I see a time when all the colors of mankind will gather under the Sacred Tree of Life and the whole Earth will become one circle again. —Crazy Horse

 
 

If you have built castles in the air, your work need not be lost; that is where they should be. Now put the foundations under them.
Henry David Thoreau, Walden
 

 

A FOUNDATION OF FRIENDS
in a Spirit of Philanthropy
 

 

The Innermost House Foundation is a philanthropic organization inspired by the "voluntary associations" so much admired by early observers of the American experiment, where private individuals organized the conversation of civic life together to raise the level of cultural opportunity available to all.

Our living foundations consist in the friends who voluntarily give their time, counsel, resources and example to the "dream too wild" of a practical idealism renewed at its roots. Through them, we stand on foundations as deep as history and as wide as the world. We are a conversation of friends, dedicated to a living ideal. 
 

 
 

 
 

BOARD OF DIRECTORS

Mr. John Gillis
Co-Founder and Principal
Vision Systems

Ms. Melinda Levin
Professor of Documentary Media
University of North Texas

Mr. Michael Lorence
Founder and Principal
Chief Executive Counsel

Mr. Sean Skelley
Past President
Best Buy International

Mr. Robert Wolf
Chief Executive Officer
Better Homes & Gardens Real Estate

OFFICERS

Mr. John Gillis
Chairman of the Board of Directors

Mr. Michael Lorence
President

Mr. Bradley Clayton
Treasurer

Mr. Mark Lorence
Secretary

Mr. Edmond Krafchow
Chairman of the Advisory Council


ADVISORY COUNCIL
 

 

Mr. Edmond Krafchow, Chairman
Chairman and Principal
Mason-McDuffie

Mr. William Barker
Thomas Jefferson Scholar
Colonial Williamsburg Foundation

Dr. Phyllis Cole
Professor Emerita of English
Pennsylvania State University

Dr. Thomas Constantinesco
Professor of English
University of Paris

Ms. Lisa Coscino
Executive Director
New Museum Los Gatos (NUMU)

Ms. Kirsten Dirksen
Founder, Principal and Producer
Fair Companies Videos

Dr. James Engell
Professor of English & Comp. Literature
Harvard University

Ms. Joanna Clyde Findlay
Art Psychotherapist
Professor of Psychology

Dr. Charles Fracchia
Founder & President Emeritus
San Francisco Historical Society

Mr. Michael Frederick
Executive Director
Thoreau Society

Mr. Miguel Gomez-Ibanez
President
North Bennet Street School

Mr. Kent Griswold
Founder and Principal
Tiny House Blog Publications

Dr. Robert Gross
Professor Emeritus of American History
University of Connecticut

Rev. Ulrich Haas
Zen Priest and Urasenke Tea Master
Rinzai Temple Gen Rin Zen Kutsu

Mr. Allen Harding
Director & Patron
Thoreau Society

Mr. Greg Heinemann
Venture Philanthropist
Titus Oates LLC

Dr. Jeffrey Klee
Senior Architectural Historian
Colonial Williamsburg Foundation

Ms. Diana Lorence
Curator, Writer and Speaker
Innermost House Foundation

Ms. Laura Mays
President and Program Director
The Krenov School, Mendocino College

Mr. Christopher Nelson
President Emeritus
St. John's College

Dr. Nikita Pokrovsky
Chair of General Sociology
HSE University, Mosco

Mr. Shax Riegler
Executive Editor
Architectural Digest Magazine

Ms. Zahraa Saiyed
Architect and Engineer
City of San Francisco

Dr. David E. Shi
President Emeritus
Furman University

Mr. Daniel Springer
Chief Executive Officer
Docusign

Dr. John Stauffer
Professor of African American Studies
Harvard University

Mr. Robert Stephens
Founder & Principal
Geek Squad

Dr. William Swagerty
Professor of History and Director
John Muir Center

Mr. Hamza Syed
Computer Systems Specialist
Periscope Data, Inc.

