Upcoming Events

Fri 3/3

Image - 29th Annual Distinguished Citizen Gala

29th Annual Distinguished Citizen Gala

Date: Fri, March 03, 2017
Time: 5:00 PM
Celebrate and show your support for the Club's vital work

The Commonwealth Club’s 114th Annual Dinner and 29th Annual Distinguished Citizen Gala is a dual celebration, reflecting on the last year of the Club’s events and accomplishments, as well as honoring outstanding members of the community who exemplify the Club’s values by presenting them with the Distinguished Citizen Award, an award reserved for those whose professional and humanitarian endeavors and accomplishments are worthy of recognition and celebration.

Recipients of this award have included local and global leaders whose contributions to society have had a positive and enduring impact, and who embody the qualities that make an individual’s life worthy of admiration: their generosity, their ability to inspire and their desire to make a difference in our world today and in our future tomorrow.

The recipients of the 2017 Distinguished Citizen Award are:
John R. Farmer, Former Chairman of The Commonwealth Club Board of Governors, and Former Goldman Sachs General Partner
Lata Krishnan, Chief Financial Officer of Shah Capital Partners
Alex Macgillivray, Deputy United States Chief Technology Officer in the Obama Administration
Megan Smith, United States Chief Technology Officer in the Obama Administration
Bernard J. Tyson., Chief Executive Officer and Chairman of Kaiser Permanente

The Distinguished Citizen Gala will include a live auction, entertainment, and dinner catered by the Fairmont Hotel. The gala is The Commonwealth Club’s largest annual fundraiser, which raises funds to support the Club’s dynamic programming year-round.

Tue 3/7

image - President Donald Trump

President Trump and the Future of U.S.-Asia Relations: A View from the West Coast

Date: Tue, March 07, 2017
Time: 6:30 PM
International developments

David D. Arnold, President, The Asia Foundation
Dr. Gloria C. Duffy, President and CEO, The Commonwealth Club of California
N. Bruce Pickering, Vice President of Global Programs, Asia Society, and Executive Director, Asia Society Northern California
Jane Wales, CEO, World Affairs Council of Northern California and Global Philanthropy Forum; Vice President, The Aspen Institute
Mina Kim, News Anchor, KQED—Moderator

Join Asia Society, The Asia Foundation, The Commonwealth Club, and the World Affairs Council for a unique dialogue featuring the leaders of four of the Bay Area’s most prestigious public affairs and non-profit organizations, who will look at the presidency of Donald J. Trump and what it will mean for America’s relationship with Asia and the world. Held within the first 100 days of the Trump Administration, the dialogue will examine more closely a persistent divide between California and the Bay Area, and the rest of the country, on the future direction of this nation.

The dialogue will examine how the Bay Area and the state more broadly view America’s relationship with Asia, as well as its place in the world on global issues such as trade, security and climate change. What are some of the primary issues of importance to the Bay Area—politically, economically, culturally—as it relates to U.S.-Asia relations and are they similar or different from the rest of the country? Have the state and the region evolved differently from the rest of the country in how they perceive America’s relationship with Asia and the world, and why? Is it demographics, geography?

Wed 3/8

Image - Albright
This event is Sold Out

An Evening with Madeleine Albright and Katie Albright

Date: Wed, March 08, 2017
Time: 7:00 PM
A discussion on American politics in 2017

Madeleine Albright, Former U.S. Secretary of State under President Clinton
Katie Albright, Executive Director, San Francisco Child Abuse Prevention Center
In conversation with Ellen Tauscher, Former Representative, California’s 10th Congressional District; Former Undersecretary of State for Arms Control and International Security; Member, Commonwealth Club Board of Governors

A Generational Conversation on the Challenges Confronting America

Join us on International Women’s Day for a special conversation with former U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright and her daughter, Katie Albright, attorney and executive director of the San Francisco Child Abuse Prevention Center. In the divided America of 2017—with issues of immigration, civil rights, gender equality, the role of government domestically and the place of the U.S. in the world at stake—come hear a wide-ranging dialogue with two prominent Americans on the greatest challenges facing all of us and the possible solutions to these challenges.

Mon 3/13

Go to Longevity Explorers Discussion Group: Better Aging. You. Your Parents.

