Meet Our Staff
Dr. Gloria C. Duffy, President & Chief Executive Officer
Stephanie S. Frey is the chief of staff and executive assistant to Dr. Gloria C. Duffy, president and CEO of The Commonwealth Club. Frey is responsible for managing Dr. Duffy’s schedule, coordinating the day-to-day operations of the Executive Office, and serving as the primary point of contact for internal and external constituencies on executive matters pertaining to the president and CEO. She serves as a liaison to the Board of Governors and senior management teams, organizes and coordinates executive outreach and external relations efforts, including fundraising activities, and oversees special projects.
Before joining The Commonwealth Club, Frey worked as the U.S. centre manager at the London School of Economics in London; development and communications manager for the School of Humanities at Rice University in Houston; senior event coordinator for The Events Co. in Houston; and assistant director of membership for the Ogden Museum of Southern Art in New Orleans. She has experience in project management, community and donor relations, research and development writing, communications and marketing, and event planning.
Born and raised in the San Francisco Bay Area, Frey is originally from San Rafael, CA. She has Bachelors of Arts in English and communications with a minor in women’s studies from Tulane University in New Orleans.
Administration & Finance
Nicholas Leon is The Commonwealth Club's vice president of finance and administration.
Natasha Parengkuan is The Commonwealth Club's accounting manager.
David Emerson is The Commonwealth Club's staff accountant. He has a BS in accounting from San Diego State University and has more than 5 years of experience in accounting and consulting for nonprofits, startups and small businesses throughout the Bay Area. He has practical knowledge of accounts payable, accounts receivable, ledger management and financial reporting using a variety of software. He also enjoys hiking, travel, board games and attending tech and policy talks at The Commonwealth Club.
Elham Alizadeh is the Club's Human Resources assistant. Her first name, Elham, means “inspiration,” “revelation”! But her middle name is Ellie, which she says is perhaps much easier to pronounce. She joined The Commonwealth Club in May 2018 and and is looking forward to this new journey and chapter of her life.
Alizadeh has a Master’s Degree in education, a post-graduate certificate in human resource management, and a certificate in learning and development from San Francisco State University. She also holds a PHR designation from the U.S. H.R. Certification Institute. She has a blend of global experience in both teaching/training and H.R. fields in the Middle East, Canada and the United States. In terms of corporate environments, she has worked in various industries such as banking, oil and gas, IT start-ups, telecommunications, civil engineering and nonprofits for the past couple of years. "I am very passionate about H.R. and skilled at employee onboarding, benefits, relations, talent acquisition and training," she says. In her free time, she is a board member and programming chair at NCHRA in Contra Costa County, coordinating regional training meetings to meet with new speakers, brush up on H.R. skills, including California laws, and develop her H.R. network to learn state-of-the-art techniques and innovations in the H.R. field to utilize at the Club.
Alex Hernandez is The Commonwealth Club's director of facilities and events.
Lisa Moschetti has been with the Club since 2016, when she was brought on to help build the private events program in our new venue at 110 The Embarcadero. This very exciting role includes marketing, booking and planning all corporate and social events for The Commonwealth Club, including full-day conferences, product launches, meetings, elegant dinners and standing receptions.
Moschetti was born in Seoul, South Korea, and grew up in Las Vegas, where she studied political science at UNLV. Some of her favorite employment experiences hail from Las Vegas, where she was responsible for managing events at top Las Vegas hotel The Venetian/Palazzo, as well as booking/planning events and catering for Emeril Lagasse (bam!). Moving to San Francisco and working for The Commonwealth Club has been such a fulfilling experience, because she gets to help create visions and experiences while working for a distinguished organization that serves our community. She truly loves her role and is excited to see what the future holds for The Commonwealth Club’s new private events program.
Mario Fusco is the building engineer or building operations technician for the Commonwealth Club. He is responsible for the daily as well as general maintenance tasks for the building. He started here in February 2018 and has taken responsibility for the building post-construction; he has really helped finalize the site as well as setting in place projects to keep the facility 100 percent for years to come. Before The Commonwealth Club, he worked at The Exploratorium for the last 9 years as one of the 9 skilled maintenance staff.
