Announcing the People, Place and Power Series at The Commonwealth Club

Photo credit: James Meinerth

This is a pivotal time in the Bay Area and across the nation. Conversations are happening at every level about the future of our region, about who can live and thrive here. What jobs are being created locally and who is prepared for them? How do we ensure affordable housing for current and new residents? Who can be a part of the prosperity of the booming economy of the region?

We have launched a new regional agenda and are teaming up with the Commonwealth Club on a series to explore the intersection of People, Place and Power in the Bay Area. 

Check out the conversations we have had. We will continue to post information about upcoming panelists and sessions on this page, as well as video following the events.


This series and our partnership with the Commonwealth Club is made possible by the support of Bay Area Leads donors.


One Paycheck Away: Addressing Homelessness in the Bay Area

Every night, more than 130,000 people go to sleep homeless in California. An estimated 25,000 of them are in the San Francisco Bay Area: sleeping on couches, in cars or sometimes in tents on the sidewalk. At this point, people from coast to coast know that the Bay Area is in the midst of a housing crisis. But what is the region doing to address the affordable housing and homelessness crisis?

Come hear from some of the Bay Area’s leading experts on issues surrounding homelessness. From working on the service and legal sides to fighting for policy changes to currently experiencing homelessness herself, our speakers will discuss the state of the crisis, how we got here and where we’re headed next.

Needa Bee, Co-Founder and Lead Organizer, Feed the People and The Village in Oakland
Angela Jenkins, Director of Strategic Initiatives, Kaiser Permanente
Tomiquia Moss, Executive Director and CEO, Hamilton Families
Tirien Steinbach, Outgoing Executive Director, East Bay Community Law Center; Incoming Chief Program Officer, ACLU of Northern California

Moderated by Mina Kim, Anchor and Host of Forum, KQED

The Hope of Our Future: Youth Leaders in Their Own Words

The recent March for Our Lives nationwide protests against gun violence, led by teenage survivors of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting, were some of the largest youth protests since the Vietnam War. But young people have been fueling social change in America for decades, from the civil rights movement and Vietnam War protests to the undocumented youth and Black Lives Matter movements.

Twenty-two million American teens will turn 18 by the 2020 election, giving youth tremendous power during a critical moment in our nation’s history. What will the future look like under their leadership? When we create space for young people, support their advocacy and listen to their voices, they speak truth to power and we all stand to win. That’s why, for this event, we’re handing them the microphones.

Join some of the Bay Area’s brightest young leaders as they discuss the issues they care about, the policies they’re working to change and the tools and strategies they’re using to grow their movements.

Gabriel Cabrera, Transgender LGBTQ+ Community Activist; KQED Youth Takeover Speaker; Casa CHE Program Participant; Junior, Arise High School
Caitlyn Clark, Teen Poetry Slam Grand Champion; Founder, Intersectional Gender Equity and Feminism Club at Benicia High School; Incoming Freshman, Yale University
Kiere Garrett, HOPE SF Phoenix Champion; MBSK Youth Council Member; Youth Speaker/Organizer; Basketball Player; Junior, City Arts and Tech High School
Cheyenne Gonzalez,Teen Mental Health Advocate; Youth Organizer, Californians for Justice; Teaching Assistant, Youth Beat; Senior, Oakland High School

Moderated by Senait Hailemariam, Production Coordinator, BAYCAT (a Digital Media Nonprofit)

The Art of the Resistance in the Bay Area

From the beat of the drum to the stroke of the brush to the power of the spoken word, art has been central to the Bay Area’s long history of activism. It’s those movements that have partnered closely with artists that have had some of the strongest ripples, from immigrant rights to the LGBTQ pride movement. In its many forms, art has the power to touch hearts, change minds and strengthen communities during difficult times.

Today, as we face a new set of challenges, protest art is experiencing a renaissance in the Bay Area. With the click of a mouse, movement artists are engaging new audiences on a whole new set of platforms. Join the San Francisco Foundation, together with some of the Bay Area’s most renowned “artivists,” to discuss the role of art in today’s social justice movements.

