Recent SIR programs


Past Programs


June 17, 2015
Speaker: Chester Santos
Subj.: Unlock the Extraordinary Power of Your Mind!

Chester Santos, "The International Man of Memory", is one of the world's foremost experts on memory training. He has competed at the highest levels of competitive memory and in 2008 was crowned the USA National Memory Champion.

Chester is capable of such amazing feats as memorizing and perfectly recalling a 100+ digit sequence of numbers after looking at it for only 5 minutes, and memorizing and perfectly recalling an entire deck of playing cards in less than 2 minutes and 30 seconds. In addition, he can learn hundreds of random words, names and faces, and poetry in a matter of minutes.

He's helped thousands of people around the world to realize the benefits of an improved memory and sharper mind, and has appeared in various television, radio, and print media all over the world. He has spoken for executive organizations as well as for many Fortune 500 companies and prestigious universities including the Royal University for Women in Bahrain, the Haas Graduate School of Business in Berkeley, Stanford University, and Harvard University.

Chester is working on a new book about memory improvement and brain fitness. His iPhone application, “Steel Trap”, was featured by Apple and became an instant worldwide bestseller.

Chester's presentations are a wonderfully unique blend of interactivity, entertainment, inspiration, and education. He delights audiences while helping them to develop real world skills that they can apply to achieve more success in their career and personal life. His presentations are "unforgettable" experiences that everyone will always "remember" and talk about for years to come.


May 20, 2015
Speaker: The Star Geezers
Subj.: Music Like You May Have Never Heard Before

The Star Geezers is a musical quartet, playing their own instruments and singing in varied harmony. The group evolved from an “imitation” Soggy Bottom Boys formed originally to promote a church activity at the Los Altos United Methodist Church. (The original  Soggy Bottom Boys was a musical group featured in the movie, O Brother, Where Art Thou? The name is a homage to the Foggy Mountain Boys, a famous bluegrass band.) The Star Geezers have become famous in their own right and continue to play for many church activities and other functions. Most of the songs that The Star Geezers sing will be familiar. The others will just be fun! We will even get to sing along, if we want.  The members:

Jim Reynolds: Co-Leader, guitar and singer. Jim is a Silicon Valley Specialist/Consultant in Integrated Circuit fabrication. He became interested in Blue Grass music while in college and taught himself to play the guitar and sing this type of music. He has played with many California blue grass bands.

Ballard French: bass (named “Bessy”). Ballard worked at various companies in Silicon Valley before retiring from Xerox Corp. in 1994. He built “Bessy” in 1959 to play in a noontime group while employed at Ampex Corp. It replaced a single rope string “tub”, and cost $16.35 (including strings) to construct from scrap lumber.

Stan Kullborn: singer. Stan worked as an optical engineer for Perkin Elmer before he started his own financial consulting company. He has sung in several country and gospel bands as well as church choirs.

Mike Beamer: Co-Leader, guitar, mandolin and singer. Mike formerly owned a music store, The Music Shoppe, in Menlo Park CA. He is an outstanding jazz guitarist and also plays the mandolin.

Don't miss The Star Geezers!


April 15, 2015
Speaker: Will Travis
Subj.: Global Climate Change Effect on Bay Area

Will Travis, who is commonly called “Trav,” is a consultant, writer, teacher and speaker on sea level rise adaptation planning. Following retirement in 2012, he served as senior adviser to the Bay Area Joint Policy Committee. It's an alliance of agencies supporting the effort to draw up a long-term regional plan that takes into account both environmental and economic needs. "Our prosperity in the Bay Area is tied to having a coherent strategy for climate change," Trav said. "I moved out here because I loved this region, and that has never changed."

Trav received Bachelor of Architecture and Master of Regional Planning degrees, both from Penn State University, and between 1961 and 1970 he worked in the fields of architecture, local planning, private consulting, advertising and public relations. From 1970 until 1972 he was design analyst at the San Francisco Bay Conservation and Development Commission (BCDC), the nation’s first state coastal management agency. In 1972 Trav joined a consulting firm created by Stewart Udall, which drafted the first master plan for the East Bay Regional Park District. From 1973 to 1985 he served in a number of positions at the California Coastal Commission.

