About Us

Who We Are

Since 1983 Humanities West has been presenting the highlights of human history to Bay Area audiences through illuminating lectures and dynamic performances by scholars and artists that focus on the people, places, and events of the past which continue to influence our modern cultures. We have presented over 100 two-day programs over the decades —whose topics and details can be found in the chronological Catalog on this website.

Since 2021 Humanities West has expanded its reach by livestreaming our programs from the facilities of The Commonwealth Club and posting them on YouTube for an international audience. In our new two-hour livestream format, we continue to provide our audiences with in-depth historical background to enhance our understanding of what we have accomplished in our pursuit of civilization — and how we have done it.

Get Involved

Humanities West is an independent 501(c)3 non-profit organization which relies on individual donations, grants, and corporate financial support to create its programs.

We welcome your constructive suggestions and offers of assistance. And if you would like to help us plan our programs, please contact us:

Mail: P.O. Box 546, San Francisco, CA 94104
Email: info@humanitieswest.org
Telephone: 415.391.9700

Board of Directors

George Hammond

George Hammond


George Hammond (2007) is an international mergers and acquisitions attorney and the author of four novels, a collection of short stories, and six books on various philosophical issues. He has lectured on many different topics in various forums, including at Humanities West seminars and at the Commonwealth Club. He has a B.A. from Dartmouth College in Russian Literature and a J.D. from the University of Wisconsin.
Charles Bowman

Charles W. Bowman

Secretary Treasurer, Board of Directors

Charles W. Bowman (Secretary Treasurer) (1999) has been a licensed attorney and international tax specialist for more than 35 years. Now retired, he has participated in civic and pro bono publico professional activities, including the American Bar Association Indochinese Refugee Legal Assistance Program and the Bar Association of San Francisco Volunteer Legal Services Program. He has earned degrees from the University of Denver (B.A.-History and J.D.) and New York University (LL.M.-Taxation).
Jessica Hickok

Jessica Hickok

Vice Chair, Board of Directors

Jessica Hickok (2017) joined the Pisces Foundation, an environmental foundation based in San Francisco, as its first grants manager. She previously worked at two Bay Area philanthropies: The James Irvine Foundation and the Koret Foundation, as well as the Mpala Wildlife Foundation in Kenya. Jessica is Secretary of the Board of The Brooklyn Quarterly, a nonprofit literary endeavor; the regional membership chair of PEAK Grantmaking; and a volunteer metal fabricator and finance officer for the Flaming Lotus Girls, a collaborative, female-driven metal and fire arts group. A native of Brooklyn, New York, Jessica graduated from Princeton University with a Bachelor of Arts degree in comparative literature.
J. Fernando Corredor

J. Fernando Corredor

Board of Directors

J. Fernando Corredor (2009) is a medical device sales executive specialized in neuroscience activities. His previous non-profit board work includes the United Nations Association of the United States both in Boston and in San Francisco. He earned his BSBA from Boston University with a dual concentration in Organizational Behavior and International Management.
Kip Cranna

Clifford (Kip) Cranna

Board of Directors

Clifford (Kip) Cranna (2008), retired Dramaturg at San Francisco Opera, served on its staff since 1979. He has a BA in music from University of North Dakota and a PhD in musicology from Stanford. He has served as vocal adjudicator for numerous groups, including the Metropolitan Opera National Council. For 30 years he was Program Editor and Lecturer for the Carmel Bach Festival. He lectures and writes frequently on music, teaches at the San Francisco Conservatory and the Fromm Institute, and often moderates panel discussions such as the Opera Guild’s “Insights.” In 2008 he was awarded the San Francisco Opera Medal, the company’s highest honor, and in 2012 he received the Bernard Osher Cultural Award for distinguished efforts to bring excellence to a cultural institution. Dr. Cranna was a longtime member of the Board of Trustees of Chanticleer, a professional vocal ensemble. He is currently on the board of Humanities West and the Advisory Board of the contemporary music group Opera Parallèle.
Douglas Grigsby

Douglas C. Grigsby

Board of Directors

Douglas C. Grigsby (2007) retired as Chief Financial Officer of Bancwest Cor­poration. Doug was awarded a B.S. in Finance Magna Cum Laude by the University of Utah and he has thirty years of experience in the banking industry. Since his retirement he has served on the regional board of Recording for the Blind and Dyslexic. He is currently a volunteer in the California Fish and Wildlife Department’s National Resources Volunteer Program, participates in a volunteer program at the Veterans Hospital in Palo Alto, and plays bass in a Bay Area based band. He brings to Humanities West his love of history.
Margaret Hauben