Jordan Herman is the private events coordinator for The Commonwealth Club. In this position, she plans and oversees dozens of events at 110 The Embarcadero annually. Jordan has been an employee of the Club for 5 years, beginning her tenure as a programs intern. Her favorite Club speakers have been Lucy Cooke and Ehud Barak.
Hailing from a philanthropic Bay Area family, Jordan has also volunteered at the SPCA and enjoys hikes and trips to the park with her rescue dog, Richie.
Jennifer Haberman, Facilities and Events Manager
James Siefker, Facilities Coordinator
Kassin Dela Cruz, Technology Specialist
"I've been a very proud member, volunteer and employee of the Club for close to 10 years now," says Renee Miguel. "After my youngest was off to college, I moved back to San Francisco, my hometown. I was looking for work, but wanted something rewarding and meaningful, not just another job, and lucky for me, after some time volunteering, I was offered a position managing the book ordering for all of our author events." A couple of years later, she was also offered the chance to facilitate the California Book Awards and thoroughly enjoyed that opportunity. It was a very busy 4 or 5 years managing both, but extremely rewarding—"just what I was hoping for." More recently she has changed her position so that she is working fewer hours and has begun managing all of the Club's floral needs, keeping our beautiful new venue decorated with fresh plants and flowers, and also those requested by our private event clients.
Miguel is a sixth-generation San Franciscan and can't imagine a more meaningful place for her to be. "Our pride in what The Club contributes to us all, across the country runs long and deep," she says. She first came to the Club as an 8-year-old voracious reader. "My grandfather brought me to the book awards to have a books signed—I still have that book." In her twenties after SF State, working in Embarcadero One, "my first grownup job," she often went to the noon events during her lunch hour.
She raised her two daughters up in Sonoma County, "which was beautiful, but I very much missed the city," she says. "Listening to our programs on the radio was like a life-line to me, helped keep me connected to what was really going on in the world. It's amazing to me now, being on the inside of our programming, that our staff of maybe 50 people somehow manages the 500 programs a year we do. It's an honor to work with such dedicated and passionate leadership & staff and we've got some of the most interesting and educated members and guests any club could hope for. I love being asked what I do, where I work; it's wonderful to be able to say 'The Commonwealth Club' and feel the same pride of place I've had all my life."
California Book Awards
Priscilla Vivio is the California Book Awards facilitator at The Commonwealth Club, responsible for jury relations and book submissions of more than 500 books in 8 categories each year. She has a Master’s in education and professional certificates in college and career counseling and nonprofit management. When she is not working at The Commonwealth Club, Vivio works as an independent educational consultant, helping students explore and apply to colleges.
In Vivio’s free time she enjoys reading (she belongs to two book clubs!), wine (she and her husband own a vineyard in Sonoma County), traveling, and anything that involves spending time with her four adult children and their families. Priscilla’s favorite program at The Commonwealth Club is . . . the California Book Awards!
Greg Dalton founded Climate One at The Commonwealth Club in 2007 after traveling to the Russian Arctic on a global warming symposium with climate scientists and journalists. Today Climate One produces a weekly radio show broadcast on public stations in California and around the country. Greg also hosts a monthly TV show on KRCB TV 22 on Comcast and DirecTV.
Climate One is the only regular talk show that engages high level leaders from business, policy, advocacy and academic circles in a conversation about building a sustainable economy and stabilizing the Earth’s climate. Past guests include scientific icon Jane Goodall, music legend Graham Nash, former Vice President Al Gore, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, U.S. Energy Secretary Rick Perry, tea party co-founder Debbie Dooley, Google Chairman Eric Schmidt, Chevron CEO Dave O’Reilly, GM Chairman Dan Akerson, Ford Motor Co. Chairman Bill Ford, Sierra Club Executive Director Michael Brune, and many other leaders.
