Upcoming Events

Mon 11/10

Image - Umpire or Empire? The History and Future of American Leadership

Umpire or Empire? The History and Future of American Leadership

Date: Mon, November 10, 2014
Time: 6:00 PM
Monday Night Philosophy

Elizabeth Cobbs Hoffman, Dwight Stanford Professor of American Foreign Relations, San Diego State University; National Fellow, Hoover Institution, Stanford University

Monday Night Philosophy dives into the history of U.S. foreign policy. Most historians believe the U.S. is an empire; the past two presidents and most of the public disagree. What does it matter? Hoffman offers a challenging new interpretation of America's past with important implications for the way forward.

Wed 11/12

Image - Jamie Metzl: Are China and the U.S. Headed for a Genetic Arms Race?

Jamie Metzl: Are China and the U.S. Headed for a Genetic Arms Race?

Date: Wed, November 12, 2014
Time: 12:00 PM
Novelist; Former U.S. Security Official

Jamie Metzl, Novelist; Former U.S. Security Official

Novelist and Asia expert Jamie Metzl's new novel, Genesis Code, tells of a future genetic arms race between China and the United States. It is fiction – for now – but Metzl, who worked in the Clinton National Security Council and State Department and is the former executive vice president of the Global Asia Society, will discuss how the U.S.-China rivalry, marked by tensions in the South and East China Seas, in cyberspace, outer space and elsewhere, is heating up around the world. With the science of human genetic engineering rapidly advancing, there is a significant possibility that today's science fiction will be tomorrow's reality and that great power interests might soon dictate the course of genetically modified human evolution.

Image - The Power of Community - Senior Cohousing

The Power of Community - Senior Cohousing

Date: Wed, November 12, 2014
Time: 5:15 PM
 Charles Durrett, AIA; Architect; Author

Charles DurrettAIA; Architect; Author, The Senior Cohousing Handbook: A Community Approach to Independent Living; Co-author, A Contemporary Approach to Housing Ourselves

Today we can text our sibling to find out what they are having for lunch in Paris, but we don’t know the name of our next-door neighbor nor his or her birthday – unless you’ve looked up him or her on PoliceReport.com – because shouldn’t we know who our neighbor is? It’s only prudent to be precautious. Learn how seniors are countering the pathologies in our society today by affecting their personal lives and collective lives and affecting society positively by planning new cohousing communities. They bring environmental ethics, justice, village life – community to the table. A real work by real people with real values and real lives who make an environment that responds to their real needs. How romantic is community? Very; everyone is talking about it in the abstract. How realistic is community? Very; there are lots of folks around North America who have decided that this important complement in our lives – community – needs to be revived. Come learn about this momentous social movement from a prime mover.


Thu 11/13

Go to Leadership: The Power Behind the Throne

Leadership: The Power Behind the Throne

Date: Thu, November 13, 2014
Time: 6:00 PM
Richard Hytner, Author, Consiglieri: Leading from the Shadows

Richard Hytner, Deputy Chairman, Saatchi & Saatchi; Adjunct Associate Professor of Marketing, London Business School; Author, Consiglieri: Leading from the Shadows

The key to success lies in getting to the top, right? Wrong! It’s time to celebrate the second-in-command. These are the V.P’s, COOs, First Lieutenants and First Violins whose influence can determine the fate of countries and companies: Merlin to King Arthur, Al Gore to Bill Clinton, Rasputin to the Russian royal family. Learn how influence, authority and power can be found in much more interesting places than behind the CEO’s desk.

Fri 11/14

Image - Are Professional Athletes Underpaid? Money and the Culture of Profession

Are Professional Athletes Underpaid? Money and the Culture of Professional Sports

Date: Fri, November 14, 2014
Time: 12:00 PM
Discussion with Leland Faust and Duane Kuiper

Leland Faust, Founder and Chairman, CSI Capital Management; Member, Sporting News Top 100 Most Powerful People in Sports
Duane Kuiper, Emmy Award-winning Play-by-play Announcer, San Francisco Giants; Former Major League Baseball Player, Cleveland Indians, San Francisco Giants
Vida Blue, Former Pitcher, Oakland A's, SF Giants; Cy Young Award, MVP, Six-Time All Star
Kevin O’Malley, President, Tech Talk/Studio – Moderator

Get an inside look at how money shapes the culture of professional sports and influence decisions both on and off the field. Learn from the insiders how the mixture of entertainment and money results in today’s complex professional sports industry and the range of players’ salaries.

