Fellows and guests met on April 3, 2012, at the Academy of Art University in San Francisco, hosted by AAU President Elisa Stephens, FRSA. HM Consul General for San Francisco Priya Guha was our special guest.
You might ask what can be accomplished in just two short hours? Amazingly more than I can adequately capture here – it really was a case of “you had to be there!”.
Priya, the first woman to serve as Consul General in San Francisco, spoke about her goal to encourage innovation and promote closer political, economic, trade and people-to-people ties in the seven states for which she is responsible. Elisa, the third generation to lead the Academy of Art University founded by her grandfather in 1929, gave an overview of its rich history and growing international presence. I gave a roundup of current RSA initiatives in the US, including the five successful catalyst projects, and was delighted that Gillian Squirrell, one of the catalyst winners, was there to talk about her Working Dogs Working Lives project.
Conversations bubbled up on so many interesting topics –Suranga Chandratillake, FRSA, offered insights into the his experience in setting up the world’s largest video seach engine; Marion MacDonald, FRSA, talked about her mission to preserve cultural heritage; and Ruthe Stein, San Francisco Chronicle movie critic reminded us of some of our favorite British films. Several members of the British American Business Council discussed potential areas of collaboration and shared philosophy. Everyone present “opted in” so that they could be connected up by email to build on these connections and plan the next meeting.
The Academy of Art University Atelier was a stunning and fitting venue, where art and design are showcased and every detail celebrates the accomplishments of students and alumni. The atelier is a curated gallery space and retail opportunity where students’ products can be launched. Even the fixtures and display stands were commissioned from an industrial design alum and all profits benefit the University’s Student Scholarship Fund.
Thanks to Janet Sutter and Kathleen Kimura for outstanding coordination and sponsorship.