Ms. Yuiko Tokugawa
Urasenke Tea Master
Kyoto, Japan

Dr. Roger Thompson
Professor and Program Chair
Ralph Waldo Emerson Society

Br. George Van Grieken
President Emeritus
St. Joseph's International School

Dr. William White
Visiting Scholar in American History
Christopher Newport University

Dr. Robert C. Wilburn
Chief Executive Officer
Medal of Honor Museum Foundation

Ms. Terry Tempest Williams
Author and Writer-in-Residence
Harvard University Divinity School

Mr. Clint Wilson
President and Principal
Tribeca Properites

Mr. Robert Yagid
Editor in Chief
Fine Homebuilding Magazine



SPECIAL CONSULTANTS

Mr. Anthony Dutra
Chief Executive Officer
Dutra Land

Mr. Maurice Lombardo
Mr. Thomas Taylor

Taylor Lombardo Architects

 

 

 

CURRICULA VITAE
 

Mr. John Gillis lives in San Diego and serves the Foundation as Chairman of the Board of Directors. He is principal and co-founder of Vision Systems, an industry leader in the design, engineering, development, fabrication and installation of specialized architectural systems for clients ranging from museums and municipalities, to commercial organizations, to hospitals and universities, to the United States Department of Defense. His purpose for the Foundation lies in its power to reinvigorate a transcendental American culture for present and future generations.

Mr. Edmond Krafchow lives in Maui and serves the Foundation as Chairman of the Advisory Council. Mr. Krafchow is principal and Chairman of Mason McDuffie Real Estate, the longest established privately held real estate concern in the American West, and historic patron of Ansel Adams and the Sierra Club. A lifelong student of ancient Middle Eastern languages and religious culture, he has been an intimate of the Innermost House experiment since 2005, and has a deep understanding of its promise and its challenges. He guides the Foundation at the spiritual margins of practical possibility.

Ms. Melinda Levin lives in Denton, Texas, and serves the Foundation as Director. Ms. Levin is Professor of Documentary Media, past Department Chair and present Director of the Master of Fine Arts program in Documentary Production and Studies at the University of North Texas. She is also director, producer, cinematographer and editor of many award-winning documentary films, specializing in environmental and cultural subjects. Ms. Levin guides the Foundation in its centrally important program of virtual outreach, particularly through the medium of photography and documentary film. 

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Mr. Sean Skelley lives in Washington DC and serves the Foundation as Director. He is is past President of Best Buy International, where he developed the Geek Squad into an icon of the computer age, and is now a principal in winery concerns in Virginia and California. Mr. Skelley has been a regular participant in the Innermost House Conversation for many years, and was involved in the development of its several prototypes. He speaks for the longevity of the project over decades, its durability and adaptability, and its proven capacity to liberate people with an extraordinary ideal.  

Mr. Robert Wolf lives in Orinda, California, and serves the Foundation as Director. He is the chief executive officer of Better Homes and Gardens/Mason McDuffie Real Estate, and is a pioneer in the field of predictive analytics. Mr. Wolf has previously founded, developed and sold several companies in the fields of predictive analytics and marketing technology. He is the author of numerous patents in media, marketing, targeting, retail and digital networks. Mr. Wolf guides the Foundation particularly in matters of branding, positioning, marketing.

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Mr. Michael Lorence lives in San Francisco and Virginia, and serves the Foundation as President and Director. He has been reading the American founding documents, the writings of the transcendentalists, and classical literature more largely with leaders for thirty years, serving as a guide to educated people who have chosen to pursue careers in industry and the professions. He is the creator of the Innermost House conversation as an experimental association of leaders seeking to transcend the boundaries of specialized knowledge and practice through contemplative discourse.

Mr. Bradley Clayton lives in Mesa, Arizona, and serves the Foundation as Treasurer. He is founder and Principal at Clayton & Associates, an independent mergers and acquisitions firm serving clients in industries from insurance to technology to real estate. He is also founder of his own radio talk show on entrepreneurship, and holds degrees from Brigham Young University and the W. P. Carey School of Business. Mr. Clayton understands the work of the Foundation to represent a renewal of fundamental principles, equal to the needs of our changing world.

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Mr. Mark Lorence lives in Southern Pines, North Carolina, and serves the Foundation as Secretary. Mr. Lorence is an attorney-at-law with over thirty years experience representing businesses, nonprofits and municipalities, most lately serving as General Counsel for Edgecombe College and Senior Vice President of First Citizens Bank in North Carolina. He has guided various for-profit and non-profit organizations in matters of formation and governance. Mr. Lorence has also served as a bar association president, adjunct professor of law, and guest lecturer to professional groups. 
 