Mon 11/17

Image - Up the Ladder: Women Pursuing Careers in Science and Technology

Up the Ladder: Women Pursuing Careers in Science and Technology

Date: Mon, November 17, 2014
Time: 6:00 PM
A personal discussion about working in male-dominated fields.

Hilary K. Seligman, M.D., MAS, Associate Professor in Residence, Departments of Medicine and of Epidemiology and Biostatistics, UCSF
Diane Wara, M.D., Professor of Pediatrics, UCSF
Eva Cole, Student, Holy Names High School, Oakland; Alumna, Girls Who Code
Sara Seims, Ph.D., Senior Fellow, Population and Reproductive Health Program, Packard Foundation – Moderator

How and why do women decide to pursue careers in science and technology? What is the reaction of their family, friends, teachers and others? This panel of three women at three different points in their careers – early, middle and advanced – will discuss the experiences that have supported and challenged their career pursuits. Come learn from their stories and hear ideas about how to attract more women to areas of science where they are still greatly under-represented, such as engineering and mathematics.

Image - John Cleese - Monty Python Actor and Comedian

John Cleese - Monty Python Actor and Comedian

Date: Mon, November 17, 2014
Time: 7:00 PM
A grand tour of his ascent in the entertainment world.

John Cleese, Actor; Writer; Producer; Author, So, Anyway…

Join Cleese as he takes us on a grand tour of his ascent in the entertainment world, from his humble beginnings in a sleepy English town to the pinnacle of comedy and worldwide success.

With his signature characters – the Minister of Silly Walks and the owner (and would-be returner) of a dead parrot – Cleese's work with Monty Python’s Flying Circus and Fawlty Towers has become legendary. His hit films Monty Python and the Holy GrailLife of Brian and A Fish Called Wanda, and his memorable roles in James Bond and Shrek have put him in a class of his own. From his hilarious tweets and new memoir, hear more from this towering comedic genius.

Tue 11/18

Image - Progress and Hope: Restoring the Mighty Colorado River and Delta

Progress and Hope: Restoring the Mighty Colorado River and Delta

Date: Tue, November 18, 2014
Time: 6:00 PM
The challenges and progress in the Colorado River’s struggle to reach the ocean.

James Redford, Chair, Redford Center Board; Producer, Watershed
John Shepard, Co-Interim CEO and Senior Advisor, Sonoran Institute
Jill Tidman, Executive Director, Redford Center; Producer, Watershed
Francesca Vietor, Commissioner, San Francisco Public Utilities Commission; Program Director, San Francisco Foundation

For more than 6 million years, the Colorado River has served as the lifeblood of the American West, including what is now California. Today the river runs dry 70 miles before it reaches its delta and the sea. However, in May 2014, the river reached the delta and sea briefly for the first time in decades. Learn how Raise the River is marshaling support for the Colorado and raising awareness to restore a great national treasure by bringing back life to the delta region’s wetlands and marshes, and provide much-needed help to western communities in the United States and Mexico. Join us for a discussion on the challenges and progress in the Colorado River’s struggle to reach the ocean.

Wed 11/19

Image - Autobiography of Mark Twain, Volume 2: The Difficulty of Speaking the Tr

Autobiography of Mark Twain, Volume 2: The Difficulty of Speaking the Truth

Date: Wed, November 19, 2014
Time: 12:00 PM

Harriet Elinor Smith, Editor

Mark Twain wanted to write a completely candid autobiography, without "shirkings of the truth," so he decided to speak from the grave 100 years after his death. The Mark Twain Papers Project at the Bancroft Library at UC Berkeley has fulfilled that desire. Editor Smith will discuss Twain's numerous observations about the difficulty of speaking the truth, and the strategies he adopted to remove his inhibitions, illustrating her talk with passages he suppressed during his lifetime. Come hear Mark Twain's "whole, frank mind" highlighted by his characteristic blend of humor and ire.

Image - Waterfront Walk

Waterfront Walk

Date: Wed, November 19, 2014
Time: 1:45 PM
Explore the neighborhood surrounding the Club's future home.

Join Rick Evans for his new walking tour exploring the historic sites of the waterfront neighborhood that surrounds the location of the future Commonwealth Club headquarters. Hear the dynamic stories of the entrepreneurs, controversial artists and labor organizers who created this recently revitalized neighborhood. This two-hour tour will give you a lively overview of the historic significance of this neighborhood and a close look at the ongoing development.