Greg previously was a journalist for 12 years covering news in Beijing, Vancouver, New York and San Francisco for the Associated Press, South China Morning Post, McNeil-Lehrer News Hour, and Industry Standard magazine. He holds a Master’s degree in international affairs from Columbia University and a Bachelor’s in politics from Occidental College. Greg speaks rusty Mandarin and kitchen Cantonese.
Kelli Pennington launched her career hoping to change the cultural trends of waste and excess. She joined Climate One as director of audience engagement and is excited to be reaching out to the ever-growing climate community and elevating the conversation about climate change. She credits her climate conscience to her years working for Patagonia, Inc., where she worked as a social media editor and supported its “Vote the Environment” campaign touring the West Coast with Wilco. She then joined Conservacion Patagonica to support large-scale conservation projects in Chile and Argentina, as well as numerous book projects related to key environmental issues such as energy and overpopulation.
Kelli earned an MA in international relations and an MBA in finance from Seton Hall University, during which she ran the school’s academic journal and worked for the Council on Foreign Relations. She holds a bachelor’s degree in Spanish and Middle Eastern history from the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign.
Tyler Reed, Director of Events and Operations
Kimberly Maas began her tenure at The Commonwealth Club in 2013 and serves as the Club’s vice president for development. During her five years, she helped to manage the Club’s successful capital campaign, which raised funds to construct our permanent headquarters at 110 The Embarcadero. Under her leadership, annual support via Leadership Circle membership has reached record levels and the Club’s portfolio of corporate and foundation underwriters has grown to include local and national funders across many sectors.
Prior to coming to The Commonwealth Club, Kimberly worked for 6 years in the arts sector, first as a professional actor for regional repertory theaters across the country (New York, Texas and Minnesota) and then in development for TheatreWorks Silicon Valley as associate director of development, institutional gifts. She received a Master of Business Administration in May 2018 from the University of San Francisco. She earned a double Bachelor of Arts degree in literature and theatre arts from University of California, Santa Cruz.
She is passionate about philanthropy, civic engagement, the arts, and social equity—some of her favorite programs at the Club have been on these topics. She is both a cat and dog person, and within one year travelled to Mexico, Italy, Argentina, Chile, Uruguay, Japan, South Korea, Canada, Vietnam, Cambodia, and Israel—on a mix of personal, school, and work trips.
Alyssa Sewlal oversees and grows relationships with the Club’s institutional partners. She enjoys championing the Club’s unique brand of edutainment and delivering impactful experiences to our community of supporters and attendees alike. Before joining the Club in 2016, she worked internationally with policy-oriented organizations, including the United Nations in Geneva and the Royal Commonwealth Society in London.
She loves good storytelling, good food, Canadian summers and Caribbean humidity. She holds a BA in International Development Studies from York University (Toronto, Canada) and an MA from Oxford Brookes University (Oxford, UK).
At the Club, Kate Steffy works as the development coordinator for the Distinguished Citizen Award Gala and other special events. In this role, Kate manages fundraising special events from start to finish. She actively works with vendors, donors and counterparts to produce events that raise up to a quarter of the Club’s annual budget. Steffy comes to the Club from Willamette University located in Salem, Oregon, where she graduated cum laude with a degree in civic communications and media studies and politics. In previous years, Steffy has worked for Oregon’s Department of Justice, the governor of Oregon and an ambassador for Willamette University. Her favorite Club programs so far were Ben Rhodes and Stacy Abrams.
Outside of the Club, Kate has been recognized for her dedication to community service at the town, county, state and federal level. In her free time, she likes to go hiking, biking or paddle boarding and travels whenever she gets the chance. Her favorite travel destination is London and she one day hopes to travel to Thailand, the Amalfi Coast or Cuba (the list it too long).