Hiroshi Kashiwagi, 95-year-old Nisei, Incarcerated in U.S. Internment Camp; Actor; Author, Starting From Loomis and Other Stories
Favianna Rodriguez, Interdisciplinary Artist; Political Activist; Executive Director, CultureStrike, a national arts organization advocating for migrants’ rights
Cat Brooks, Performer; Activist; Co-founder, Anti Police-Terror Project
José Navarrete, Dancer; Activist; Producer, Live Arts in Resistance, Eastside Arts Alliance, Oakland

Moderated by Mina Kim, Anchor and Host of Forum, KQED

Enemy of the State: How the Media are Evolving in a Fact-Free Environment

Less than a month into his presidency, Donald Trump tweeted that the “fake news media is not my enemy. It is the enemy of the American people.” How does this rhetoric change the public’s trust in the media and the role journalism plays in a democratic society at a time when social media has changed the way we receive information?

With misinformation and partisan content influencing public opinion, journalism is reimagining its role in what has become a fact-free, post-truth environment. According to a 2016 Gallup poll, only 32 percent of Americans felt “they have a great deal or fair amount of trust in the media.” The media are finding ways to adapt in this current environment while continuing to inform an increasingly divided audience. The San Francisco Foundation is bringing together the Bay Area’s leading journalists and social media professionals to discuss the convergence of journalism, social media and the news.

Pete Davies, Director, Product Management at LinkedIn
Holly Kernan, Vice President of News, KQED
Al Letson, Reveal News Host, the Center for Investigative Reporting
Carolina Nuñez, Vice President and Regional News Director, Univision in Northern California

Moderated by Mina Kim, Anchor and Host of Forum, KQED

Give Me Shelter: How the Bay Area is Tackling its Housing Crisis

October 10, 2017

A safe and secure shelter, one of humanity’s most basic needs, has eluded far too many people in this resource-rich region. In the past five years, Bay Area home prices have surged by an astounding average of 72 percent. This is one reason why even six-figure household incomes are considered “low income” in certain parts of the Bay Area and why homeless tent encampments and the number of RVs lining the streets of cities across the region are growing dramatically. Currently, 1.5 million households in the Bay Area pay more than half of their income in rent. And people of color and seniors are being hit the hardest.

But for the first time, the public, private, nonprofit and philanthropic sectors are working together on creative solutions to produce, preserve and protect affordable homes for all residents. Last fall, voters passed 15 affordable housing measures throughout the Bay Area. The tech giant Facebook has committed to help build a nearly $20 million fund to partner with local governments and nonprofits to create “innovative and scalable” affordable housing near its Menlo Park headquarters.

Please join The San Francisco Foundation and the Bay Area’s most influential leaders concerned about our housing crisis to discuss ways in which the region is advocating, innovating and building in order to keep Bay Area residents in their homes.

Tameeka Bennett, Executive Director, Youth United for Community Action
Cindy Chavez, Santa Clara County Supervisor
Amie Fishman, Executive Director, Non-Profit Housing Association of Northern California
Caitlyn Fox, Director of Policy and Advocacy, Chan Zuckerberg Initiative

Moderated by Fred Blackwell, CEO, The San Francisco Foundation

Watch the video here:

Not on Our Watch: How the Bay Area Stands United

June 26, 2017

Teenage brothers Angel and Miguel worry every day about their mom. She is undocumented, and she’s put together an emergency binder telling her sons what to do if she’s picked up by immigration authorities and doesn’t come home. Kaushik came to San Francisco from India five years ago to attend college. He found a job as an app engineer, but because he’s here on a specialized work visa, he isn’t sure if he can continue living in this country. Esra, a student at San Jose State University, must think about her safety when she gets dressed in the morning. Last year, a stranger tried to yank off her hijab while she was in a campus parking garage.

These real stories illustrate what is unfolding across the country and in Bay Area communities. Our panelists say that, unlike any other region, the Bay Area is equipped with the history and willpower to stand with and protect immigrants and their families at this time of crisis.

In January, San Francisco, a city led by the son of immigrants, became the first city in the country to sue the president for threatening to withhold federal funding from sanctuary cities. In February, Muslim artists began staging prayer sessions in public plazas throughout San Francisco to combat growing Islamophobia. In both February and April, more than 100 tech companies, including many founded by immigrants, banded together to file legal challenges to the president’s executive orders on immigration. And on May 1, tens of thousands of Bay Area residents took to the streets to demonstrate immigrants and workers’ essential contributions to society.Please join the San Francisco Foundation to hear from Bay Area leaders seeking to protect and defend immigrants (who represent more than 40 percent of Bay Area residents) so that they can continue to contribute to the economic prosperity and cultural vibrancy of the region.

