute, and on the boards of San Francisco Travel; SPUR; Junior Achievement; the Commonwealth Club; San Francisco State Foundation; and Golden Gate University.

John LeckroneJohn Leckrone, as Director of Corporate Development for Adobe, leads Corporate Development activities for Adobe’s Digital Media business including organic growth strategy, M&A, and venture investments.

Additionally, John acts as Managing Director of Adobe Ventures, the venture capital arm of Adobe. With over a decade of experience in this role, John has overseen dozens of new investments and liquidity events, and has been actively involved with the Boards of more than 30 private technology companies.

Prior to his current role, John served as Group Product Manager overseeing growth areas for Adobe Acrobat and PDF. John came to Adobe after serving as Business Development Manager for Netscape Communications and building the base of his operational expertise at Ford Motor Company in a six-year management development program focused on sales, marketing, and operations.

John earned a BA in Economics from UCLA, and an MBA from the University of Michigan Ross School of Business where he was a Ross Scholar. He maintains an active role in his community, with a primary focus on youth development.


Bill Ring is senior vice president and regional director at Capital Group Private Client Services in San Francisco. Previously he was managing director at Robertson Stephens Investment Management, managing director and national sales manager at Wells Fargo Trust Company, senior vice president of the Asset Management Group at Wells Fargo Private Bank, and from 1981-1987 he was a running back with the San Francisco 49ers.

Lata Krishnan ShahLata Krishnan Shah is the Chair of the American India Foundation (AIF) ( since being involved in its founding in 2001. AIF is a premier foundation with a long-term commitment to accelerating social and economic development in India and strengthening the bonds between the US and India. AIF is chaired by President Clinton and includes luminaries from the community on the Board. AIF has three offices - Silicon Valley, New York and India. 

Lata is the Chief Financial Officer of Shah Capital Partners, a leading mid-market Technology Private Equity fund that was founded in 2003. Shah Capital Partners has over $300 Million of committed funds under management. Lata is also a Board member of the Silicon Valley Bank Financial Group. Previously in 1989, Lata co-founded SMART Modular Technologies, Inc. and served as its Chief Financial Officer. In 1999, SMART merged with Solectron Corporation in a transaction valued at over US$2 Billion. Prior to SMART, she held corporate accounting and finance positions at Montgomery Securities, Arthur Anderson & Company LLP, and Hill Vellacott & Company in London, England. 

Lata received a Bachelor of Science degree with honors from the London School of Economics and is a member of the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales. 

Her community activities include: Board Chair of the American India Foundation, Board member of The Commonwealth Club and Fellow of the American Leadership Forum. 

Tad TaubeTad Taube serves as president of the Koret Foundation and chairman of Taube Philanthropies. He is chairman and founder of the Woodmont Companies, a diversified real estate investment and management organization. He was chairman and CEO of Koracorp Industries (successor to Koret of California) from 1973 until its merger with Levi Strauss in 1979. He has served as trustee of the University of Notre Dame de Namur, the University of San Francisco, and as governor of The Hebrew University in Jerusalem.

At Stanford University, Taube was founder in 1986 and since then chairman of the advisory board for the Taube Center for Jewish Studies. He is a member of the Board of Overseers of the Hoover Institution and serves on its Executive Committee and was founder and past chairman of the advisory board of Stanford’s Institute of Economic Policy Research (SIEPR). Taube is past chair of the Stanford Athletic Board. His involvement in Stanford Athletics includes his family’s principal gift to Stanford’s Taube Family Tennis Stadium and his significant gift in support of Stanford’s new Football Stadium.

Taube was a founder of the United States Football League (USFL) in 1982 and was principal owner of the Oakland Invaders football franchise.

A member of the Lincoln Club, the Commonwealth Club and numerous other civic organizations, Taube has received a number of prestigious service awards and recognitions, including the Alexis de Tocqueville Society Award presented by United Way in 1998, the Scopus Award from the Hebrew University in 1985, and an honorary doctorate degree from Pacific Graduate School of Psychology in 1995. In 2004, the President of the Republic of Poland awarded Tad Taube Poland’s highest civilian medal – The Commander’s Cross. In 2007, he was named Honorary Consul of the Republic of Poland. Taube is lead donor, Co-Chairman, Distinguished Benefactors Committee of the Museum of the History of Polish Jews.  He successfully promoted a Sister City relationship between San Francisco and Krakow/Poland. The official signing ceremony took place on July 3, 2009 in Krakow. In 2007, he received the Corporate Citizenship Award from the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars and was recognized by Forward among the 50 most influential Jews in the American Jewish Community. In 2011, Taube received the Commonwealth Club Distinguished Citizen Award. Taube was inducted into the Stanford Real Estate Hall of Fame in November 2014.

Taube holds a Bachelor of Science degree and a Master of Science degree from Stanford University and served as an officer in the US Air Force.

He is married to Dianne Panos Taube.

Charles Travers graduated from the University of California, class of ’57, with a Bachelor of Science degree in civil engineering and a commission in the U.S. Army. He is a life-member of the American Society of Civil Engineers. He spent 17 years with Chevron in the Engineering Department and Pipeline Operations and since 1977 has owned and operated commercial and industrial real estate, primarily in the East Bay. 

Travers has been very active in supporting the University of California Athletic Department, particularly football, and the Department of Political Science. He is continuing the work of his father, Col. Charles Travers, in the Ethics and Accountability in Government program. He has been a member of the Commonwealth Club for more than 40 years and is currently serving as a board member. 

Travers has been married to Elizabeth Hall, for more than 50 years and has two children, Nancy and Todd. His activities include mountain biking, construction building, and the studies of economics and investing. He also enjoys spending time with his five grandchildren and walking his dogs.

Jed YorkJed York became CEO of the San Francisco 49ers in 2010. His promotion of Trent Baalke to general manager and the hiring of Jim Harbaugh as head coach vaulted the 49ers into the playoffs in year one and into the Super Bowl in year two. York is spearheading the construction of Levi’s Stadium, set to open in 2014. 

York graduated from Notre Dame with degrees in finance and history. He sits on the board of Tipping Point Community and the Common Wealth Club. He and his wife, Danielle, have a son, Jaxon. 

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