Upcoming Events

Thu 2/18

Image - Cigarettes & Tailpipes: Tales of Two Industries

Cigarettes & Tailpipes: Tales of Two Industries

Date: Thu, February 18, 2016
Time: 6:30 PM
Do these legal longshots have a chance?

Lowell Bergman, Investigative Journalist
Stanton Glantz, Director, Center for Tobacco Control Research and Education, University of California San Francisco
Kenneth Kimmell, President, Union of Concerned Scientists
Bill Reilly, Former Administrator, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency; Senior Advisor, TPG Capital

Oil companies have long used a page from tobacco companies' playbook by vigorously denying evidence that using their product as directed causes societal harm. Now the tobacco and oil narratives are getting closer following news that ExxonMobil executives for decades suppressed internal reports about the negative impacts of burning fossil fuels.

A former U.S. Department of Justice lawyer who won a huge racketeering case against tobacco companies says the federal government should investigate whether oil companies colluded to bury evidence of human-caused climate disruption. It’s easy to blame energy suppliers and that may be the right thing to do. But don’t individuals also share responsibility for driving and flying around knowing that we are emitting climate-killing gases? Aren’t we also culpable? A conversation on how oil might be the new tobacco.

A conversation on how oil might be the new tobacco.

Thu 2/25

Image - Waterfront Walking Tour

Waterfront Walking Tour

Date: Thu, February 25, 2016
Time: 1:45 PM

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 - Custers Trials

Custer's Trials

Date: Thu, February 25, 2016
Time: 6:00 PM

T. J. Stiles, Author, Custer's Trials

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

In his biography of George Armstrong Custer, T. J. Stiles—winner of the Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Award—demolishes Custer’s historical caricature by focusing on how he lived, rather than how he died. A celebrity at 23, controversial at 26, Custer immersed himself in the making of the modern United States—as a professional soldier, politician, popular writer, outdoorsman, and financier—yet he could never adapt to the times he helped to create.

Stiles paints an intimate portrait of a volatile public figure, highlighting the women who surrounded him, as he finds surprising new significance in a life that stretched from West Point to Wall Street to the Western frontier. 

Fri 2/26

Image - Rebecca Tinsley

Waging Peace: Why Genocide Keeps Happening

Date: Fri, February 26, 2016
Time: 12:00 PM

Rebecca Tinsley, Human Rights Activist; Author
Michael Pappas, Executive Director, San Francisco Interfaith Council—Moderator

Tinsley, who graduated with a law degree from the London School of Economics and was a political reporter for the BBC will primarily discuss the work of Waging for Peace, a project she started after visiting a Darfur refugee camp at the height of the killing there. She collects evidence of human rights abuses and helps Sudanese dissidents who wish to claim asylum.

Tinsley also started Network for Africa to help survivors of genocide and former child soldiers rebuild their lives. In recognition of her work, President and Mrs. Carter invited Tinsley and her husband Henry, to start the Carter Center in Europe. 

Mon 2/29

Middle East Discussion Group

Date: Mon, February 29, 2016
Time: 5:30 PM

Make your voice heard in an enriching, provocative and fun discussion with Club members as you weigh in on events shaping the face of the Middle East, North Africa and Afghanistan. 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. There will also be a brief planning session.

Tue 3/1

Image - The Commonwealth Club of California logo

The Future of Solar Power

Date: Tue, March 01, 2016
Time: 6:00 PM

Dan Shugar, CEO, NextTracker Corporation

Come hear about the future of the burgeoning solar energy industry from a leader in the field. NextTracker CEO and long-time senior executive in the solar power industry Dan Shugar has spent 28 years advancing renewable energy. As founder and CEO, Shugar has served NexTracker from inception to one of the fastest-growing clean technology companies.