Margaret Hauben

Director of Strategic Planning, Board of Directors

Margaret C. Hauben, Ed.D. (2011) is a consultant in education and project management who served as Assistant Superintendent of the Oakland Public Schools, as well as Adjunct Faculty member at Mills College, Holy Names College, and John F. Kennedy University. She has also served on the boards of Chabot Space & Science Center, Oakland; the California State Parks Foundation; and the School of Education, College of William and Mary, Virginia among other non-profit organizations. Margaret currently serves as a board member with the San Francisco Zoo. She is a docent at the California Academy of Sciences in San Francisco and a volunteer with the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco.
Jolene Huey

Jolene Huey

Board of Directors

Jolene Huey (2019) is a Human Resources practitioner who specializes in Compensation. Her current non-profit Board affiliations include Next Concept Human Resources Association (Chair of the East Bay Region) and Bay Area Compensation Association. She has a Bachelor’s degree in Health Sciences and a Master’s degree in Labor Economics from San Francisco State University. She has been a regular volunteer with many arts and cultural organizations including the Commonwealth Club, Mechanics Institute, Cal Performances, San Francisco Opera/Ballet and San Francisco Symphony for the last thirty years. Jolene is also a current tour guide with SF City Guides; leading tours at the Fairmont Hotel. Jolene’s cultural interests include Art History, Geography, Literature and Travel. Having worked in technology for many years, she is interested in exploring and exposing new audiences to the interdisciplinary aspects between Art, History and Technology.
Theresa Nelson

Theresa Nelson

Board of Directors

Theresa Nelson (2010) is the co-founder of Humanities West, and has re-joined the Board of Directors, after serving as a musical advisor on the HW Advisory Council and performing on HW programs. Theresa is the Principal of Theresa Nelson & Associates, a consulting firm dedicated to advising nonprofits on fundraising, board development, and strategic planning. She was an adjunct professor in University of San Francisco’s Institute for Nonprofit and Organization Management and a lecturer at UC Berkeley’s Haas School of Business Nonprofit program, and presents workshops for nonprofit organizations and conferences. Theresa is an active vocal soloist with the California Revels and Solstice Ensemble and appeared in opera productions with SF Opera Cabaret and Holy Names College. She co-produced a CD, “Lullaby My Sweet One,” with early music specialist Shira Kammen. Theresa is Vice-Chair of the Board of Children’s Fairyland in Oakland. She has an MBA in Nonprofit Management from Golden Gate University, and BS in Marketing with a minor in Humanities from University of Illinois Chicago.

Advisory Council

Eric Apfelstadt, PhD (Art History)

Director, Center for Global Initiatives, St Mary’s University (Los Angeles)

Kayleen Asbo, PhD

Cultural historian, musician, writer

Fred Astren, PhD

Chair of Jewish Studies, San Francisco State University

Meryl Bailey, JD, PhD (Art History)

Assistant Professor of Art History, Mills College

Monika J. Collins (Director of Development)

The Sciencenter, Ithaca NY

Rebekah Compton, PhD (Renaissance Art)

College of Charleston (South Carolina)

Walter Denny, PhD (Art History)

University of Massachusetts Amherst

Max Elijah Grossman, PhD (Art History)

University of Texas El Paso

Patrick Hunt, PhD (Archeology, Multidisciplinary Humanities)

Stanford University

Shira Kammen (Early Music Performer)

San Francisco

Douglas Kenning, PhD

Sicily Tour

Deborah Loft, PhD

Art History Professor, College of Marin

Nicholas McGegan (Conductor)

Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra, San Francisco

A. Kirk McKenzie

Attorney, Former Humanities West Director

Susan Petrakis, PhD


Peter O’M. Pierson, PhD (History)

Emeritus, Santa Clara University

Richard Savino, DMA (Lutenist)

Professor of Music, CSU Sacramento

Eleanor Selfridge-Field, PhD (Music)

Consulting Professor, Music and Symbolic Systems, Stanford University

Chuck Sieloff, PhD

Western European Historian

Elaine Thornburgh (Harpsichordist)

Founding President of Humanities West

Julia Trilling, MLA, PhD (Architecture and Urban Studies)

Senior Research Specialist, University of California Berkeley


Supporting Institutions

Cooperating Institutions

  • Bay Area Francophile
  • Commonwealth Club of California
  • The Contemporary Jewish Museum
  • Department of Classics and World and Comparative Literature, SFSU
  • Department of Italian Studies, UC Berkeley
  • Docents Council, Fine Arts Museum of San Francisco
  • Fromm Institute for Lifelong Learning
  • Hellenic-American Professional Society
  • History Reading Circle
  • Osher Lifelong Learning Institute (OLLI), Santa Clara University
  • Osher Lifelong Learning Institute (OLLI),UC Berkeley
  • Paris through Expatriate Eyes
  • San Francisco Unified School District
  • Oakland Unified School District
  • The San Francisco Modern Greek Film Festival
  • San Francisco State University Humanities Department
  • Stanford Arts Initiative
  • Stanford Center for Medieval and Early Modern Studies
  • Stanford University Libraries
  • San Francisco Opera

Annual Reports