 

 

Mr. William Barker lives in Williamsburg, Virginia, and advises the Foundation in all matters concerning Thomas Jefferson. Mr. Barker is associated with Colonial Williamsburg, Monticello and Poplar Forest, where he is the nation's leading scholar-interpreter of America's Founding Father. He is one half professional actor, one half professional scholar, and, if one may say so, a third half Thomas Jefferson himself. He has created a unique career for himself, and embodies a rare and living knowledge of our founding ideals, challenges and possibilities. 

Dr. Phyllis Cole lives in Pennsylvania and advises the Foundation in the field of American women in Transcendentalism, upon which she is the leading authority. Dr. Cole is Professor Emerita of English, Women's Studies and American Studies at Pennsylvania State University. Among other works, she is author of the beautiful book, Mary Moody Emerson and the Origins of Transcendentalism. She is past president of the Emerson Society and current president of the Margaret Fuller Society. Dr. Cole is a scholar and teacher beloved of many for her wonderful generosity of spirit.

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Dr. Thomas Constantinesco lives in Paris, France, and advises the Foundation on the study of Ralph Waldo Emerson and American Transcendentalism from a continental European perspective. Dr. Constantinesco is Lecturer on 19th Century American Literature at the University of Paris, has previously taught at Oxford and Yale, and is a director of the Ralph Waldo Emerson Society at Texas A&M University. His research interests lie particularly in the relation of Transcendentalism to the broader field of 19th century literature, philosophy and politics.

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Ms. Lisa Coscino lives in San Francisco and advises the Foundation on the arts, art curatorship and nonprofit arts administration. Ms. Coscino is Executive Director of New Museum Los Gatos (NUMU), and past Executive Director of the Museum of Monterey. NUMU is a California museum specializing in innovative curatorial projects, sponsored studio work and art education. Ms. Coscino's gift is for creating dynamic exhibition, marketing and fundraising programs for the arts, specializing in conservation and socially conscious campaigns, blending the worlds of art and commerce.

Ms. Kirsten Dirksen lives in Paris, France, and advises the Foundation on contemporary simplicity and sustainability culture. Ms. Dirksen is the owner and editor of Faircompanies, the world's leading source of sustainability filmography and a kind of Whole Earth Catalog for the digital age. Her sensitive and poetic video of the Innermost House prototype introduced our work to over a million viewers, and she has continued to support the work of the Foundation as a faithful friend, advisor, and leading chronicler of sustainability culture.

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Dr. James Engell lives in Cambridge, Massachusetts, and advises the foundation in the broad field of the Enlightenment, 18th and 19th century literature, and the environment. Dr. Engell is Gurney Professor of English and Professor of Comparative Literature at Harvard University, and a faculty associate of the Harvard University Center for the Environment. He has published many books and professional articles, including, most recently, a beautiful edition of Wordsworth's Prelude. Dr. Engell is as much beloved for his personal humanity as he is admired for his breadth of learning.

Ms. Joanna Clyde Findley lives in Sausalito, California, and advises the Foundation at the academic and clinical crossroads of psychology, art and neuroscience. Ms. Findlay is a practicing psychotherapist and Adjunct Professor of Art at the California Institute of Integral Studies. She publishes widely on the neurobiology of art, and maintains an active practice in art therapy, with clients from preschool age to mature adults. Joanna understands Innermost House as living myth, and its program of outreach as culturally therapeutic at a fundamental level of public experience.

Dr. Charles Fracchia lives in San Francisco and advises the Foundation on San Francisco and California history. Dr. Fracchia has published many books on the history of San Francisco, is the Founder and Chairman of the San Francisco Historical Society and Museum, and is a Fellow of the California Historical Society. He has taught at the City College of San Francisco, San Francisco State and the University of San Francisco. Dr. Fracchia understands the work of the foundation as another chapter in California's search for the ideal.

Mr. Michael Frederick lives in Concord, Massachusetts, and advises the Foundation in a variety of matters concerning Henry David Thoreau, Walden, and literary nonprofit work. Mr. Frederick is the Executive Director of the Thoreau Society, the oldest and largest author society in America. He was educated at Harvard University and the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern. He has been a faithful friend and champion of Innermost House in scholarly circles for years, and continues to guide the foundation in matters of academic and cultural outreach. 