Longevity Explorers Discussion Group: Better Aging. You. Your Parents.

Date: Mon, March 13, 2017
Time: 2:00 PM
Discussion group

Dr. Richard G. Caro, Facilitator

This regular discussion group explores new and emerging solutions to the challenges of growing older. Not only do we uncover interesting new products at the intersection of aging and technology, we also conduct a series of ongoing deep-dive discussions into topics such as brain health, apps for seniors, hearing and wearables for seniors. The results of our discussions will be shared with a larger community of older adults interested in improving their quality of life through our partner in this initiative, Tech-enhanced Life, PBC. The discussions are facilitated by Dr. Richard Caro, whom many of you have heard speak at prior Grownups forum events.

Wed 3/15

Image - design
This event is Sold Out

Designing Your Life with Bill Burnett and Dave Evans

Date: Wed, March 15, 2017
Time: 7:00 PM
Try out "life design"

Bill Burnett, Executive Director, Design Program, Stanford University; Co-author, Designing Your Life: How to Build a Well-Lived, Joyful Life
Dave Evans, Adjunct Lecturer, Product Design Program, Stanford University; Management Consultant; Co-founder, Electronic Arts; Co-author, Designing Your Life: How to Build a Well-Lived, Joyful Life
Suzanne Gibbs Howard, Partner, IDEO; Founder and Dean, IDEO U—Moderator

Are you ready to design the life you’ve always envisioned in your head? Let Bill Burnett and Dave Evans show you the way! The Stanford professors and New York Times #1 best-selling authors of Designing Your Life have spent years teaching life design to Stanford students, and are excited to share their experience with INFORUM. Design-thinking principles aren’t just for products and space! Bill and Dave will discuss the "many versions of 'you' that exist," teach us all how to think like designers, and help us prototype our way to a more joyful life. Their approach is applicable and fun, much like great design. Be ready to reframe and revamp your creative thinking.

VIP Opportunity! Prior to the conversation, from 5:45-6:45 pm, Bill and Dave will lead an intimate VIP experience: the Life Design Energy Workshop. The workshop will include an energy exercise and mini-Designing Your Life workshop focused on energy, for those who want the opportunity to try out some of Bill and Dave’s techniques for life design firsthand. Tickets are first-come, first-served, very limited and are non-refundable. To join the waiting list if we are able to release additional seats, please sign up here. We recommend buying a ticket to the general program, as we expect to sell out.

Thu 3/16

Image - Green Film Festival logo

San Francisco Green Film Festival: Film Stories From Your Dinner Plate

Date: Thu, March 16, 2017
Time: 6:00 PM
Celebration of food, film and the arts

Rachel Caplan, CEO, San Francisco Green Film Festival
Mischa Hedges, Director, Of the Sea
Mark Kitchell, Director, Evolution of Organic

Filmmakers are delving into our complex food system with farmers, chefs, food-lovers and campaigners who are challenging the status-quo. Join the San Francisco Green Film Festival and Bay Area filmmakers for a visual feast of films and conversation about the stories that are shaping our eating and healthy sustainable food choices. And a plus! Enjoy a sneak preview of the San Francisco Green Film Festival, Spring 2017, with a celebration of the interaction of food, film and the arts!

Image - students holding banner

Youth in the Streets and in the Courts

Date: Thu, March 16, 2017
Time: 6:30 PM
Students suing for their environment

James Coleman, Senior, South San Francisco High School; Alliance for Climate Education Action Fellow
Lou Helmuth, Deputy Director, Our Children's Trust

President Trump’s bold dismissal of climate change as a legitimate concern is energizing a new generation of teenage activists. Some are marching in the streets. Others are taking the federal and state governments to court, attempting to apply an ancient legal doctrine to the climate fight. It’s a longshot move that has been inching its way through U.S. courts for years and is now moving forward in Oregon.

Digital natives are known for short attention spans and thinking that being a “clicktivist” qualifies as civic engagement. Do teenagers have a chance to be heard and make an impact on an issue so complex and massive as the world’s energy system? How are young advocates using social media to advance their cause? Join us for a conversation about kids confronting powerful institutions and finding their own power and voices. 