Ana Alanis, Development Associate
Suzanne Field oversees the Club's Leadership Circle communications and events, annual giving campaigns, and supports all Club fundraising efforts. Her work is focused around interaction with people, from the incredible staff members throughout the Club to the generous philanthropists who make everything we do possible, now and into the future. "I find that those who work in nonprofits and those who support nonprofits are equally exceptional people—and I feel fortunate to work with all of them," she says.
Field has a long history of fundraising for the arts (BAMPFA, SFMOMA) and believes that visiting a museum or attending a discussion or performance is one of the most life-affirming and community-building activities possible. She holds a BA in film and video theory from the University of California at Santa Cruz, and an MBA with an emphasis in Museum Studies from John F Kennedy University. Film is her first love and favorite diversion. "I am a renowned cinephile and can often be found volunteering at local film festivals or enjoying one of the Bay Area’s historic theaters."
Since joining The Commonwealth Club staff in 2006, Vice President of Media & Editorial John Zipperer has directed the Club's print, digital, audio, video and public relations departments.
Zipperer also hosts or co-hosts 60–70 programs a year. In 2012, Zipperer launched an ongoing series of political roundtables called Week to Week. Now in its seventh year, Week to Week takes place about twice a month and features political experts (journalists, academics, consultants, analysts) discussing recent political developments. Since January 2018, Michelle Meow has taped her daily radio program at the Club one day each week, showcasing LGBTQ thought leaders; Zipperer co-hosts the program at the Club with Meow.
Before joining the Club, he was a writer and editor for technology magazines (Internet World, Windows Server System, University Business, and Smart Enterprise) and commercial real estate finance publications (Commercial Investment Real Estate, Affordable Housing Finance and Apartment Finance Today). He also was junior editor at the Hudson Institute think tank in Indianapolis. You can still find him in the pages of the monthly Marina Times newspaper in San Francisco. A Wisconsin native, Zipperer earned his BA in political science from the University of Wisconsin—Madison.
Megan Turner earned her BA in English at Elon University and her MFA in writing from the University of Massachusetts Amherst. Originally from Baltimore, Maryland, she grew up in Harrogate, England and Columbia, Maryland. She has also lived in South Korea and Spain. Prior to joining the Club as the digital associate editor, she worked as a foreign rights coordinator at HarperCollins in New York. She also served as an editorial specialist at UC Berkeley’s Learning Design Group at the Lawrence Hall of Science.
James Meinerth is the art director of The Commonwealth Club. He graduated with a BFA in design from the Art Institute of Boston at Lesley University in May 2012. He has been shooting and editing photography since he was 15. He moved around a bunch growing up—he has lived in Boston, MA; Sacramento, CA; Salem, MA; Toronto, ON; Portland, OR; Boston again, then he drove his car across America to San Francisco CA, where he currently lives.
In his free time, Meinerth shoots (with a camera) events, live music, cars, portraits and landscapes. The rest of his time is spent hanging out with friends and family eating delicious food and drinking delicious drinks. "Working at The Commonwealth Club has been by far my favorite job ever," he says. "The events are interesting and fun to shoot, and the building is amazing.”
Member & Guest Services
Shelley Wood is vice president of membership and marketing at The Commonwealth Club of California. She has more than 15 years of experience at "For Good" organizations. Previous roles have included membership, marketing, program and development leadership roles at museums, environmental and human services organizations. She is author of ChangeMaker Pocket Guide. The ChangeMaker Series celebrates great change leaders who have forged that more mindful path and honors their legacies, which remind us that we each have the ability to create a better world, first for ourselves and then for those around us.
Wood holds a Master of Science in international business and a Masters Certificate in strategic change leadership. "My favorite programs at the Club are the ones with unknown speakers," she says, "speakers who have spent their life in some special niche and then spend an hour sharing their unique experiences with us."
Patty Nowak, Member & Guest Services Coordinator
Billy Bean grew up on the East Coast in Boston and Cape Cod and moved to San Francisco in the early 1990s. For 10 years he worked as the West Coast regional makeup artist for both Chanel and Neiman Marcus, as well as runway. He also worked freelance for Butterfield & Butterfield’s Auction house. After getting my bachelor’s degree, he worked full-time at Bonhams Auction House in client services. This position included catalog fulfillment for all of the Americas, including Australia and Hong Kong, as well as traveling for the classic car department for various auctions and traveling with specialists on the Antiques Road Show appraisals.
