Meet Our Staff

Dr. Gloria C. Duffy, President & Chief Executive Officer 

Read Dr. Duffy's biography 

Peter Adubato, Executive Assistant to the President & CEO 

Peter Adubato is the executive assistant to Dr. Gloria C. Duffy, president and CEO of The Commonwealth Club. 

Administration & Finance 

Nicholas Leon, Vice President of Finance and Administration 

Nicholas Leon is The Commonwealth Club's vice president of finance and administration.

David Emerson, Senior Accountant 

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, Human Resources Assistant 

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, Director of Facilities & Events 

Alex Hernandez is The Commonwealth Club's director of facilities and events.

Lisa Moschetti, Event Sales and Marketing Manager 

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, Building Operations Technician 

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, Events Coordinator 

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 

Renee Miguel, Facilities Associate 

"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 

Sean Burmeister, Book Sales Coordinator 

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.

Climate One

Gregory Dalton, Vice President of Special Projects and Director of Climate One Project 

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, Climate One Director of Audience Engagement 

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 

Sara-Katherine Coxon, Content & Strategy Manager

Sara-Katherine has worked for nearly a decade on engaging broad audiences around environmental sustainability. Her passion for science communication began after witnessing the gap between research and political action while working at the World Resources Institute (WRI) in Washington D.C., where she supported climate and clean energy communications.

Sara-Katherine turned her focus to sustainable behavior change and campus engagement as the sustainability coordinator at Stanford University, where she worked on resource conservation programs for students and staff. She now manages strategy and a rich database of audio, video and online content for Climate One (including the weekly Climate One podcast).

A Canada and Vermont native, Sara-Katherine holds a bachelor's degree in environmental science from Queen's University and a master's in environmental science and management from the Bren School at U.C. Santa Barbara. She is fluent in French and is working on her Spanish.


Kimberly Maas, Vice President of Development 

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.

Michelle D'Alo, Director of Development & Growth, Silicon Valley

Ana Alanis, Development Manager: Strategic Partnerships 

Kate Steffy, Senior Development Manager 

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).

Billy Bean, Donor & Member Specialist 

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!

Kendall Schonenberg, Development Coordinator


John Zipperer, Vice President of Media & Editorial 

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 eighth 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, Digital Associate Editor 

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, Art Director 

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.”


Lauren Silver, Education Director

Lauren joined The Commonwealth Club in 2019, launching a new education department and a new focus on K-12 learning and civic engagement. 

Lauren’s background includes more than 20 years of teaching, research and leadership in museums, preK-12 schools and universities. Prior to joining the Club, she was the vice president of education at the Computer History Museum, where she founded and led the education department for more than 10 years. There, she created programs that served thousands of visitors each year, developed community partnerships that made STEM learning available for underserved and at-risk youth and families, and led the design and construction of a 3,000 square-foot interactive learning center. Lauren has also worked at Stanford University, as both an education curator at the Cantor Arts Center and a lecturer in the Graduate School of Education, and at the J. Paul Getty Museum.

Lauren grew up in New York. She holds a Ph.D. in developmental psychology from UC Berkeley and graduated from Smith College with a double major in psychology and studio art. As an artist, she did graduate work in printmaking at the San Francisco Art Institute and in a small international studio outside of Lucca, Italy; she has a particular passion for book arts. In her free time, Lauren can be found hiding out in the children’s book section of the local library, relaxing with the Sunday New York Times crossword puzzle, or cooking.

Member & Guest Services 

Shelley Wood, Vice President of Membership and Marketing 

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 

Jason Fong, Membership & Marketing Project Manager 

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.

Joanne Presas, Member & Volunteer Lead 


George Dobbins, Vice President of Programs 

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.  

Nicholas Grimmond, Marketing & Programs Manager 

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.

Adam Hirschfelder, Programs Manager 

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.

Silicon Valley 
Kara Iwahashi, Director of Program and Literary Arts 

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 Gehue, Program and Outreach Coordinator 

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.

Krystal Contreras, Inforum Director 
(415) 597-6701

Krystal Contreras is the director of Inforum. 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 DeWees, Inforum Programs Manager 

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.

Marin Conversations 
Timothy Don, Coordinator, Marin Conversations

Timothy Don is the coordinator of The Commonwealth Club's Marin Conversations series of programs in Marin County.

Sean Burmeister, Book Sales Coordinator 

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.

Contact page for Member-Led Forum chairs 

Public/Media Relations 

Riki Rafner, Director of Media and Public Relations 

As media and public relations director for The Commonwealth Club of California, Riki is responsible for both proactive and reactive broadcast, print and internet promotion of our events, speakers, President and CEO Dr. Gloria Duffy, Club Board of Governors members, media placement and coverage. In conjunction with this, she worked as media relations consultant for the Mineta Transportation Institute and as a TV news/public affairs show producer at the CW/KPIX affiliate in San Francisco. She also worked as broadcast specialist for Strategy Associates, a high-tech public relations agency in Foster City, where she advised CNET host/scientist Richard Hart and media coached top executives from, SeeCommerce and several other tech companies. In her media/PR capacity she worked for KCBS Radio, The Law Office of Melvin Belli and Mount Zion Hospital, UCSF.  She has placed the gamut of newsworthy individuals in and on a range of national and local media, including The Wall Street Journal, “The Today Show” and CNN.  

As senior producer for UPN-TV, KBCW TV in San Francisco, she wrote and produced the Emmy Award-winning “Journey of Purpose” documentary showcasing the AIDS/Lifecycle 3 ride. For this piece she won the Emmy and Peninsula Journalism awards.  For her news and public affairs shows she snared interviews with Oprah Winfrey, Kenneth Branagh, Nancy Pelosi, Spike Lee, Rita Moreno, Kenny Loggins and Walter Cronkite, to name a few.

Riki was also a segment producer on the national television newsmagazine show "The Crusaders," a show that proactively reported on issues and found solutions for them. One of the most gratifying highlights of her career was producing her piece "Bridge of Troubled Waters" about suicides on the Golden Gate Bridge and the resulting “crisis-line” installed on the bridge, for which she received the 1994 National Headliners Association Award in the Outstanding News Magazine Program Division. Before this, she had the privilege of working with Belva Davis and the late Rollin Post on their weekly news/talk show “Weekend Extra” at KRON TV and produced news and public affairs programs at KSL-TV in Salt Lake City. She also hosted several radio talk shows, both in Utah and Napa, interviewing such well known personalities and politicians as Jerry Brown and Martin Sheen.

The New Jersey native graduated from Harvard University. 


Mark Kirchner, Director of Audio Services 

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, Audio Engineer 

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.


Kristina Nemeth, Travel Director 

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.”  

Michael Steigerwald, Travel Coordinator 

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, Senior Web Technologist 

Josh Coley is the Club's senior web technologist.