Charles A. Fracchia, Founder & President Emeritus
John Briscoe, President
San Francisco poet, author, lawyer, and UC scholar John Briscoe is a founding partner of the law firm Briscoe Ivester & Bazel LLP in San Francisco. He has written extensively on history, international environmental law, and law of the sea. He has tried and argued cases in The Hague, the U.S. Supreme Court, and scores of other courts. He is also an author: The Tadich Grill: The Story of San Francisco’s Oldest Restaurant, with Recipes (2002); The Lost Poems of Cang Jie (2016); and Crush: The Triumph of California Wine (2018). He is a trustee of the San Francisco Maritime National Park Association; a board member of the Historical Society of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California and a Distinguished Fellow at the University of California, Berkeley.
Tom Owens, 1st Vice President
Thomas R. Owens earned a B.A. and a J.D. from the University of Pennsylvania. He moved to California in 1970, where he practiced real estate law for ten years. Starting in 1980 he has served as partner, COO, and principal of Pacific Union Co. In 1998 Tom formed Sagamore Equities, which became New Urban Properties in 2004. Since then, Tom has operated New Urban Properties, which acquires and manages office buildings throughout the West. Mr. Owens is now New Urban’s CEO and sole investor. Tom has served on numerous boards and commissions. He is currently a trustee of the California Historical Society. He is also a member of various professional organizations, including Lambda Alpha Honorary Real Estate Society and the California and Federal Bars. Tom resides in San Francisco with his wife, D’Arcy, and their two children.
Mike Fitzgerald, 2nd Vice President
Mike Fitzgerald served as the Senior Vice President, Global Human Resources of ZELTIQ Aesthetics until 2017. Prior to joining ZELTIQ, Fitzgerald was the Executive Vice President, Global Human Resources for Cepheid 2012–17, where he was responsible for devising and implementing the company’s human capital strategy and associated programs. Before joining Cepheid, he served as the Senior Vice President of Global Human Resources at Verigy from 2010 to 2012. Fitzgerald was Vice President of Human Resources at Varian 2007–10, and before that, he became the Global Director of HR Strategy and Planning for Vodafone Group 1995–2006. Fitzgerald earned a bachelor’s degree in political science from UC Berkeley, a master’s degree from the London School of Economics, a master’s at McGill University in Montreal, and a postgraduate diploma at Trinity College, Dublin. He is a current participant in the inaugural master’s degree program in Social Innovation at the University of Cambridge Judge Business School.
Jack Lapidos, Treasurer
Jack Lapidos was born in Chicago and received his B.S. in mechanical engineering, Illinois Institute of Technology in 1965 and MBA in tax and finance at the University of Chicago in 1967. He moved to San Francisco in 1969 and developed a great fondness for the history of the Bay Area. To pursue this interest, Jack has supported numerous nonprofits devoted to the preservation of San Francisco Bay Area history. He is currently on the boards or treasurer of: San Francisco Maritime Museum Association, Potomac Association, and Presidio Historical Association, Nature Bridge, Touch Inc. (his own private foundation). He is the former director of Museum of American Heritage and Jeremiah O’Brien Liberty Ship. In real life, in 1974 he founded an accounting practice that caters to small businesses and well-to-do individuals.
Kevin Pursglove, Secretary
Kevin Pursglove is the former senior director of corporate communications at eBay. He has also served as director of communications for former San Jose mayor Susan Hammer. For many years he was a well-known voice on the radio: from 1979 through 1992, he was a reporter, program host, and public affairs director at KQED radio. Pursglove holds a B.A. in political science from San Francisco State University. He has served on the SFHS board of directors since 2012 and has extensive volunteer experience with the World Affairs Council of Northern California, Jewish Sports Hall of Fame, San Francisco State University, Commonwealth Club of California, and more.
Charles A. Fracchia, Founder and President Emeritus
Charles Fracchia, a renowned San Francisco historian founded the San Francisco Historical Society in 1988. He was the Society’s president prior to the merger with the Museum of the City of San Francisco, and served as the president of the San Francisco Historical Society through February 2005. Fracchia continues to serve on the Board of Directors, chairs the Council of Advisors, and manages the Society’s publications. He is a native San Franciscan who attended local schools and received his B.A. in history from the University of San Francisco. He did graduate work at the University of San Francisco Law School; University of California, Berkeley; San Francisco State University; and the Graduate Theological Union in Berkeley.
Fracchia has taught at City College of San Francisco and the University of San Francisco, lectures extensively throughout the Bay Area, and has been an investment banker for over 30 years. He has written several books including Fire and Gold: The San Francisco Story, City by the Bay: A History of San Francisco 1945 to the Present, and When the Water Came Up to Montgomery Street: San Francisco During the Gold Rush. He has been a trustee of the California Historical Society, and is a member of the Leadership San Francisco Advisory Board of the Chamber of Commerce.
Rodger Birt, Director
Rodger Birt is Professor Emeritus at San Francisco State University. Before his retirement he taught American Studies courses in the Humanities Department. Professor Birt’s research areas are the history of American photography and American visual studies. He currently is a lecturer at the Fromm Institute at the University of San Francisco. He recently finished a memoir dealing with photography and its relationship to autobiography. He received his B.A. and M.A. in history from Indiana University and his Ph.D. in American Studies from Yale University.