In 2017 The Commonwealth Club came calling and Bean become the donor and membership coordinator, which evolved into his position as the concierge of the Leadership Circle. What he likes most about the Club are the variety of speakers and topics, as well as learning a great deal with the Climate One group. Most important, he enjoys giving the utmost attention and care to our awesome members!
As the membership and marketing project manager at The Commonwealth Club, he collaborates across departments, handling strategic efforts to enhance outreach to current members, and driving new initiatives for gaining new members. With degrees in communication and sociology from the University of California, Davis, he has also served as the development scheduling coordinator for the Mill Valley Film Festival and as a writer and producer for two daily live talk shows on KGO-TV ABC7. "I enjoy meeting both new and long-term Club members—in particular, learning about their thoughts, ideas, experiences, and program favorites," he says.
Rebecca Norton, Member, Guest Service & Event Coordinator
Joanne Presas, Member & Volunteeer Lead
As vice president of programs, George Dobbins has overseen staff-driven programming at The Commonwealth Club since 1999. Prior to that, he worked as a television talk show producer for almost 20 years, including 5 years at KPIX TV in San Francisco producing the program "People Are Talking" in the 80s, and the year 1991 in Los Angeles, during which he was a producer on Ron Reagan Jr's talk show. That was followed by 3 years at KRON TV's cable channel, Bay TV. At The Commonwealth Club, George has scheduled programs with Presidents Jimmy Carter and George W Bush, Walter Cronkite, Madeleine Albright, Condoleezza Rice, Francis Ford Coppola, Prince Albert of Monaco, and even mime Marcel Marceau, who did indeed speak. George holds a B.A. in English/Creative Writing from Stanford University and an M.F.A. in Television/Film production from UCLA.
As The Commonwealth Club’s marketing and programs manager, Nick crafts the promotional marketing and strategy for Club programs while also booking and producing dozens of live events per year. Now co-manager of The Commonwealth Club’s Travers Fellowship program, he started at the Club as a Travers Fellow himself while at UC Berkeley. This prestigious internship allows two Berkeley Political Science students per semester to be mentored as part of the team responsible for producing many of the Club’s marquee programs.
Nick is a Bay Area native who loves to travel, and he can often be found watching Chelsea FC and Cal Football games on the weekends. His favorite past Club speakers are Valerie Jarrett, Jonah Goldberg and Pete Souza.
For nearly 25 years, Adam Hirschfelder has harnessed the power of public, private and nonprofit institutions to engage citizens around ideas, timely topics, cultural arts, and urban revitalization. Hirschfelder joined The Commonwealth Club in 2018 from the California Historical Society, where he led the organization's programming and marketing departments, and directed major cultural heritage projects around the 50th Anniversary of the Summer of Love and the Centennial of the Panama-Pacific International Exposition. Previously, he was senior program officer at the Koret Foundation, where he led grantmaking efforts to Bay Area arts and cultural organizations.
Earlier in his career, Hirschfelder promoted volunteerism and civic engagement at the Corporation for National and Community Service in Washington, DC. The Teaneck, NJ, native started his career in the education industry, including stints at Scholastic Inc. in New York City and Sylvan Learning Systems in Baltimore. Hirschfelder graduated with honors from Northwestern University (Go Cats Go!) and received his MA in education policy from Teachers College, Columbia University. He serves on the boards of directors of the Marin Cultural Association and Taking it to the Streets. The Force is Strong with Him, and not just because he lives with his family in Marin County.
Nicole DeWees joined The Commonwealth Club in 2017 as an intern under the Travers Fellowship program. She graduated from UC Berkeley in May 2018 and subsequently joined the Club full time as program coordinator. She oversees digital and program content for events, co-manages the Travers Fellowship Program, and produces programs in San Francisco.