Go to Socrates Café

Socrates Café

Date: Wed, November 19, 2014
Time: 6:00 PM
Discussion of philosophical issues

The Humanities Forum brings Socrates Café to The Commonwealth Club. It will be held every third Wednesday evening for the discussion of philosophical issues. At each monthly meeting the group's facilitator, Bob Enteen, will invite participants to suggest topics, which are then voted on. The person who proposed the most popular topic will briefly explain why she or he considers the subject interesting and important. An open discussion will follow, ending with a summary. Everyone is welcome to attend.

Image - Increased Patient Communication Improves Health

Power to the Patient: A Survivor's Perspective on Health Care

Date: Wed, November 19, 2014
Time: 6:00 PM
Technologies to allow people to take an active role in their health-care journey.

Michael O’Neil, Jr., Founder & Chief Executive Officer, GetWellNetwork

An informed patient is a better patient. As a cancer survivor, Michael O’Neil, Jr., founder and CEO of GetWellNetwork, focuses on the importance of engaging, educating and empowering patients in the management of their own health.

Following his challenging personal experience, O’Neil was motivated to change the role of the patient and introduce a new approach to the delivery of health care. Founded on the idea that a person should never be on the outside looking in when it comes to their own health, GetWellNetwork builds technology that connects patients and families with caregivers, and enables people to take an active role in their health-care journey – whether they’re sick or well.

Image - Andy Cohen: The Star-Studded Life

Andy Cohen: The Star-Studded Life

Date: Wed, November 19, 2014
Time: 6:30 PM
Host, “Watch What Happens: Live”

Andy Cohen, Host, “Watch What Happens: Live”; Author, The Andy Cohen Diaries; Executive Producer, The Real Housewives Franchise

“My new book is my reality show, in print.” – Andy Cohen

The man who made a career as a prince of pop-culture strikes again with his new book, The Andy Cohen Diaries: A Deep Look at a Shallow Year, a follow-up to his New York Times best seller. Imagine a day in the life of Andy Cohen. It’s busy. It’s exciting. It’s dramatic. Andy’s new book will chronicle his day-to-day life for a single year, from behind-the-scenes looks at “Watch What Happens: Live” to his favorite day-time hang-out spots to late nights with wild celebrity friends. Cohen will tell all about such celebrities as Lady Gaga and such events as Oscar weekend. Get an inside look at the life of one of the most exciting men in show business when Cohen joins INFORUM to talk book, show and life.

Thu 11/20

Image - A Toast to the 2014 Wine Harvest, Sustainable Practices and Pairings in

A Toast to the 2014 Wine Harvest, Sustainable Practices and Pairings in California Wine

Date: Thu, November 20, 2014
Time: 6:00 PM
A discussion with California vintners.

Steve Lohr, Chairman & CEO, J. Lohr Vineyards & Wines
Karl Wente, Winemaker, Wente Vineyards
Allison Jordan, Executive Director, California Sustainable Wine Growing Alliance
Janet Fletcher, Journalist; Author, Down to Earth, A Seasonable Tour of Sustainable Winegrowing in California – Moderator

California vintners and growers have broadly embraced sustainable and other green wine-growing practices to protect and preserve our signature Golden State industry. Plans and decisions made throughout the wine-growing year reflect a deep commitment to environmental stewardship, social responsibility and the desire to pass land businesses on to future generations.

Join Janet Fletcher and a distinguished panel of vintners and experts as they discuss sustainable wine growing and examine the stories of California vintners and growers across the state. After the program, join the panel to enjoy wine tasting and conversation featuring wines discussed by the panel and in Down to Earth.

Fri 11/21

Image - Transforming California's State Parks: A Blueprint for a Sustainable Fut

Transforming California's State Parks: A Blueprint for a Sustainable Future

Date: Fri, November 21, 2014
Time: 12:00 PM
California's 280-unit park system faces challenges.

Lance Conn, Co-Chair, Parks Forward Commission

California's magnificent 280-unit park system faces significant challenges. Declining budgets have led to scaled-back services and a long list of maintenance needs, while outdated administrative systems, technology and processes impede park staff’s ability to effectively manage and protect the parks’ natural and cultural resources. Hear about a just-released report by the Parks Forward Commission that recommends sweeping changes to tackle these issues and ensure the sustainability of our state parks for future generations.

Conn is a Bay Area businessman and conservationist. He serves on the boards of directors for Charter Communications and the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, and serves as a member of the advisory council for Truckee Donner Land Trust.