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Mr. Miguel Gomez-Ibanez lives in Middlesex County, Massachusetts, and advises the Foundation in all matters of fine traditional craft. Mr. Gomez-Ibanez is President of the North Bennet Street School in Boston, the oldest and most distinguished college of fine hand craft in the country, featuring career programs in craft trades from fine bookbinding to cabinetmaking to jewelry making to piano and violin building. Himself a distinguished architect and furniture maker, Mr. Gomez-Ibanez is a national leader in the movement to renew the future of fine artisanship in the modern world. 

Mr. Kent Griswold lives in Bend, Oregon, and advises the Foundation on all aspects of the modern small house movement. Mr. Griswold is the owner and editor of the Tiny House Blog, the world's leading source of information on simple living in small spaces. He was the first publisher to solicit an article about Innermost House, which was subsequently read by over a million people in a hundred nations of the world. He has continued to support the Foundation in its mission of outreach to a wide audience with a message of simplicity, small spaces and mature spirituality.

Dr. Robert Gross lives in Concord, Massachusetts, and advises the Foundation in the historical context of American Transcendentalism and the Republicanism of the founding generation. Dr. Gross is Draper Professor of Early American History at the University of Connecticut and past Director of American Studies at the College of William & Mary. He is author of the Bancroft Prize-winning classic, The Minutemen and their World, and its forthcoming sequel, The Transcendentalists and their World, as well as publishing widely to professional and general audiences. 

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Rev. Ulrich Haas lives in Vörstetten, near Freiburg, Germany, and advises the Foundation from the perspective of classical Zen practice and the tradition of Japanese Tea Ceremony. Rev. Haas (Sôshiki Seizen) is an ordained Japanese Zen priest and founder of the Rinzai Zen Temple Gen Rin Zen Kutsu in Germany. He is among Europe's leading Tea Masters, representing the Urasenke Tankokai Federation of Kyoto to cultural organizations and universities on several continents. To Rev. Haas, Innermost House is a modern incarnation of Hōjōki, the famous "Ten Foot Square Hut" of medieval Japan.

Mr. Allen Harding lives in New York City and serves as special joint project liaison between the Foundation and the Thoreau Society. Mr. Harding is a director and patron of the Thoreau Society, and son and heir to the literary legacy of Walter Harding, the 20th century's leading Thoreau scholar and founder of the Thoreau Society seventy five years ago. To Mr. Harding's generous conception, Innermost House is a a kind of "Walden West," gathering together the several loci of American Transcendentalism and newly animating the inspiration of Henry David Thoreau for modern times

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Dr. Jeffrey Klee lives in Williamsburg, Virginia and advises the Foundation from the perspective of early American architectural history. Dr. Klee is the Shirley and Richard Roberts Architectural Historian at the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation, where he lectures and writes on vernacular architecture, pursues field research and develops designs for the reconstruction of historic buildings. He also serves as executive and editorial board member of the Vernacular Architecture Forum, and as Editor in Chief with the Society of Architectural Historians. 

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Ms. Diana Lorence lives in Williamsburg, Virginia and serves the Foundation as curator, writer, speaker and photographer. Since her introduction by the Thoreau Society at Walden Pond in Concord, Massachusetts, Ms. Lorence has appeared across the country as a speaker on the simple life in the woods, and her writings and photographs have gained an audience for the Foundation in every state in the nation and in nearly every nation of the world, reaching hundreds of thousands of people with a message of simplicity, spirituality and soul-reliance.

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Ms. Laura Mays lives in Fort Bragg, California and advises the foundation with her knowledge and passion for the art of fine furniture making. Ms. Mays is Program Director of The Krenov School of Fine Woodworking at Mendocino College, the leading creative woodworking program in the country. She holds a degree in architecture from University College Dublin, and is principal in the design firm of Yaffe Mays. She is also founding President of The Krenov Foundation, a non-profit organization whose mission is to teach and support the craft of fine woodworking.