Mary Duffy, Director
Mary Duffy’s retail career with Macy’s in San Francisco spanned 34 years and included several merchandising roles: buyer, Vice President of Merchandise Planning, Director of Merchant Learning and Development, and Director of Macy’s Personal Shopping Service and Wedding Gift Registry. While working hard at Macy’s, Mary helped and supported her husband in running the Old Ship Saloon, a Barbary Coast treasure. After buying the bar and restaurant (then Brick’s Bar & Grill) in 1992, Bill and Mary renovated and reopened under its original name, The Old Ship Saloon, in 1999. Over the past 25+ years they have successfully restored it to its historical significance. In May of 2017, they sold the bar/restaurant, making sure its future was in good hands! Mary and Bill remain owners of the building (circa 1907) and are passionate about San Francisco and preserving the past. They have been members of SFHS since 1999.
Noah Griffin, Director
Noah Griffin is a native San Franciscan who, after graduation from Washington High School, earned his BA in history from Fisk University and his JD from Harvard Law, where he was the recipient of three fellowships: a Yale history fellowship, a CORO Foundation fellowship, and a Phelps-Stokes fellowship. Noah spent 45 years in government, politics, and media, serving on two presidential campaigns, as an award-winning Examiner columnist and a local ABC KGO Radio talk show host. He served as an administrative aide to Dianne Feinstein and press secretary to Mayor Frank Jordan. Nancy Pelosi appointed him to the National SemiQuincentennial Commission. Noah is currently a monthly columnist for the Marin Independent Journal. He serves on the Buck Family Fund and is founder of the Cole Porter Society. He is married to Meredith Griffin and is the father of five grown children.
James Haas, Director
A descendant of Joaquin Gruenhagen who arrived in San Francisco in 1850, James Haas has lived most of his life in the city. After graduating from Stanford University, he served as the Assistant Director of the National HeadStart program. Graduating from Columbia Law School in 1969, he practiced law for nearly 40 years. He was also engaged in civic projects including committees demolishing the Embarcadero Freeway, rewriting the City Charter, and developing the new South Beach neighborhood. His major effort for the past 30 years has been the restoration and completion of the Civic Center starting with the New Main Library in 1984. In recent years, he has written about San Francisco, including a biography of the long forgotten Mayor Edward Robeson Taylor, which appeared in The Argonaut in 2007 and a book-length history of the Civic Center, chapters of which appeared in The Argonaut in 2012, 2015, and 2016.
Richard Johns, Director
Richard Johns served as SFHS President from October 2006 through June 2010. He has been a member of the board of directors since 2002. Prior to the merger creating the SFHS, Johns was a Director and Vice-President of the Museum of the City of San Francisco. Johns occupies the Historian’s Seat on the San Francisco Historic Preservation Commission, and is a major collector of San Francisco music.
Robyn Lipsky, Director
Robyn Lipsky has been the Executive Director of the Ninth Judicial Circuit Historical Society since June 2016. Previously, she was the Executive Director of the Northern District of California’s Historical Society and the Northern District of California’s Practice Program for ten years. She also has had the honor of serving as a law clerk in the Northern District of California for close to 18 years.
Bruce Lubarsky, Director
Bruce Lubarsky is a fifth generation San Franciscan. He attended Lawton School, Presidio Junior High School, and Lincoln High School and graduated from UC Berkeley in 1959 and Hastings College of Law in 1962. He was admitted to the State Bar of California in 1963 and the United States Supreme Court in 1971. Lubarsky is a member of the World Jurist Association, the American Bar Association, the San Francisco Bar Association, and the Lawyers Club of San Francisco. He worked in the office of the San Francisco district attorney 1962–63 and served as a first lieutenant in the US Army Reserve 1963–68. Lubarsky has been a Judge Pro-tem in the San Mateo Superior Court since 1972 and Judge Pro-tem in the San Francisco Superior Court since 1982. He has been a member of civic and charitable organizations, including the Blum Foundation, the Thomas A. Dooley Foundation, and the Edward J. Whelan, SJ Society.
James Marchetti, Director
James Marchetti has more than 42 years of experience as a financial advisor, providing complete wealth management and estate planning strategies for individuals and families. He has been at First Republic Investment Management for the past two years, where he and his team relocated after more than 40 years at Merrill Lynch. Marchetti’s work focuses on managing personal finances for Bay Area families. For his work, he has earned numerous honors and awards. Among them, he has been on the Barron’s top advisors list. Marchetti graduated with honors from Stanford University with a degree in economics. He also holds a Certified Investment Management Analyst designation.