High school students who attend this event are eligible to apply for Climate One’s $12,000 Students on Ice scholarship. Greg Dalton created Climate One after traveling to the Arctic, and to pay it forward we now send a Bay Area high school student to the Arctic every year. The winning student joins 40 other youths on an ocean voyage from Canada to Greenland, where they learn about science and indigenous cultures. More information about this amazing journey will be given at the event, which students must attend in order to apply. Here’s a video of last year’s Climate One Arctic scholars.

Mon 3/20

Image - Rhodessa Jones

Rhodessa Jones and Cultural Odyssey's Medea Project: Theater for Incarcerated Women and HIV Circle

Date: Mon, March 20, 2017
Time: 12:00 PM
What art and performance can teach about women and HIV

Rhodessa Jones, Co-Artistic Director, Cultural Odyssey; Actress; Teacher; Writer; Director, Medea Project: Theater for Incarcerated Women and HIV Circle; Former Visiting Artist in Residence, University of California, Berkeley Black Theater Workshop; Visiting Professor at St. Mary’s College, Moraga, California; Spring 2014 Interdisciplinary Artist in Residence, College of Letters and Science and the School of Human Ecology, University of Wisconsin-Madison 

In 1989, on the basis of material developed while conducting classes at the San Francisco County Jail, Rhodessa Jones created “Big Butt Girls, Hard Headed Women,” a performance piece based on the lives of the incarcerated women she encountered. Based on this observation, Jones founded The Medea Project: Theater for Incarcerated Women to explore whether an arts-based approach could help reduce the numbers of women returning to jail.

In 2008, The Medea Project: Theater for Incarcerated Women joined forces with UCSF’s Women’s HIV Clinic to create theater that explores what it means to be living with the virus in the 21st century. For the past seven years, The Medea Project: HIV Circle has performed shows all around the United States, sharing the truth and the stories of what it means to be female and infected or affected.

Tue 3/21

Image - Nancy Pfund speaks about investing

Put Your Money Where Your Mouth Is: Nancy Pfund on Impact Investing

Date: Tue, March 21, 2017
Time: 6:30 PM
How money can matter

Nancy Pfund, Founder, DBL Partners
David Bank; Editor, Impact Alpha—Moderator

Put Your Money Where Your Mouth Is a series of conversations supported by Bank of the West.

Whether you’re an investor, an entrepreneur or a consumer, we all make decisions about how to spend our money every day. How do you decide where to spend, and how to make the biggest impact through what products, companies, efforts and issues you support?

Join Nancy Pfund, founder of DBL Partners (Double Bottom Line), in conversation with David Bank of Impact Alpha, as they demystify the world of impact investing. For starters, what is impact investing? It turns out that financial success can and does go hand-in-hand with social change, and DBL Partners is part of a growing movement demonstrating this possibility every day. DBL Partners' approach to venture capital is two-pronged: They achieve high venture capital returns, and they also incorporate a second bottom line by working with companies they invest in to create economic, social and environmental impact. Two birds with one stone: profit and positive impact.

Nancy and her team are innovators who are setting the standard for other investors and companies to consider success beyond the single-profit bottom line. Today, organizations such as SolarCity, Pandora and Patagonia build social impact into their business plans from the very beginning because of leadership by impact investors, and the ripple effect is real. Who says your dollars can’t count for double? Come learn how impact investing is changing the game when it comes to making money matter.

Join us afterward for a reception—enjoy a glass of wine or a snack while recapping what you just learned and meeting new people!

Thu 3/23

Image - San Francisco Ferry Building

Waterfront Walking Tour

Date: Thu, March 23, 2017
Time: 1:45 PM
Walking tour

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 tour will give you a lively overview of the historic significance of this neighborhood and a close look at the ongoing development.

Image - The White House

Trump's First 100 Days: Part Two

Date: Thu, March 23, 2017
Time: 6:30 PM
Evaluating the crucial first few months of the new administration

Panelists TBA

Marisa Lagos, Reporter, California Politics and Government, KQED—Moderator

How will President Trump’s 100-day action plan impact our domestic and foreign affairs, health care, education, environment, immigration, economic and trade policies? Who are the new people leading the country and how will they impact public policy? What role will all forms of media play as they cover the new administration? Join The Commonwealth Club and KQED for part two of a four-part series of programs that address the first 100 days of the Trump administration and how this period will shape America over the next four years and beyond. 