As CEO of Solaria Corp., Shugar led the company through a 5-times annual revenue growth over a three-year period. During his leadership as president of SunPower Corp. and president of PowerLight, he oversaw revenue growth from less than $1 million to over $830 million and was responsible for the completion of more than 500 projects serving commercial, industrial and utility clients worldwide. He has invented various PV system applications, holds multiple U.S. patents and has published over 50 technical papers. Shugar holds a BS in electrical engineering from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute and an MBA from Golden Gate University. 

Image - book cover of Swiped

Michael Finney and Adam Levin: Tips for Protecting Ourselves in the Cyber World

Date: Tue, March 01, 2016
Time: 6:30 PM

Adam Levin, Chairman and Founder, IDT911; Chairman and Co-founder, Credit.com; Author, Swiped: How to Protect Yourself in a World Full of Scammers, Phishers, and Identity Thieves
In conversation with Michael Finney, Consumer Reporter, “7 On Your Side”, KGO San Francisco

With data breaches and identity theft increasingly becoming a fact of life, we need to be more on guard than ever when it comes to money and identity. Adam Levin, a longtime consumer advocate and identity fraud expert, offers his new book Swiped as an essential guide to surviving online security, providing practical information on how to minimize risk, monitor your identity, and manage the damage.

Join Levin as he sits down with consumer reporter Michael Finney to discuss a strategy for dealing with identity theft.

Wed 3/2

Image - Robert Heller

The Unlikely Governor: From the Caves to the Federal Reserve

Date: Wed, March 02, 2016
Time: 6:00 PM

Robert Heller, Former Governor of the Federal Reserve Board; Former President, VISA U.S.A, author, The Unlikely Governor

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

Robert Heller chronicles his journey from the caves and cellars of war-ravaged Germany to the United States and his eventual rise to be a governor of the Federal Reserve Board and president and CEO of VISA USA. Accompanied by never-ending disasters, his career takes him through academia, business and government service as he witnesses the collapse of the international monetary system, the near failure of Bank of America and the most monumental banking crisis in U.S. history. 

Image - Janet Napolitano

UC President Janet Napolitano: What I Care About and Why

Date: Wed, March 02, 2016
Time: 7:00 PM
Spend your evening with our Marin Conversations program

Janet Napolitano, President, University of California; Former U.S. Secretary of Homeland Security; Former Governor, Arizona
Catherine Heenan, News Anchor and Reporter, KRON4-TV, San Francisco

As president of the 10-campus University of California system, Janet Napolitano has launched initiatives to stabilize in-state tuition and achieve financial stability, improve the community college transfer process, achieve carbon neutrality across the UC system by 2025, accelerate the translation of UC research into products and services, focus UC resources on local and global food issues, and strengthen the university’s engagement with its Mexican peer institutions of higher education. She has also implemented the Fair Wage/Fair Work plan, which established a $15 minimum wage for UC employees and contract workers—the first for a public university. Her top priorities are to ensure that UC remains accessible and affordable to Californians and maintains the quality that has made it what many consider to be the best public research university in the world. 

Fri 3/4

Image - Nob Hill Walking Tour

Nob Hill Walking Tour

Date: Fri, March 04, 2016
Time: 1:45 PM

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.

Tue 3/8

Image - The Health Consequences of Social Isolation

The Health Consequences of Social Isolation with Former NFL Player Jonathan Martin and Beyond Differences Teen Leaders

Date: Tue, March 08, 2016
Time: 6:00 PM

The Health Consequences of Social Isolation with Former NFL Player Jonathan Martin & Beyond Differences Teen Leaders

Laura Talmus, Founder, Beyond Differences
Matt Pantell, MD, Pediatrician, UCSF
Jonathan Martin, Former NFL Offensive Tackle, Miami Dolphins, San Francisco 49ers; Member, Stanford University's Cardinals; National Spokesperson, Beyond Differences
Edyn Jensen and Carl Heil-Simpson, Teen Board Members, Beyond Differences

This panel will present eye-opening information about serious health and psychological effects of social isolation on youth. This dynamic panel of experts and student leaders will discuss everything from root causes of social isolation to alarming statistics that impact everything from academic failure—including increased school truancy rates—to adverse medical outcomes—including include the risk of obesity, substance abuse and poor cardiovascular health. From the perspective of scientists to students to celebrities, our panelists will talk about how policy leaders, parents, teachers, students and the media can help understand and end the epidemic of social isolation among our youth.

