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Riki Rafner



Nation’s Premier Public Affairs Forum Appoints Successful Investment Banker to Lead Club


SAN FRANCISCO, Calif.  (January 12, 2015 )  John Farmer, Former General Partner and Senior Director of Goldman Sachs, has been named the chair of the Board of Governors for The Commonwealth Club of California, the nation's oldest and largest public affairs forum.  John Farmer spent his entire business and professional career in the investment banking and securities industry before retiring from Goldman Sachs as General Partner. As Chair of the Commonwealth Club Board he succeeds Anna Mok, a partner with Deloitte & Touche LLP. He has served as Vice Chair of the Club’s Board for the past two years.  Now Farmer joins the ranks of an illustrious group of men and women who have served as Board Chairs of the Commonwealth Club, including actress and diplomat Shirley Temple Black. 

“I am excited to be the new Chair of this organization which continues to galvanize debate and stimulate critical thinking,” says Mr. Farmer. ”The depth and breadth of Club programs affords many methods for individuals and corporations to be engaged with one of the Bay Area’s leading institutions.  I am impressed with the more than 450 forums, debates, and trips the Club offers each year.   There is something for everyone.  I look forward to seeing our donors, members, and visitors in our fantastic interim location and welcoming them to our new home.”

Dr. Gloria Duffy, President and CEO of the Club, remarked, “John possesses the perfect combination of business skills and community leadership experience that is wonderfully suited to guide our dynamic and ever-changing organization. With a lifelong career in investment banking and his board leadership role with several important educational institutions, John Farmer will be a superb Board Chair.  His lengthy career shows an amazing commitment to the causes he champions.   He will be an ideal leader for the Club.” 

Currently, Farmer also serves on the Board of Trustees of Occidental College, Los Angeles, where he chaired the Board for four years. He has been involved in higher education as a Trustee for 10 years at Washington and Lee University in Lexington, Virginia.  Before that, Mr. Farmer spent 13 years as a Trustee of The American School in London, 11 of those years as Chair of the Board from 1993 to 2004.  Farmer was also an officer in the U.S. Army for two years and received his bachelor’s degree from Washington and Lee University.  John and his wife, Tawna, have four children and eight grandchildren, and currently reside in Tiburon.


At least one million people hear The Commonwealth Club’s weekly radio broadcasts on more than 230 public and commercial stations across the country. The Club’s videos also appear on the California Channel, C-SPAN,, and YouTube, where they have been viewed millions of times. 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.  For more information, visit

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