Mon 3/27

Go to The Spring 2017 Report on the Sierra Nevada's Rain, Snowpack, Trees, Water, Ecosystems and Climate Change

The Spring 2017 Report on the Sierra Nevada's Rain, Snowpack, Trees, Water, Ecosystems and Climate Change

Date: Mon, March 27, 2017
Time: 6:00 PM
Environmental check-in

Scott Tangenberg, Acting Forest Supervisor, Stanislaus National Forest
Patrick Koepele, Executive Director, Tuolumne River Trust
Michael Carlin, Deputy General Manager, San Francisco Public Utilities Commission
Bob Kingman, Assistant Executive Officer, Sierra Nevada Conservancy

Join our distinguished panel for an up-to-date report on the Sierra Nevada mountains, habitats, water, rivers, trees, ground cover and the harsh economic impacts caused by fire, degradation and the cycle of climate changes. After the 2016-17 winter of rain and snowfall, where are we now in the climate cycle and the cycle of destruction, renewal and regrowth for our mountains, valleys, rivers and economies?

Image - P.J. O'Rourke
This event is Sold Out

P.J. O'Rourke: Has America Gone Crazy?

Date: Mon, March 27, 2017
Time: 6:30 PM
Making sense of the 2016 election

P.J. O’Rourke, H.L. Mencken Research Fellow, Cato Institute; Author, How the Hell Did This Happen?: The Election of 2016; Twitter
Melissa Caen, Political Analyst, CBS San Francisco; Twitter —Moderator 

P.J. O'Rourke says no comedian could have written the joke that the recent election cycle has been. As celebrated political satirist, journalist, and diehard Republican O’Rourke put it in his endorsement of Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton, “America is experiencing the most severe outbreak of mass psychosis since the Salem witch trials of 1692.” Come hear O'Rourke's uniquely humorous take on the election, on Donald Trump (whom he calls "Landlord of the Flies") and on America in 2017.

Tue 3/28

Image - Marty Brounstein

The Courage and Compassion to Do the Right Thing

Date: Tue, March 28, 2017
Time: 6:00 PM

Marty Brounstein, Author, Two Among the Righteous Few: A Story of Courage in the Holocaust

This program is part of our Good Lit series, underwritten by the Bernard Osher Foundation.

Come hear a true interfaith story of courage, compassion and rescue during the Holocaust. A Catholic couple in the Netherlands, despite great risk and danger, helped save the lives of at least two dozen Jews from certain death during World War II. Brounstein will also explain the meaningful personal connection that inspires him to tell and retell the story of their heroic actions.

Image - Chris Hayes

MSNBC’s Chris Hayes: The Two Americas

Date: Tue, March 28, 2017
Time: 7:00 PM
The colony and the nation

Chris Hayes, MSNBC Host, "All in with Chris Hayes"; Editor at Large, The Nation; Author, A Colony in a Nation; Twitter

Emmy Award–winning news anchor and New York Times best-selling author Chris Hayes argues that there are really two Americas: a colony and a nation. He says America likes to tell itself that it inhabits a post-racial world, but nearly every empirical measure—wealth, unemployment, incarceration, school segregation—reveals that racial inequality hasn’t improved since 1968. Hayes contends that our country has fractured in two: the colony and the nation. In the nation, we venerate the law. In the colony, we obsess over order, fear trumps civil rights, and aggressive policing resembles occupation. He asks how and why did Americans build a system where conditions in Ferguson and West Baltimore mirror those that sparked the American Revolution? Come hear Hayes’ insights on the threats to American democracy and how to preserve justice.