Laura Talmus is the founder of Beyond Differences, a Bay Area nonprofit that empowers youth to end social isolation and create more inclusive school environments. Dr. Matt Pantell is a UCSF pediatrician who was part of a research study in 2013 called “Social Isolation and Mortality: A Comparable Predictor to Mortality as Traditional Clinical Risk Factors“ American Journal of Public Health). Jonathan Martin is a former NFL offensive tackle for the Dolphins and 49ers, a member of Stanford University's Cardinals, and a national spokesperson for Beyond Differences. Edyn Jensen and Carl Heil-Simpson both represent high school students in the Beyond Differences leadership program.

Image - Peter Bergen, CNN National Security Analyst

Peter Bergen, CNN National Security Analyst

Date: Tue, March 08, 2016
Time: 6:30 PM

Peter Bergen, CNN National Security Analyst; Author, United States of Jihad: Investigating America’s Homegrown Terrorists

Since 9/11, more than 300 Americans—born and raised in Minnesota, Alabama, New Jersey and elsewhere—have been indicted or convicted of terrorism charges. Some have taken the fight abroad: an American was among those who planned the attacks in Mumbai, and more than 80 U.S. citizens have sought to join ISIS. Others have acted on American soil, as with the attacks at Fort Hood and the Boston Marathon. What motivates them, how are they trained, and what do we sacrifice in our aggressive efforts to track them?

Drawing on his extensive network of intelligence contacts, from the National Counterterrorism Center and the FBI to the NYPD, Peter Bergen offers an inside look at the controversial tactics of the agencies tracking potential terrorists—from infiltrating mosques to massive surveillance; at the bias experienced by innocent observant Muslims at the hands of law enforcement; at the critics and defenders of U.S. policies on terrorism; and at how social media has revolutionized terrorism.

Thu 3/10

Image - San Francisco Architecture Walking Tour

San Francisco Architecture Walking Tour

Date: Thu, March 10, 2016
Time: 1:45 PM

Explore San Francisco’s Financial District with historian Rick Evans and learn the history and stories behind some of our city’s remarkable structures, streets, and public squares. Hear about the famous architects who influenced the building of San Francisco after the 1906 earthquake. Discover hard-to-find rooftop gardens, Art Deco lobbies, unique open spaces, and historic landmarks. This is a tour for locals, with hidden gems you can only find on foot!

Image - Janice Kaplan

The Gratitude Diaries: How a Year Looking on the Bright Side Can Transform Your Life

Date: Thu, March 10, 2016
Time: 6:00 PM

Janice Kaplan, New York Times Best-selling Author; Former Editor-in-Chief, Parade Magazine;

New research shows gratitude can powerfully affect our sense of fulfillment and happiness. Simply saying thanks more regularly can change the neural pathways in our brains that help us to succeed. Best-selling author Janice Kaplan comes to The Commonwealth Club to share her insights into the effect of gratitude on our minds and bodies. Through amusing anecdotes and widespread research, she will provide manageable and effective tools to empower the audience to refine their thinking and start living their best lives. 

Mon 3/14

Image - The Commonwealth Club of California logo

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

Date: Mon, March 14, 2016
Time: 2:00 PM

This regular discussion group explores new and emerging solutions to the challenges of growing older. Not only will we be uncovering interesting new products at the intersection of aging and technology, we also will be conducting 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 will be facilitated by Dr. Richard Caro, whom many of you have heard speak at prior Grownups forum events.

