DIRECTORS, OFFICERS AND ADVISORS
FOUNDING DIRECTORS AND OFFICERS
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 international corporations to municipalities, hospitals, universities and the United States Department of Defense. His special contribution to the Foundation lies in forming its appeal to the cultural values of chief executives who wish to support its effort to bring the conception of a transcendental culture before a broad and various public.
Mr. Edmond Krafchow lives in San Francisco and serves the Foundation as Director. He is the owner and Chairman of the Board of Better Homes and Gardens/Mason McDuffie Real Estate, the oldest and among the largest privately held real estate concerns in the western United States. Mr. Krafchow has been an intimate of the Innermost House Conversation experiment since 2005, and has the deepest understanding both of its promise and its challenges. He guides the Foundation in all matters of formation, direction and growth, particularly at the margin of possibility where transcendental idealism must answer to practical realities.
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. To her, Innermost House represents an American spirituality of place-culture.
Mr. Michael Lorence lives in San Francisco and serves the Foundation as President and Director. He has been reading the American founding documents and the writings of the transcendentalists with men and women of industry for thirty years, serving as a guide to educated readers who have chosen to pursue careers in industry and the professions rather than scholarship. He is the creator of several prototypes of the Innermost House conversation as experimental, voluntary associations of leaders in industry and the professions, seeking to transcend the boundaries of specialized knowledge and practice through contemplative discourse.
Mr. Sean Skelley lives in Washington DC and serves the Foundation as Director. He is President of Sears Home Services, and previously served as President of Best Buy International, where he developed the Geek Squad into a cultural icon of the computer age. Mr. Skelley has been a regular participant in the Innermost House Conversation for many years and was variously 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 by providing them with an extraordinary ideal. His special expertise lies in communicating new ideas in ways that are compelling and actionable.
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 founding director of Greenlight LLC, a pioneer in 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, and use of the electronic media to communicate a message of American Transcendentalism to modern audiences.
Mr. Bradley Clayton lives in Mesa, Arizona, and serves the Foundation as Treasurer. Mr. Clayton is an independent mergers and acquisitions consultant with a wide experience of finance and business analysis 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 be a renewal of fundamental principles, the establishment of an experimental axis from which to gain a point of view equal to the needs of our changing world.
Mr. Mark Lorence lives in Southern Pines, North Carolina, and serves the Foundation as Corporate Secretary and general legal advisor. 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 as Senior Counsel and Senior Vice President for First Citizens Bank in North Carolina. He has extensive experience in matters of corporate formation, structure, and governance, and has served as corporate secretary for various for-profit and non-profit organizations. He has also served as a bar association president, adjunct professor of law, and guest lecturer to professional groups.
FOUNDING ADVISORY COUNCIL
Mr. William Barker lives in Williamsburg, Virginia, and advises the Foundation in all matters concerning Thomas Jefferson. Mr. Barker is associated with the Colonial Williamsburg, Monticello and Poplar Forest, where he is the nation's leading scholar-interpreter of America's Founding Father. He is half professional actor, 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 living knowledge of our founding ideals.
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 Penn State University, with degrees from Oberlin and Harvard. She is past president of the Emerson Society, and current president of the Margaret Fuller Society. Dr. Cole is a frequent speaker at national forums on transcendentalism.
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, 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 literature, philosophy and politics.
Ms. Kirsten Dirksen lives in Paris, France, and advises the Foundation on contemporary 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 nearly 700,000 viewers, and she has continued to support the work of the Foundation in her role as a leader in sustainability studies.
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 therapy. Joanna sees Innermost House as living myth, and its program of outreach as culturally therapeutic at a fundamental level of experience.
Dr. Charles Fracchia lives in San Francisco and advises the Foundation on California history. Dr. Fracchia has published many books on the history of San Francisco. He has taught at the City College of San Francisco, San Francisco State and the University of San Francisco. He is the Founder and President Emeritus of the San Francisco Historical Society and a Fellow of the California Historical Society. He 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, Transcendentalism generally, and literary nonprofit work. Mr. Frederick is the Executive Director of the Thoreau Society, the oldest and largest author society in America. 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.
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 in over a hundred nations of the world. He has continued to support the Foundation in its mission of outreach to a wide audience.
Dr. Robert Gross lives in Concord, Massachusetts, and advises the foundation in the historical context of American Transcendentalism and Republicanism. 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 general audiences.
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 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 fifty year ago. To Mr. Harding's generous conception, Innermost House is a Walden West, newly animating the inspiration of Henry David Thoreau.
Mr. Greg Heinemann lives in Minneapolis, Minnesota, and advises the Foundation in matters of organizational conception, marketing, branding and presentation. Mr. Heinemann is a widely successful director and entrepreneur in the profit and nonprofit sectors, most recently founding Titus Oates LLC as a leading strategy hub. He has known Innermost House for ten years, and views it as the center of an American culture largely obscured from view by industrialism and technology.
Ms. Diana Lorence lives in San Francisco and serves the Foundation as writer, speaker, photographer and curator. She appears across the country as a speaker on the simple life, 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.
Dr. Nikita Pokrovsky lives in Moscow, Russia, and advises the Foundation in its relation to the 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, and is Russia's leading scholar of Henry Thoreau and American Transcendentalism. He is also creator of a parallel experiment in Thoreavian simplicity in 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 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 he published the first article about Innermost House to appear in a national magazine.
Ms. Zahraa Saiyed lives in Fremont, California, and serves the Foundation as Director of Membership. Ms. Saiyed is an Earthquake Risk Reduction Consultant to the City of San Francisco, with a focus 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 America, the one book indispensable to the work of the Foundation.
Dr. John Stauffer lives in Cambridge, Massachusetts and advises the Foundation on the African American experience and Transcendentalism. He is a leading authority on American culture, antislavery and the Civil War era. Dr. Stauffer is Professor of English and American Literature, American Studies and African American Studies at Harvard University. He 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 Best Buy. Mr. Stephen's passion for the authentic touches everything he does, and since 2008 he has seen Innermost House as a lightening rod of living authenticity. His originality and insight make him much in demand as an advisor and speaker across the country.
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, which also houses the important John Muir papers as original sources for Muir research. 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 public relations consultant to high technology companies in the San Francisco Bay Area. 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 of Writing and Rhetoric at the State University of New York, Stony Brook, Program Chair of the Ralph Waldo Emerson Society, and Senior Editor at Don't Take Pictures, a leading professional magazine of fine art photography. He understands the work of the Foundation as a woodland experiment in the larger tradition of Humane Letters.
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 American expression of the monastic impulse, and guides the Foundation from his perspective as a professional monastic.
Dr. Robert C. Wilburn lives in Washington DC and advises the Foundation across the whole field of cultural philanthropy. Dr. Wilburn is 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 the nation's leading chief executive of cultural nonprofit institutions, with special expertise in large capital programs of institutional renewal.
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 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.