Her favorite part of the Club is working offsite events. Her favorite past programs include Alyssa Mastromonaco, Bill Nye (who offered her french fries), and Madeleine Albright. Originally from Sacramento, she loves her dog Wilbur and her husband Jack.
Kara Iwahashi is the director of program and literary arts. She oversees the Club’s author and literary events in San Francisco and Silicon Valley and also manages events held in our Silicon Valley location. Some of her most memorable events include Sec. Madeleine Albright, Julie Andrews, David Brooks, John Cleese, Christopher Hitchens, Arianna Huffington, Gwen Ifill, Justice Sonia Sotomayor, and Van Jones.
Kara graduated from Santa Clara University with degrees in political science and international business. She serves on the advisory board of Silicon Valley Reads and was previously on the board of Public Allies Silicon Valley.
Georgette is the program and outreach coordinator for the Silicon Valley office and just celebrated her 10th year with the Club. She received her degree in sociology from UC Santa Cruz and has a background in administration and H.R. Although some of her favorite events are John Cleese, Van Jones and Thomas Keller, Georgette believes she leaves every program a little bit more enlightened.
A native of the cold north of Canada, Georgette loves living in the Bay Area where she can indulge in some of her favorite pastimes like cycling, sailing and wine tasting all year long. She is an avid traveler, with more than 40 countries stamped in her passport, and as an equally avid soccer fan she has been to the last two World Cups in Brazil and Russia.
Marisa Levine joined Inforum as director in 2015, following a career in nonprofits and startups. She brings big goals, a bigger laugh, and a penchant for matchmaking people and ideas to the Inforum team–friends and strangers alike know her as a connector. In her mind, Inforum and the Club represent the best form of life-long learning, and she loves producing thought-provoking events while expanding and engaging the incredible Inforum community. She’s not one to pick favorites, and comes away from every program feeling smarter and savvier, whether it’s on blockchain, pop culture or politics.
She was born and raised in Pittsburgh, educated and frozen in Boston at Northeastern University, and might never leave the Bay Area’s perfect running (and eating and drinking) climate.
Krystal Contreras is the Inforum programs manager. Before she joined the team in 2018, she worked in film and entertainment in her past life and brings her love of the arts to The Commonwealth Club. Diversity, Oakland, feminism, pop culture and film festivals are other passions of hers and she is thrilled to lend a hand in creating interesting and meaningful programs for Inforum. She is originally from the Central Valley, but after attending UC Berkeley, decided to stay for good!
Nicole Ludwig, Coordinator, Marin Conversations
Before joining the Club as book sales coordinator, Sean Burmeister was a used book buyer for Powell’s Books and sales coordinator for I.D.G. Books. He also has a degree in business administration, and a background working in financial services and college bookstores.
When not at The Commonwealth Club, he enjoys reading, hiking and exploring the city. His favorite Club speaker is Krista Tippett.
Riki Rafner, Director of Media and Public Relations
With more than two decades of experience in audio and video production, Mark brings vast knowledge and expertise in radio and audio post-production to The Commonwealth Club.
Mark's varied background in audio includes 14 years with Avid Technology, a global leader in the manufacture of computer audio and video workstations. Right place, right time. Mark was with Avid through the conception, growing stages and emergence of Pro Tools and Media Composer as industry-leading workstations for sound and picture editing. Mark worked with Avid from 1988 to 2002 and led teams in technical support and marketing communications. Between 2002 and 2006, Mark ventured into the world of corporate training and sound industry certifications, co-founding three training centers, each offering expert-level audio and video production training. Two facilities were based in the Bay Area and a third in San Diego.
Mark later served as chief academic officer at The Recording Arts Center in San Diego, where he and his business partner received approval from the state of California to offer an occupational associate degree in recording arts in 2012. Since the start of their program, they have graduated close to 200 students from the 15-month, intensive, hands-on associate program. Besides directing the development of curriculum and teaching, Mark kept his practical audio engineering experience up-to-date by producing and mixing audio for top film, TV and broadcast clients such as NBC Sports, The Discovery Channel and Marvel Studios.
