Speaker: Anita Gail Jones
“Overall, book publishing industries worldwide have much work to do to make room at all tables for diversified voices. In far too many corners, publishing mirrors the wider, domineering societies in which they function, stifling, suppressing and oppressing a multitude of robust, distinct voices by way of omission. In my writing, I’m seeking to reflect the times. Because the past haunts the present, we often find ourselves reckoning with the failures of history again and again. Nothing illustrates this fact better than the project I worked on this past summer elevating the voices of four Marin County heroes from the World War II shipbuilding era in Marin City/Sausalito.
In my upcoming novel, Peach Seed Monkey, I invite readers to face some difficult themes from history that are tragically repeated in the novel’s present day, 2012, and— it horrifies me to say—even now, a decade later. Each of us must help lead this charge to see more and more untold and undertold stories finally have a place in what should be a cultural dialogue, not a soliloquy. I refuse to look away.” – Anita Gail Jones
Anita Gail Jones is a visual artist, professional storyteller and writer. Anita was born and raised in Albany, Georgia, and lives in Northern California. She maintains a strong connection with this southwest corner of Georgia – in fact, it is the setting for her upcoming debut novel. Peach Seed Monkey was a finalist in the 2021/PEN Bellwether Prize for Socially Engaged Fiction and was recently acquired by Holt & Company for publication in spring 2023. Anita is an alumna of Hedgebrook, a women’s writers community on Whidbey Island off the coast of Seattle. Her short story, Hand-Me-Down Blues, won an award from The Pinch literary journal. She was a 2018-19 Affiliate Artist at The Headlands Center for the Arts in the San Francisco Bay Area.
In addition to her work as a storyteller, visual artist and writer, Anita and her husband, Rob Roehrick, founded the
Speaker: Leslee Budge
Optional: Bring your favorite textile piece or a piece of clothing that you made to show and discuss.
During breakout sessions, we will reflect on the following questions:
Facilitator: WMD President, Leslee J. Budge
I retired after a 4-decade career in healthcare, which included management with Kaiser-Permanente regional and national offices and consulting. I have an MBA. My undegraduate studies were in laboratory science and chemistry. Outside of my life in healthcare, I love fashion, clothing, and textiles. I remember making a dress for Barbie and fitting her with these small little darts. I was 12 years old. I think that is how my love of fashion and fabrics began. In the ‘80s I joined the wearable art scene in the Bay Area, creating jackets by silk screening on wool and showing them in museums and galleries across the US. I even won a national award judged by Jack Lenor Larsen. During this period, I learned how to make patterns for clothing and how to market what I made. Alas, I returned to my former work in healthcare, but continued to create and learn about fashion and textiles. I have been fortunate to travel world-wide to see how textiles are created by many different cultures. I have learned a tremendous amount about textiles from my fellow Textile Arts Council members.
Before messenger RNA was a multibillion-dollar idea, it was a scientific backwater. And for the Hungarian-born scientist behind a key mRNA discovery, it was a career dead-end.
Katalin Karikó spent the 1990s collecting rejections. Her work, attempting to harness the power of mRNA to fight disease, was too far-fetched for government grants, corporate funding, and even support from her own colleagues.
It all made sense on paper. In the natural world, the body relies on millions of tiny proteins to keep itself alive and healthy, and it uses mRNA to tell cells which proteins to make. If you could design your own mRNA, you could, in theory, hijack that process and create any protein you might desire — antibodies to vaccinate against infection, enzymes to reverse a rare disease, or growth agents to mend damaged heart tissue.
In 1990, researchers at the University of Wisconsin managed to make it work in mice. Karikó wanted to go further.
The problem, she knew, was that synthetic RNA was notoriously vulnerable to the body’s natural defenses, meaning it would likely be destroyed before reaching its target cells.
It was a real obstacle, but Karikó was convinced that it was one she could work around. Few shared her confidence.
“Every night I was working: grant, grant, grant,” Karikó remembered, referring to her efforts to obtain funding. “And it came back always no, no, no.”
By 1995, after six years on the faculty at the University of Pennsylvania, Karikó got demoted. She had been on the path to full professorship, but with no money coming in to support her work on mRNA, her bosses saw no point in pressing on.
She was back to the lower rungs of the scientific academy.
“Usually, at that point, people just say goodbye and leave because it’s so horrible,” Karikó said.
“I thought of going somewhere else, or doing something else,” Karikó said. “I also thought maybe I’m not good enough, not smart enough. I tried to imagine: Everything is here, and I just have to do better experiments.”
She was good enough and smart enough. The rest his history.
Speaker: Cynthia Koehler
Cynthia Koehler is an environmental attorney and water policy expert with 30 years of experience working on federal and state water and natural resource issues. She has served for the last 16 years as an elected Board Director for Marin Water, a public water provider serving a population of 200,000 people and responsible for managing 21,000 acres of watershed lands. She is an appointed member of the US EPA’s Environmental Financial Advisory Board (EFAB) Council and served previously on US EPA’s Local Government Advisory Committee and Governor Brown’s Urban Advisory Group. Cynthia is also the executive director of WaterNow Alliance, a nonprofit network of local water leaders advancing sustainable, equitable, and climate-resilient water management strategies nationwide, with a particular focus on innovative infrastructure finance and policy. She worked previously as the Legislative Director for California water issues for the Environmental Defense Fund and is the recipient of The Bay Institute’s Hero of the Bay Award, as well as other commendations for her environmental leadership.
Are books a way to connect with others for you or more an inward-facing opportunity?
Facilitator: WMD member Chantel Walker - Assistant Director of County Library Services at the Marin County Free Library (MCFL). MCFL operates a network of 10 branches throughout the County, an archive, a Bookmobile, and a mobile preschool literacy vehicle. Its mission is to provide welcoming, equitable, and inclusive opportunities for all to connect, learn and explore. Prior to her role at the MCFL, Chantel led the County of Marin’s Organizational Development and Training Division within the Department of Human Resources. She and her team deliver educational training, tools, and strategies to build organizational capability and employee excellence at the County of Marin. During her more than 20 years of experience in philanthropy and the broader nonprofit sector, Chantel has worked as a technical assistance provider, grantmaker, senior executive, and direct service provider throughout the country on children, family, and neighborhood development issues. She has published and presented on issues of early childhood education and community development, community organizing and the role of philanthropy, human services reform, early childhood education, finance, and facilities development. She is fluent in Spanish, and an experienced convener and facilitator. Chantel continues to be an active and dedicated volunteer.
Book recommendations from members: