The Commonwealth Club Of California Celebrates 30th Annual Distinguished Citizen Gala: "Views from 110"
SAN FRANCISCO, California (April 20, 2018)—The Commonwealth Club celebrated115 years with its annual Distinguished Citizen Gala held at the Club’s first new permanent home, 110 The Embarcadero, San Francisco on Thursday, April 19, with a cocktail reception at 5p.m., Award Ceremony at 6 p.m., and dinner and program to follow.
The Distinguished Citizen Award is presented to those who have devoted their lives to making the world a better place. Every year, the Club celebrates honorees who provided strong and ethical leadership in their fields. This year is no different, as it lauds the achievements of distinguished citizens from various sectors, including government, technology, education and philanthropy. Over 450 guests attended.
The 2018 honorees were:
- The Honorable Leon and Sylvia Panetta—Co-Founders of the Panetta Institute for Public Policy. Leon served as Secretary of Defense, Director of the CIA, White House Chief of Staff and U.S. Congressman. Education advocate Sylvia Panetta is Co-Chair and CEO of the Panetta Institute whose mission it is to encourage young people to pursue lives of public service. She has also worked for the President’s Crime Prevention Council and directed five Congressional District Offices.
- Dr. John L. Hennessey—Board Chair of Alphabet and 10th President of Stanford University.
- Dr. Mary G. F. Bitterman—President of The Bernard Osher Foundation, Former President and CEO of KQED Public Broadcasting and Chairman of PBS Foundation.
- Nancy E. Pfund—Founder and Managing Partner of DBL Partners.
President and CEO of the Commonwealth Club Dr. Gloria Duffy notes, “Nothing is more valuable in society today than strong and ethical leadership. At its 2018 Gala, the Club is honored to showcase some of the most outstanding and effective leaders the Bay Area has shared with the world. Leon Panetta is renowned for crossing political boundaries in his many roles in government, while his wife Sylvia has nurtured young people for decades. Mary Bitterman has led in so many ways, from heading the Voice of America to serving as President of KQED to leading the Osher Foundation. John Hennessy is a
pioneering computer scientist who built and strengthened Stanford University as its president. And Nancy Pfund pioneered the concept of double bottom line investing, doing well while doing good. We are so proud to present them with the Club’s Distinguished Citizen award, as we celebrate the Club’s 115th year at our beautiful new headquarters on The Embarcadero.”
In celebration of its new permanent home, The Commonwealth Club’s annual gala was hosted at 110 The Embarcadero. Opened in September 2017, its new LEED Gold building sits right on the historic Embarcadero, with sweeping views of the Bay and Bay Bridge from every level. Those who attend will enjoy many viewpoints on April 19 from the best new spot on the Bay!
The event, emceed by Dan Ashley, anchor at ABC7 News, benefits the nonprofit with funds supporting the Club’s 450 dynamic and compelling programs each year. The Award Ceremony took place at 6 p.m., followed by dinner at 7 p.m. The tented, outdoor cocktail reception and awards ceremony was followed by four simultaneous dinner events, one on each level of the new Commonwealth Club. An engaging program took place on each floor with remarks from the recipients of the Distinguished Citizen Award during the dinner. The evening concluded with guests reconvening under the tent for dessert and socializing.
Evelyn Dilsaver, an Independent Board Director of multiple companies, including Healthy Equity and Blue Shield of California, is this year’s Gala Chair. She remarks “We are very excited to be able to showcase our new home for ideas and thought provoking forums, and to celebrate the significant contributions of our honorees.”
For the past century, the Club has fostered free speech and civic dialogue on wide-ranging topics, addressing key issues in society, culture, politics, the economy and more.
More than one million people listen to The Commonwealth Club’s weekly radio broadcasts on more than 230 public and commercial stations across the country. The Club’s podcasts are downloaded more than 2.5 million times each year. The Club’s videos also appear on the California Channel, C-SPAN, Fora.tv, and YouTube, where they have been viewed millions of times.
Individual tickets are sold out. Table sales and sponsorship begins at $10,000. For more information about purchasing tickets or tables please contact email@example.com (415) 597-6737.
30th Annual Distinguished Citizen Gala location and logistics:
- When: Thursday, April 19, 2018
- Where: 110 The Embarcadero, San Francisco, CA 94105
- Time: 5 p.m. Cocktail hour, 6 p.m. Award Ceremony, 7 p.m. Dinner, 8:30 p.m. Dessert
- For more information contact Kate Steffy (415) 597-6737
Media interested in attending should please RSVP to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Tributes were paid to:
John L. Hennessy
John L. Hennessy served as President of Stanford University from September 2000 until August 2016. In early 2016, he announced the Knight-Hennessy Scholars Program, the largest fully endowed graduate-level scholarship program in the world, and after stepping down as president, he became the inaugural Shriram Family Director of the Knight-Hennessy Scholars Program in September 2016.
Hennessy, a pioneer in computer architecture, joined Stanford’s faculty in 1977 as an assistant professor of electrical engineering. In 1981, he drew together researchers to focus on a technology known as RISC (Reduced Instruction Set Computer), which revolutionized computing by increasing performance while reducing costs. Hennessy helped transfer this technology to industry. In 1984, he cofounded MIPS Computer Systems, now MIPS Technologies, which designs microprocessors. He rose to full professorship in 1986 and was the inaugural Willard R. and Inez Kerr Bell Professor of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science (1987-2004). He has been director of Stanford’s Computer Systems Laboratory (1983-1993); dean of the School of Engineering (1996-2000), and university provost (1999-2000). In October 2000, he was inaugurated as Stanford’s 10th president.
His honors include the 2012 Medal of Honor of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, its highest award; the 2000 Benjamin Garver Lamme Award of the American Society of Electrical Engineers; the 2001 Eckert-Mauchly Award of the Association for Computing Machinery; the 2001 Seymour Cray Computer Engineering Award; a 2004 NEC C&C Prize for lifetime achievement in computer science and engineering, and a 2005 Founders Award from the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. Hennessy earned his bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering from Villanova University and his master’s and doctoral degrees in computer science from the State University of New York at Stony Brook.
Mary G. F. Bitterman
Mary G. F. Bitterman, President and trustee of The Bernard Osher Foundation, served previously as President and CEO of The James Irvine Foundation and of KQED Public Broadcasting. She held earlier positions 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 chairs the Board of the PBS Foundation and is Lead Independent Director of Bank of Hawaii. She serves on the boards of the Bay Area Council Economic Institute, Commonwealth Club of California, and Hawaii Community Foundation as well as on the advisory councils of the Stanford Institute for Economic Policy Research, Public Policy Institute of California, and Pacific Forum/CSIS.
Bitterman received her B.A. from Santa Clara University and her M.A. and Ph.D. from Bryn Mawr College. She is an Honorary Member of the National Presswomen’s Federation and a Fellow of the National Academy of Public Administration.
Nancy E. Pfund
Nancy E. Pfund is Founder and Managing Partner of DBL Partners, a venture capital firm whose goal is to combine top-tier financial returns with meaningful social, economic and environmental returns in the regions and sectors in which it invests. As a leading player in impact investing, DBL has helped to reveal the power of venture capital to promote social change and environmental improvement, and Ms. Pfund writes and speaks frequently on the field of impact investing. She sponsors or sits on the board of directors of several companies, including; Farmer's Business Network, The Muse, Advanced Microgrid Solutions, Off-Grid Electric, Primus Power, and, prior to their public offerings, Tesla Motors and Pandora. She also served on the board of SolarCity, and was on both the audit and compensation committees, and also chair of the corporate governance committee from 2008 until its acquisition by Tesla in December 2016.
Ms. Pfund was featured #17 in the 2014 FORTUNE Inaugural World's Top 25 Eco-Innovators; and appeared on Fast Company’s 2016 List of Most Creative People in Business. She serves as a member of the Board of Trustees of the National Geographic Society, as a member and former chair of the Advisory Council of the Bill Lane Center for the American West at Stanford University; the UC Davis Center for Energy Efficiency; and co-chairs the Yale School of Management Program on Entrepreneurship. She has been a Lecturer in Management at the Stanford Graduate School of Business and the Yale School of Management; and is a C3E Ambassador to the U.S. Clean Energy Education and Empowerment Program, led by the U.S. Department of Energy. She is also a founding officer and director of ABC2, a foundation aimed at accelerating a cure for brain cancer. Ms. Pfund received her BA and MA in anthropology from Stanford University, and her MBA from the Yale School of Management.
Leon Panetta co-founded The Panetta Institute for Public Policy with his wife Sylvia in 1997 upon completion of his service as White House chief of staff in the Bill Clinton administration. In 2009, he left to serve as CIA director and then secretary of defense under President Obama. He returned to the Institute as chairman in 2013.
Secretary Panetta began his long and distinguished public service career in 1964 as a U.S. Army intelligence officer, receiving the Army Commendation Medal. Upon discharge he went to work in Washington as a legislative assistant to U.S. Senate minority whip Tom Kuchel of California. In 1969, he was appointed director of the U.S. Office for Civil Rights, and later he served as executive assistant to the mayor of New York City. He then returned to Monterey, where he practiced law until his election to the U.S. House of Representatives in 1976. Leon Panetta co-founded The Panetta Institute for Public Policy with his wife Sylvia in 1997 upon completion of his service as White House chief of staff in the Bill Clinton administration. In 2009, he left to serve as CIA director and then secretary of defense under President Obama. He returned to the Institute as chairman in 2013.
Secretary Panetta began his long and distinguished public service career in 1964 as a U.S. Army intelligence officer, receiving the Army Commendation Medal. Upon discharge he went to work in Washington as a legislative assistant to U.S. Senate minority whip Tom Kuchel of California. In 1969, he was appointed director of the U.S. Office for Civil Rights, and later he served as executive assistant to the mayor of New York City. He then returned to Monterey, where he practiced law until his election to the U.S. House of Representatives in 1976.
Secretary Panetta returned to public service at the start of the Obama administration as director of the Central Intelligence Agency. Then, as Secretary of Defense, he led efforts to develop a new defense strategy, conduct critical counter terrorism operations, strengthen U.S. alliances, and open military service opportunities to Americans regardless of gender or sexual orientation. He chronicles his life in public service in his best-selling memoir Worthy Fights, which was published by Penguin Press in 2014.
Sylvia M. Panetta is Co-Chair and CEO of The Panetta Institute for Public Policy. Mrs. Panetta oversees the day-to-day operations of all its programs and projects.
From 1977 to 1993, she directed five Congressional district offices in the 16th (now 20th) Congressional District as a volunteer for Mr. Panetta. In 1995, Mrs. Panetta was appointed Deputy Director for Staff and Finance at the President's Crime Prevention Council in Washington, D.C. She has also served as an advisor to the Chancellor of California State University since March 1997.
Mrs. Panetta's community involvement has extended to many non-profit organizations with an interest in public education. Mrs. Panetta was the founding executive director of the Foundation to Support the Monterey Peninsula Unified School District, a non-profit organization designed to promote and provide grants to programs serving children within that district.
Mrs. Panetta actively supports the Sylvia Panetta Scholarship Fund, a grant program established in her name in 1990 at Monterey Peninsula College that helps financially disadvantaged second-year students to continue their education at a four-year educational institution. She is a past board member of the National Steinbeck Center, where she served as the Vice President for Education and Chair of the Education Committee.
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