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Mr. Christopher Nelson lives in Annapolis, Maryland and advises the Foundation in its centrally important mission of unifying knowledge through the liberal arts. Mr. Nelson is President Emeritus of St. John's College, among the nation's oldest colleges and the leading example of the classical curriculum in America today. He has served as chairman of the National Association of Independent Colleges and Universities, and as founding president of the law firm, Kovar Nelson Brittain Sledz & Morris in Chicago. Mr. Nelson is a lifelong advocate of unity in diversity and liberty through liberal learning.

Dr. Nikita Pokrovsky lives in Moscow, Russia, and advises the Foundation in its relation to the perennial idea of simple living in general, and to international Thoreau studies in particular. Dr. Pokrovsky is Chairman of General Sociology at the Higher School of Economics University in Moscow, President of the Society of Professional Sociologists, and Russia's leading scholar of Henry David Thoreau and American Transcendentalism. He is also creator of a parallel experiment in Thoreavian simplicity with a Walden replica cabin and writer's retreat in the forests of Siberia.

Mr. Shax Riegler lives in New York City and guides the Foundation in the world of professional arts publication. Mr. Riegler is Executive Editor at Architectural Digest magazine, and publishes widely in the field of design, travel and food, and collecting. Before AD he was executive editor of House Beautiful, and has held editorial positions at House & Garden, Martha Stewart Living, Travel & Leisure, and Vogue. In 2011, Mr. Riegler published the first article about the Innermost House project to appear in a national magazine.

Ms. Zahraa Saiyed lives in Fremont, California, and guides the Foundation in membership formation. Ms. Saiyed is co-founder and principal of Scyma Design & Consulting, and Earthquake Risk Reduction Consultant to the City of San Francisco, focusing on creating resilient, sustainable communities and built environments. She holds degrees in architecture and engineering from MIT. Her special interest in the Transcendentalism represented by the Foundation lies in its capacity to authentically unify a cosmopolitan plurality of races, religions, ages and genders.

Dr. David E. Shi lives in the highlands of North Carolina and advises the Foundation on American history and the simple life in America. Dr. Shi is President Emeritus and Professor of History at Furman University, where is also founder of the Shi Center for Sustainability. He is the author of the best-selling text, America: A Narrative History, as well as many other books, including the classic, The Simple Life: Plain Living and High Thinking in American Culture, the one book that provides the essential link between Innermost House and the inward strain of American history.

Mr. Daniel Springer lives in San Francisco and advises the Foundation in the broad sphere of prudential relations, particularly in forming its message to the business and technology communities. Mr. Springer is Chief Executive Officer of Docusign, the world leader in the field of electronic signature technology. He also serves as Chairman of the Board of Ansira, a data-driven marketing agency, and of Heighten, a computer software firm, as well as Operating Partner of Advent International. In addition, Mr. Springer serves on the Board of Trustees of the Urban School of San Francisco.

Dr. John Stauffer lives in Cambridge, Massachusetts and advises the Foundation on the African American experience and Transcendentalism. Dr. Stauffer is Professor of English and American Literature, American Studies and African American Studies at Harvard University. He is a leading authority on 19th century American culture, antislavery and the Civil War era, and the art of photography, and is the author of nineteen books and many articles, including the stunning biography, Giants: The Parallel Lives of Frederick Douglass and Abraham Lincoln.

Mr. Robert Stephens lives in Sonoma, California, and advises the Foundation in matters of authenticity, branding, and virtual outreach. He is Founder of the Geek Squad, a renegade concept he built into an international icon in partnership with Best Buy. His originality and insight make him much in demand as an inspiring speaker across the country, and as a consultant, particularly to promising new ventures. Mr. Stephen's passion for the authentic touches everything he does, and since 2008 he has understood Innermost House as a touchstone of living authenticity.

Dr. William Swagerty lives in Stockton, California, and represents the literary and environmental legacy of John Muir to the Foundation. Dr. Swagerty is Professor of History and Co-Director of the John Muir Center at the University of the Pacific. He has served as visiting scientist at the National Museum of Natural History and fellow at the Ford Foundation and the National Park Service, and is currently a Fulbright Senior Specialist. His specialties include John Muir and the native peoples, the prehistory of North America, and the economic dynamics of human subsistence.