Thu 3/17

How Early Nutrition Can Shape Gut Microbiota and Its Implications in the Autoimmunity Epidemics

Date: Thu, March 17, 2016
Time: 12:00 PM

How Early Nutrition Can Shape Gut Microbiota and Its Implications in the Autoimmunity Epidemics: The Lesson Learned From Celiac

Alessio Fasano, M.D., Mucosal Immunology and Biology Research Center, Massachusetts General Hospital for Children, Harvard Medical School, Boston

The gut microbiome consists of more than 100 trillion microorganisms, most of which are bacteria. It has been just recently recognized that there is a close bidirectional interaction between the gut microbiome and our immune system. Increased hygiene and a lack of exposure to various microorganisms have been held responsible for the "epidemic" of chronic inflammatory diseases over the past 30–40 years in industrialized countries.

While factors such as modality of delivery, neonatal feeding regimens, use of antibiotics, and infections can influence microbiota composition, diet is by far the most important variable affecting gut ecosystem. Dr. Fasano will discuss how the gut microbiome affects health and the steps that can be taken to keepthe microbiome healthy.

Tue 3/22

Image - The Commonwealth Club of California

Women Fostering Women As Change-agents Through Global Mentoring

Date: Tue, March 22, 2016
Time: 6:00 PM

Trish Tierney, Co-founder, Women’s Alliance for Knowledge Exchange; Former Executive Director, Institute of International Education
Barbara Bylenga, Co-founder and Executive Director, SHE-CAN (formerly Open a Door)
Julie Roberts, Health-care Executive; SHE-CAN Lead Mentor—Moderator

The panel will discuss how organizations are leveraging personal one-on-one connections and resource sharing in shifting the global female leadership paradigm. Represented organizations on this panel have experience in building female leadership through directly connecting women and girls in developing countries with professional women in the U.S. who help them access higher education, technology resources and—most important—connect them with a global network of professionals who help them succeed.

Wed 3/23

The Missing Kennedy

Date: Wed, March 23, 2016
Time: 5:15 PM

Elizabeth Koehler-Pentacoff, The New York Times Bestselling Author

Koehler-Pentacoff shares Rosemary Kennedy's tragic story about being lobotomized at 23 and being sent away to live the rest of her years at a convent. Rosemary's story is interwoven with the author's own personal tale in the new book The Missing Kennedy. A New York Times bestselling author, Elizabeth is the niece of the nun who took care of Rosemary Kennedy for 35 years. The inspiration behind The Special Olympics and The Best Buddies program, Rosemary led a very meaningful life because of how her family responded to her misfortune. Koehler-Pentacoff will share the impact Rosemary had on her life and the life of so many others.

Thu 3/24

Image - Russian Hill Walking Tour

Russian Hill Walking Tour

Date: Thu, March 24, 2016
Time: 1:45 PM

Join a more active Commonwealth Club Neighborhood Adventure! Russian Hill is a magical area with secret gardens and amazing views. Join Rick Evans for a hike up hills and staircases and learn about the history of this neighborhood. See where great artists and architects lived and worked, and walk down residential streets where some of the most historically significant houses in the Bay Area are located. 

Image- Douglas Rushkoff

Douglas Rushkoff: What Does the Digital Economy Really Mean?

Date: Thu, March 24, 2016
Time: 6:30 PM

Douglas Rushkoff, Professor of Media Theory and Digital Economics, CUNY/Queens; Author, Throwing Rocks at the Google Bus: How Growth Became the Enemy of Prosperity; Twitter

Digital technology was supposed to usher in a new age of distributed prosperity, but many have complained that so far it has been used to put industrial capitalism on steroids. Rushkoff says It’s not technology’s fault; but instead he blames a growth-driven, economic operating system that has reached the limits of its ability to serve anyone, rich or poor, human or corporate. But he says there must be a better response to the lopsided returns of the digital economy than to throw rocks at the shuttle buses carrying Google employees to their jobs, as protesters did in December 2013.

Acclaimed media scholar and technology author Douglas Rushkoff calls for people to embrace the more distributed possibilities of these technology platforms. He says we can optimize every aspect of the economy—from central currency and debt to corporations and labor—to create sustainable prosperity for business and people alike.