In 1985 Trav was appointed deputy director of BCDC. From 1990 until 2001, he was BCDC’s representative to and chairman of a trustee committee that managed a multi-million dollar oil spill settlement fund. In that capacity, he spearheaded the public acquisition of 10,000 acres of privately-owned salt ponds along the northern shoreline of San Francisco Bay; the ponds are now being converted to natural habitat as part of the largest wetland restoration project in the western United States.

In 1995 he was appointed executive director of BCDC. Under his leadership in 2011, BCDC became the nation’s first state coastal management agency to adopt development regulations for addressing sea level rise.

Trav and his wife, Jody Loeffler, are the authors of Katherine’s Gift, a memoir on international adoption. They live in Berkeley, California.


March 18
Speaker: Walt and Liz Wilson
Subj.: Adventure into North Korea

North Korea – also known as the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) – is one of the last untouched places in the world. It’s a country stuck in time, outside of the system — “a small planet,” in the words of one author. The DPRK is the most secretive and antagonistic country in the world. Since the country opened up to outside visitors, only a handful of people have experienced the rare gift of visiting this reclusive nation.

Walt and Liz Wilson traveled to North Korea in July 2014 as members of the first group of American tourists on a tour organized by an American company.  

The Wilsons will share their experiences and a DVD of their adventure into the heart of North Korea with us.  Anyone who has attended one of their travel presentations would agree that it's an event not to be missed. They capture the essence and culture of a country and its people with breathtaking visuals accompanied by insightful and fascinating stories.

The couple has explored about 90 countries during their 48 years of marriage, including living in Germany and Japan during the 80s. Before retirement, Walt had a leadership role in Solectron, helping it become a global electronic manufacturing company for original equipment manufacturers.  Liz, most recently, was a drama teacher at Castillero Middle School in San Jose. Liz’s father was a member of SIR in Mountain View in the 1960s.


February 18
Speakers: Ray Rothrock and Christopher DiGiorgio
Subj.: The Venture Capital Industry – Trends

While Chair of the National Venture Capital Association in 2013, Ray Rothrock led the association in developing a "report card" on the venture capital (VC) industry. Chris DiGiorgio, senior partner and recently retired from a 30-year career at Accenture, facilitated the effort. This project involved face-to-face interviews with interested parties of the VC industry including five dinner meetings held all over the United States with about 80 people from the business. Further, research information was collected about the industry. The report card was provided to the board of the NVCA as Ray stepped down as chair. Chris continued to research the project and developed a much more granular view of the industry backed by first-hand data collection and analysis. This picture, coupled with the interviews conducted from the industry itself, made for a presentation road show which Ray and Chris have given either together or separately for the last year to about 25 groups.

Ray is a partner emeritus of Venrock. His formal education is in nuclear engineering with a BSNE (summa cum laude) from Texas A&M Univeristy and SM from the M.I.T. and ultimately an MBA (with distinction) from Harvard Business School.

Chris is a Distinguished Alumni of California State University and holds a BS in Computer Science and a BS in Business Administration.


January 16
Speaker: Nicole Sandkulla, Chief Executive Officer and General Manager of BAWSCA
Subj.: The Bay Area’s Interests in the San Francisco
Regional Water System: Past, Present and Future

The San Francisco Chronicle reported in January, 2014, that a debate is emerging between the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission (SFPUC) and the Bay Area Water Supply and Conservation Agency (BAWSCA) over the potential disaster if the water system’s Mountain Tunnel collapses. That tunnel supplies 2.6 million Bay Area homes and businesses with water. SFPUC has known for 25 years that significant work is needed on the 19-mile-long tunnel just outside Yosemite National Park. But ultimately, the 89-year-old connector was left out of a rebuild project, which focused on upgrading Bay Area water facilities that could fail in an earthquake.

This was just one of the issues facing our speaker, Nicole Sandkulla, when she was selected to be BAWSCA’s CEO/GM in July, 2013. Ms. Sandkulla, a civil engineering graduate of California Polytechnic State University-San Luis Obispo, joined BAWSCA in 1999 after nine years with East Bay Mud. During her fourteen years as Water Resources Manager for BAWSCA, she was described as “a results-driven executive.” She has a huge job representing the interests of 24 cities and water districts, plus two private utilities, that purchase water wholesale from the San Francisco regional water system. These entities provide water to 1.7 million people, businesses and community organizations in Alameda, Santa Clara and San Mateo counties.