Mr. Hamza Syed lives in Berkeley, California, and advises the Foundation in its approach to the new generation of Millennials, particularly through the electronic media. Mr. Syed is a computer systems specialist and business representative at Periscope Data, building dashboards and charting systems for data scientists and analysts, and a San Francisco Fellow of the New Leaders Council. He is also a practicing Pakistani Muslim, and guides the Foundation in exploring connections between Transcendentalism and Islam. 

Dr. Roger Thompson lives in New York and advises the Foundation in its association with academic, literary and artistic institutions. Dr. Thompson is Associate Professor and Program Chair of Writing and Rhetoric at the State University of New York, Stony Brook. He also serves as Program Chair of the Ralph Waldo Emerson Society, and as Senior Editor for Don't Take Pictures, a leading professional magazine of fine art photography. Dr. Thompson understands the work of the Foundation as a woodland experiment in the larger tradition of Humane Letters. 

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Ms. Yuiko Tokugawa lives in Kyoto, Japan and advises the Foundation from her native perspective of classical Japanese culture. Ms. Tokugawa began her study of the ancient art of Chanoyu in Japan when she was eight years old. She later continued her studies  in Europe with the leading tea master, Rev. Ulrich Haas, before returning to Kyoto to enter the Urasenke lineage of practice, descended directly from Sen no Rikyu in the 16th century. To Ms. Tokugawa, Innermost House represents the Buddhist ideal of nothingness or "Mu," which means, "to meet the heart of Buddha."

Brother George Van Grieken, FSC lives in Napa, California, and advises the foundation on monastic culture and spirituality. Brother George is President Emeritus of St. Joseph's Institution International, Singapore, and a Director of St. Mary's College and the Lasallian schools. Eight years ago, he was among the first to recognize Innermost House as an underived, original American expression of the monastic impulse, and guides the Foundation from his perspective as a professional monastic and representative of one of the world's great spiritual traditions.

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Dr. William White lives in Williamsburg, Virginia and advises the Foundation in the development and use of educational media. Dr. White is a Visiting Scholar in American History at Christopher Newport University, and retired as Royce R. and Kathryn M. Baker Vice President of Productions, Publications and Learning Ventures at the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation, where he headed website production, journal and book publishing, photography, audio and video production, the national teacher initiative, the Emmy-winning electronic field trip series, and all activities for K-16 classrooms.

Dr. Robert C. Wilburn lives in Washington DC and advises the Foundation across the whole field of cultural philanthropy. Dr. Wilburn is founding President and CEO of the National Medal of Honor Museum Foundation, and President Emeritus of the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation, the Gettysburg Foundation, the Carnegie Institute and Indiana University of Pennsylvania. He is among the nation's leading chief executives of cultural nonprofit institutions, with uniquely broad experience and special expertise in large capital programs of institutional renewal.

Ms. Terry Tempest Williams lives in Utah and guides the foundation with her lifelong commitment to healing the meeting places of nature, culture and spirit. Ms. Williams is presently Writer-in-Residence at the Harvard Divinity School. She is the author of many books, weaving together strands of autobiography, poetry, ecology, and wilderness. Among dozens of awards, she has been honored with the Distinguished Achievement Award from the Western American Literature Association, the Robert Marshall Award from the Wilderness Society, and the John Muir Award from the Sierra Club.

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Mr. Clint Wilson lives in Santa Rosa, California and serves the Foundation as Chief Land Advisor and representative in California. Mr. Wilson is president and principal of Tribeca Properties, and past principal of Coldwell Banker North Properties. A civic leader in the California Wine Country, he has served on many boards, and as president of the Sonoma County Alliance and the Redwood Empire Boy Scouts of America. He was active in the creation of the Sonoma County Open Space District, preserving over 100,000 acres of undeveloped land. Mr. Wilson is a longtime host of the Innermost House Conversation.

Mr. Robert Yagid lives in Connecticut and serves the Foundation as Chief Building Advisor. He is Editor in Chief of Fine Homebuilding Magazine and Green Building Advisor, the leading journals on fine building craft and environmentally responsible construction. Mr. Yagid champions the traditional building trades as repositories of traditional knowledge, responsible employment and practical wisdom. To him, Innermost House represents a coming together of the trade crafts to a high purpose, for the benefit of all. 

 

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