Mark relocated back to the Bay Area in 2016 after getting married, and started with the Club in the fall of 2017. An avid cyclist, on weekends and evenings there's a good chance you’ll find him climbing the hills of Woodside and Portola Valley on his way to or from the coast.
As director of audio services at the Club, Mark and his team manage the technical facilities of the Club related to putting on live programs, recording events, and editing the recorded program content for radio and podcast. The Club hosts close to 500 programs and private events each year, and ensuring the audio elements for each of these events is executed to plan is his group’s responsibility. The Club has amazing new sound and video recording systems installed throughout, and we’re lucky to be working with cutting-edge technology every day!
Justin Norton is the in-house audio engineer for The Commonwealth Club of California. He graduated from Pyramind in 2017 with a focus in music producing. Before audio engineering, he served 5 years in the United States Air Force as an inpatient pharmacy technician with a focus in chemotherapy compounding. He continued to work in hospitals as an IV technician before moving to California to pursue audio engineering. On the weekends you’ll find him jamming out with his rock band Suits of Steel, helping his wife produce content for Going Zero Waste—where they’ve been featured in National Geographic, Reader’s Digest, and KBS—and going on long walks with his dog, Nala.
Valerie R. Castro is an award-winning filmmaker. As a writer and director, her films have screened at the Cannes International Film Festival, Turin LGBTQ International Film Festival and at the prestigious Anthology Film Archives in New York. She has been an artist-in-residence at Coney Island USA in New York, New York and at the Listhús Gallery in Olafsfjordur, Iceland.
She holds on MFA in filmmaking from the San Francisco Art Institute, where she was the first-ever recipient of the highest award honor, the George Kuchar Memorial Filmmaking Award. Castro has worked in the film and television industry for the past 16 years. Her favorite show at the Club was when legendary film director Francis Ford Coppola graced The Commonwealth Club stage at the Castro Theatre. She likes to binge watch "The X-Files" and swim. Say hi, if you're ever interested in talking about film; Valerie loves to talk about movies.
Kristina Nemeth has been the travel director since 2008, planning more than 20 educational programs annually for Club members. Previously, she worked for an educational cruise ship in Alaska and Central America; organized international trips for the alumni travel market; and tour-led hundreds of intrepid travelers around the world—from Tibet to Siberia to the South Pacific. Some of her solo adventures include trekking through Nepal; backpacking for four months across Peru, Bolivia and Brazil; and crossing the island of Cuba in every motorized conveyance possible. She loves experiencing the “sameness of humanity” that spans the dazzling array of cultures across the globe. She enjoys photography and still has her first travel journal, which she wrote when she was eight years old. She’s a graduate of Northwestern University.
“Working at the Club allows me to create experiences that enrich people’s understanding of the world and that provide lasting intellectual connections," she says. "The Club’s mission of listening to various points of view is at the very heart of educational travel.”
Before joining The Commonwealth Club in 2017 as travel coordinator, Michael Steigerwald had been working in the travel industry for more than two decades, including an 18-year stint at the San Francisco-based Adventure Travel company, Geographic Expeditions, where he served as a director in the Asia Department. During that time, Michael scouted, designed and led numerous expeditions to the Himalayas, Mongolia and the Indian Subcontinent. Michael has a particular affinity with mountains, and has guided numerous treks and hiking trips throughout the world. He’s been quoted in The New York Times, had one of his photographs published in National Geographic, and was interviewed on national TV by the BBS (Bhutan Broadcasting Service).
In his spare time, Michael plays classical guitar (he graduated from the San Francisco Conservatory of Music before embarking on a career in travel). Michael is also an avid photographer and hiker, and is currently training for his next big expedition—a trek to the base of K2, in the Karakoram Mountains of northern Pakistan.
Josh Coley is the Club's senior web technologist.