Wed 3/29

Image - Georgia

Inside the Country of Georgia: Meet Leaders Who Advocate Democracy on Russia’s Border

Date: Wed, March 29, 2017
Time: 12:00 PM
Learn about the country of Georgia

David Bakradze, Georgian Ambassador to the United States; Former State Minister, European and Euro-Atlantic Integration
Keti Bochorishvili, Deputy Minister of Economy and Sustainability
Dr. David Saganelidze, Head, Georgian Partnership Fund (Sovereign Wealth Fund); Former Majority Leader, Georgian Parliament; Member, Georgian Dream Party
Mikheil Janelidze, Minister of Foreign Affairs, Georgia (Invited)
Dr. Gloria Duffy, President and CEO, The Commonwealth Club—Moderator

Located in the Caucasus region of Eurasia, Georgia is bordered to the west by the Black Sea, to the north by Russia, and to the south by Turkey and Armenia. Though formerly part of the former Soviet Union, it declared independence in 1991, and for more than 25 years, its government has been a representative democracy.

In 2008, Georgia had a five-day military confrontation with Russia over two provinces supported by Russia, which ended in a cease-fire agreement. Today, Georgia seeks strong economic ties with Silicon Valley and the U.S. Come hear from Georgia’s government representatives about this unique country as well as their thoughts on Russia, the region and the future of the Euro-Atlantic Alliance.

Image - LGBTQ photo

LGBTQ Rights: What's at Stake?

Date: Wed, March 29, 2017
Time: 6:30 PM
Religious freedom laws and minority rights

Mia Satya, Community Organizer, Social Justice Advocate, 2016 San Francisco Pride Grand Marshal
Judge LaDoris Hazzard Cordell (Ret.), Chair, Santa Clara County Jail Commission—Moderator 
Additional Panelists TBA

What are the implications of potential executive orders and religious freedom legislation on the LGBTQ community and beyond? Hear from a diverse panel of leaders, including Mia Satya, community organizer, on what lies ahead in the current administration. This conversation is in partnership with San Francisco Pride.

Mon 4/3

Image - Waiting for Electricity

Reading Californians Book Discussion Group: Waiting for the Electricity by Christina Nichol

Date: Mon, April 03, 2017
Time: 6:00 PM
Book discussion group

Waiting for the Electricity by Christina Nichol begins in the republic of Georgia. The novel is about a humble maritime lawyer, Slims Achmed Makahvili. The Communists are long gone, but there are no jobs in the cities—and when there are jobs, employees aren’t compensated. When they are compensated, it’s because the jobs are . . . not strictly scrupulous.

Makahvili discovers an application for a small internship program sponsored by Hillary Clinton. His letters to her describe his eagerness to bring efficiency and opportunity to his homeland, replacing his friends’ and relatives’ decadence, lethargy and unsavory business practices. After Makahvili is chosen for the internship and finally arrives in America—in a utopian San Francisco—he decides his loud, bickering family and his anguished, joyful country no longer seem so grim.

The book has been described by author Norman Rush as a “triumphant, sustained, comic performance.” He adds: “I can’t recall a contemporary American novel anywhere near as funny.” The Wall Street Journal describes the book as “endearing and dryly hilarious.”

Tue 4/4

Image - Grace Cathedral

Nob Hill Walking Tour

Date: Tue, April 04, 2017
Time: 1:45 PM
Walking tour

Explore one of San Francisco’s 44 hills, and one of its original “Seven Hills”. Because of great views and its central position, Nob Hill became an exclusive enclave of the rich and famous on the west coast who built large mansions in the neighborhood. This included prominent tycoons such as Leland Stanford, and other members of the Big Four. Highlights include the history of four landmark hotels: The Fairmont, Mark Hopkins, Stanford Court, and Huntington Hotel. Visit the city’s largest house of worship, Grace Cathedral, and discover architectural tidbits and anecdotes about the railroad barons and silver kings. A true San Francisco experience of elegance, urbanity, scandals and fabulous views.

Image - Jane Mayer

Jane Mayer: Behind Dark Money

Date: Tue, April 04, 2017
Time: 7:00 PM
An examination of conservative political financial power

Jane Mayer, Staff Writer, The New Yorker; Author, Dark Money: The Hidden History of the Billionaires Behind the Rise of the Radical Right; Twitter

Who are the people bankrolling our political system?

Mayer takes us behind the scenes and exposes the powerful group of individuals who are shaping our country. She traces the billions of dollars spent by the Kochs, the Scaifes, the Olins, and the Bradleys and uncovers their influences on policies related to climate change, the economy and more.

Mayer also discusses the results of the 2016 election and what the future might entail if these elite billionaires continue to drive decisions at the state and federal levels.