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East Bay

Oakland Forum: How Leaders Are Building Communities in Oakland

Join us for a new Commonwealth Club experience as we launch the first of our new series of Oakland Forums, taking place at Fluid 510 in downtown Oakland. Join us for a lively talk with interesting speakers and then stick around and meet the speakers and your fellow audience members during our post-program networking reception. Buy a drink and chat about the issues raised during the program.

In our inaugural program, we're featuring Oakland leaders discussing building community in this time of serious challenges facing Oakland and other big cities.

About the Speakers

Darin Balaban is a self-taught visual artist with a focus on painting, multimedia pieces, and large-scale murals. He is considered to be part of the new-wave "post-vandalism" movement, which blurs the line between street art tropes and contemporary abstraction. Balaban's art practice has led him to exhibit in multiple galleries and lead large-scale projects domestically.

Shirley Gee is a managing partner at Angel Plus, LLC, a trusted validation firm of later stage, start-up corporations in anticipation of capitalization. Gee is an active Accredited Investor; chair of the Life Science Committee; a member of Technology Transfer Committee; and team lead for due diligence specializing in life science, medical devices, IOT, clean technology and renewal and alternative energy.

Joe Hawkins is a noted Oakland-based community organizer, LGBTQ advocate, nonprofit executive, event producer, and social entrepreneur. Hawkins first came to national prominence as one of the first gay men to ever appear as a guest on the iconic Oprah Winfrey talk show during the early 90's, defending his right to parent his son as an out gay man. He is a co-founder and former co-chair of Oakland Pride and was voted Grand Marshall of both the San Francisco and Oakland Pride Parades. He worked as a founding program member and CEO of OpNet Community Ventures, one of America's first high-tech training programs, launched in 1995, for low income youth and youth of color in San Francisco. Hawkins was regional director for Innovative Housing, a shared housing nonprofit for low-income families and individuals in Marin County. He worked as the director of administration at AIDS Project of the East Bay (APEB), served on the Ryan White Planning Council and was a founding organizer of the East Bay AIDS Walk. In 2017, Joe co-founded and is the CEO of the Oakland LGBTQ Community Center.


See more  Michelle Meow Show programs at The Commonwealth Club of California.

Produced in partnership with Fluid 510.

Photos courtesy the speakers..

February 21, 2024

Fluid 510
1544 Broadway
Oakland, CA 94612
United States

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Darin Balaban

Visual Artist

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Shirley Gee

Managing Partner, Angel Plus, LLC

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Joe Hawkins

Co-founder and CEO, Oakland LGBTQ Community Center.

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Michelle Meow

Producer and Host, "The Michelle Meow Show," KBCW TV and Podcast; Member, Commonwealth Club World Affairs of California Board of Governors—Co-host