Talbot Moore, Director
Talbot Moore brings an educator’s perspective to the board. Beginning as a fifth and sixth grade history teacher and later evolving into the role of middle school dean, Moore has worked in education for the last eight years. Moore attended the University of California at Riverside and received two undergraduate degrees, one in history and the other in anthropology. These two complementary (and sometimes diametrically opposed) perspectives continue to shape the lens through which Moore sees the world. In 2010, Moore added a master’s degree in teaching from the University of San Francisco. A native San Franciscan, Moore was drawn to the field of education after a circuitous path various other fields, including construction, ranching, and the food service industry. Moore is a student of history who believes that a city’s future is grounded in the stories and experiences of its past. He is the chair of the new SFHS Education Initiative Committee. As a board member he looks to help develop meaningful ways for children to explore San Francisco’s rich and colorful heritage.
Darlene Plumtree Nolte, Director
Darlene Plumtree is a fourth-generation native San Franciscan who grew up in both San Francisco and southern Marin. She has more than 25 years of experience in the nonprofit industry, having worked in development and nonprofit management for a diverse group of organizations, including the University of California at San Francisco, Contemporary Jewish Museum, San Francisco Botanical Gardens, and the California Historical Society. She served on Mayor Brown’s Committee for the Opening Celebration of Ferry Plaza in 2003, and Mayor Newsom’s 1906 Earthquake Centennial Celebration Committee. She is a long-standing member of the Association of Fundraising Professionals, and served on the Marketing Committee for the International Fundraising Conference in San Francisco. Darlene presently serves as development director for the San Francisco Maritime National Park Association. She and her husband, Carl Nolte, columnist and reporter for the San Francisco Chronicle, reside in San Francisco’s Bernal Heights neighborhood.
Chris O’Sullivan, Director
Chris O’Sullivan teaches history at the University of San Francisco where he is a recent recipient of the Innovations in Teaching Award, as well as a Distinguished Teaching Award. He also lectures at USF’s Fromm Institute and was a recent Fulbright Visiting Professor at the University of Jordan in Amman. He is the author of six books, including the forthcoming Agent of Manifest Destiny: Thomas Oliver Larkin and the American Conquest of California. His book, Sumner Welles (Columbia University Press, 2008), won the American Historical Association’s Gutenberg Prize. He currently serves on the board of directors of the U.S. District Court for Northern California Historical Society, is a Regional Vice President for the Society of California Pioneers, and has previously served on the board of directors of the United Nations Association and the civil rights organization, Sojourn to the Past. He received his B.A. in history from UC Berkeley and his Ph.D. from the London School of Economics.
David Parry, Director
David Parry has been a full-time San Francisco real estate broker since 1986. He served as President of the San Francisco Association of Realtors in 2002. He is currently a Director of the California Association of Realtors representing San Francisco’s 5,000 members. Parry is a collector of San Francisco historical material and writes articles on the architects who shaped San Francisco. He was a board member of both the San Francisco Historical Society and the Museum of the City of San Francisco prior to their merger in 2002.
Edith L. Piness, Ph.D., Director
Edith Piness has served on the board since 2002. Prior to that she was a director of the San Francisco Historical Society. Piness is a retired historian with a specialty in British Administration in South and Southeast Asia. She served on the California Postsecondary Education Commission and chaired the California Student Aid Commission. She is a Life Trustee of Pitzer College and President Emerita of the California Historical Society. Piness also serves as Secretary of the California Missions Foundation Board and is a member of the Institute Nominating Committee of the Institute for Historical Study in the Bay Area.
Ken Sproul, Director
Ken Sproul went to Lick Wilmerding High School and later to Stanford to complete his formal education; life brought the rest. Sproul has specialized in the sale and leasing of office properties in San Francisco with a focus on older, unique properties such as China Basin, Harkness (Southern Pacific) Hospital, and Hills Bros. He served on the board of San Francisco Architectural Heritage for many years. He has a bucket list of travels that needs to be emptied.
Paul Su, Director
Paul Su has been an analyst in the capital markets since 2005. He is currently a Senior Analyst at the Federal Home Loan Bank of San Francisco specializing in mortgage-backed securities. Su graduated from the University of California at Riverside with a degree in economics, with a dual focus in corporate finance and investment and management information systems. He is a ceaseless and ardent student of the rich history of San Francisco, where he currently resides. As a board member, he will look to attract prospective members who also have a passion for history.
John Tregenza, Director
John Tregenza is the Chief Executive Officer and Trustee for the San Francisco Maritime National Park Association, a long-established nonprofit organization. Prior to this Tregenza had a long career as a financial professional involved in a comprehensive range of senior level roles with financial services organizations both in the United States and in Europe. Past job experience has included positions with wealth and investment management firms and private banking. Tregenza currently lives in Oakland with his wife, Carol Mason. When not working at San Francisco Maritime in Fort Mason Center, Tregenza spends much of his time in the Sierras. His personal interests include sailing, fly fishing, traveling, and amateur radio.
Diana Whitehead, Director
Diana Whitehead has served as Chief Information Officer of both Pacific Bell and SBC. Following her retirement, she consulted within the industry for several years. Diana earned a bachelor’s degree in psychology from Stanford University and attended several graduate programs at Stanford, MIT, and UCLA. She currently serves on the boards of several San Francisco nonprofits, including the Institute on Aging, the Community Music Center, and Salesian Boys’ and Girls’ Club.