Ju Hong, Dreamer Activist
Marielena Hincapié, Executive Director, National Immigration Law Center
Zahra Billoo, Executive Director, Council on American-Islamic Relations
Raha Jorjani, Director of the Immigration Representation Unit, Alameda County Public Defender’s Office

Moderated by Mina Kim, Anchor and Host of Forum, KQED

Read the blog piece about this session.

Watch the video of this session:

Changemakers: Movement Leaders on Civil Rights in an Uncivil Time

February 1, 2017


Black Lives Matter. Immigrant rights. Climate justice. Are demands for change leading to lasting change? Are we rewriting the rules, or just arguing about them? How do movements — their leaders and their members — successfully build power and spur lasting change? What can we learn from leaders of recent efforts and from history? At a time of great disruption, join us as we continue our series on People, Place and Power with a discussion with movement leaders on building power and voice.

Lariza Dugan Cuadra, Executive Director, CARECEN SF
Rashad Robinson, Executive Director, Color of Change
Abdi Soltani, Executive Director, ACLU of Northern California
Tom Steyer, Founder and President, NextGen Climate

Moderated by Mina Kim, Anchor and Host of Forum, KQED

Watch the video of this session:

A Place to Call Home

November 1, 2016

The Bay Area is in the midst of an unprecedented housing crisis. The way that we deal with this crisis will have repercussions for generations to come. Across the Bay Area, everyone is feeling the effects, but none more than the 1 million working families – predominantly people of color – that live below the poverty line. Without significant coordinated intervention, the housing crisis threatens to displace over 1.5 million people in the Bay Area, and erode the diversity, cultural vitality, and spirit that make the Bay Area a successful, prosperous, and resilient region.

Despite the obvious challenges, there is growing awareness among elected officials, policy makers, business leaders, and the general public of the magnitude of the region’s housing crisis, and we have seen significant willingness among all these groups to take action.

In this forum, we heard from housing experts and advocates, developers and community leaders about how to ensure that all residents in the Bay Area have a safe, affordable place to call home.

Xavier de Souza Briggs, Vice President, Economic Opportunity & Markets, Ford Foundation
Gloria Bruce, Executive Director, East Bay Housing Organizations
Tony Salazar, President, West Coast Operations, McCormack Baron Salazar

Tomiquia Moss, Chief of Staff, Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf

Moderated by Joshua Johnson, Creator/Host, KQED’s Truth Be Told; Lecturer, U.C. Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism

Watch the video of this session:

The Future of Work

September 14, 2016


As the economy has improved across the Bay Area, not everyone has benefitted equally from economic gains and job growth. In fact, many haven’t benefitted at all.

While there is seemingly no shortage of high-paying jobs for workers with advanced degrees and a surplus of low wage jobs with little hope for advancement, there simply are not enough jobs that pay a wage that provide safety, security, and hope for a better future.

In this session, we will bring together leaders from the advocacy community and the business world to talk about what it will take to create good jobs that allow people to make a meaningful contribution to their community and the local economy, and to build a better life for their kids.

Orson Aguilar, President, Greenlining Institute
Carmen Rojas, CEO, Workers Lab
Jim Wunderman, President and CEO, Bay Area Council
Tim O’Reilly, Founder, O’Reilly Media

Moderated by Joshua Johnson, Creator/Host, Rockit Fuel Radio Podcast; Lecturer, U.C. Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism

Watch the video of this session:

Watch the highlights of the panel here.

Is the Rising Tide Lifting All Boats?

July 12, 2016


The Bay Area is at a crossroads. We live in one of the most industrious, exciting places anywhere. We know that our vitality, ingenuity and broad array of cultural identities make the region special. Yet we also know that we have significant challenges. People are worried about jobs, housing, transportation, and about making sure that everybody has the chance to participate, prosper and reach their full potential, regardless of their race or the neighborhood in which they live.

Is it possible to provide true opportunity for all residents of our region, or is the notion of Bay Area exceptionalism just a myth?

Libby Schaaf, Mayor of Oakland
James Bell, Civil Rights Leader; Executive Director, W. Hayward Burns Institute for Juvenile Justice, Fairness and Equality
Manuel Pastor, Demographer and Professor of Sociology, American Studies and Ethnicity, The University of Southern California

Moderated by Joshua Johnson, Creator/Host, Rockit Fuel Radio Podcast; Lecturer, U.C. Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism

Watch the video of this session:

Watch the highlights of the panel here.



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