Mon 11/24

Image - Middle East Discussion Group

Middle East Discussion Group

Date: Mon, November 24, 2014
Time: 5:30 PM

Make your voice heard in an enriching, provocative and fun discussion with fellow Club members as you weigh in on events shaping the face of the Middle East. Each month, the Middle East Member-Led Forum hosts an informal roundtable discussion on a topic frequently suggested by recent headlines. After a brief introduction, the floor will be open for discussion. All interested members are encouraged to attend. 

Tue 11/25

Image - Mark Schapiro: Carbon Shock – A Tale of Risk and Calculus on the Front L

Mark Schapiro: Carbon Shock – A Tale of Risk and Calculus on the Front Lines of the Disrupted Global Economy

Date: Tue, November 25, 2014
Time: 6:00 PM
Climate change is profoundly shifting the economic ground.

Mark Schapiro, Author; Former Senior Correspondent, Center for Investigative Reporting; Adjunct Professor, UC Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism

Schapiro will take us a journey to the financial frontlines of climate change, where the same chaotic forces reshaping our weather are disrupting our economy. From the agricultural fields of California to the Amazon rainforest, from the export powerhouses of China to the bizarre world of carbon traders, Schapiro tells the story of how profoundly climate change is shifting the economic ground beneath our feet. His tales have a global range to the places where climate change is altering the economic status quo. He explores how some new powers are rising and others are falling as the world struggles to contend with the fundamental economic fact of our time: the rising price of carbon.

Mon 12/1

Image - Week to Week Political Roundtable and Member Social 12/1/14

Week to Week Political Roundtable and Member Social 12/1/14

Date: Mon, December 01, 2014
Time: 6:30 PM
Informative and engaging commentary on political and other major news.

Panelists TBA

At Week to Week, we explore the biggest, most controversial, and sometimes the oddest political issues with expert commentary by panelists who are smart, are civil, and have a good sense of humor. Join our panelists for informative and engaging commentary on political and other major news, audience discussion of the week’s events, and our news quiz!

And come early before the program to meet other smart and engaged individuals and discuss the news over snacks and wine at our member social (open to all attendees).

Tue 12/2

Image - Haiti Five Years Later: Women on the Ground

Haiti Five Years Later: Women on the Ground

Date: Tue, December 02, 2014
Time: 6:30 PM
A panel of powerful women discuss Haiti

Malya Villard-Appolon, Founder of KOFAVIV
Michèle Duvivier Pierre-Louis, Ph.D., Former Prime Minster of Haiti
Nicole Phillips, Esq., Attorney for the Institute for Justice & Democracy in Haiti
Megan Coffee, M.D., Ph.D., Founder of Ti Kay Haiti
Anne-christine d'Adesky, Journalist & Activist – Moderator

Gason konn bouke, men pa fanm.”—in Kreyòl
“Women’s work never ends.”

On January 12, 2010, Haiti was hit by a catastrophic magnitude 7.0 earthquake, killing approximately 150,000 people and crippling the nation. The earthquake and its 52 aftershocks exacerbated longstanding challenges of housing, sanitation, health care and gender violence. Five years later, Haiti is still picking up the pieces, often with women leading the charge. Hear the incredible stories of women on the ground, from Dr. Megan Coffee who went to Haiti to treat earthquake victims and never left, establishing and running a tuberculosis clinic in Port-au-Prince, to Malya Villard, a victim of rape in Haiti who boldly founded and now runs KOFAVIV to uplift victims of sexual violence, despite threats against her life for doing so.

Thu 12/4

Image - John A. Amster: Patents in the Boardroom – The Truth Behind the Headline

John A. Amster: Patents in the Boardroom – The Truth Behind the Headlines

Date: Thu, December 04, 2014
Time: 6:00 PM

John A. AmsterCEO and Co-founder, RPX Corporation

Patents have been big news in recent years. Large electronics rivals have made headlines by waging high-stakes legal battles over infringement of smartphone patents. Bankrupt companies have auctioned off their patent portfolios for hundreds of millions – or even billions – of dollars. The most significant development affecting patents, however, has been the rise of non-practicing entities (NPEs), also known as “patent trolls.” NPEs acquire patents and litigate them to extract license payments or legal settlements from an allegedly infringing company. Operating companies spent nearly $11 billion dealing with NPE litigation in 2012 alone.

RPX CEO and Co-founder Amster will describe how patents have been transformed from legal protection of a novel invention into a major source of operating risk. Today, owners of patents are monetizing their value through costly and inefficient legal processes. The discussion will focus on a different perspective: how patents can and should be transacted using market mechanisms instead, and in the process, save operating companies billions of dollars every year.