First Person Conversations
Eavesdrop on conversations with groundbreakers who are redefining life in Silicon Valley every day.
Going backwards in time...
Founder & CEO of Savitude
Camilla Olson defies the norms. She relishes taking on big challenges and has a proven record of overcoming them as a successful serial entrepreneur. Olson talks with Lisa Van Dusen about what motivates her: solving big, consequential problems, creating companies, building teams and championing women —- ideally all in combination.
Co-founder and Chief Facilitator of the Stanford Red Barn Leadership Program
Jacqueline Hartman talks with Lisa Van Dusen about how horses can illuminate the truth and ultimately, the best in people.
Senior Fellow at Google Research
Try Googling "Jeff Dean jokes" and you will find many results — they seem to have a life of their own. While both flattered and a little embarrassed by this April Fools joke that keeps on giving, Dean is actually quite serious about his work.
Journalism/English teacher, Education Innovator and Author
Esther Wojcicki has been attending high school for more than 31 years and can't imagine not going to school every day. Being with her students is what fuels her, she said. And something must be happening there because one of her biggest challenges is to get the students to leave.
Founder of DreamCatchers and Ph.D. candidate in behavioral science at University of Cambridge and Stanford University
Caution: being near Sarah Mummah can cause healthy habits to form because she believes that if you can change people's behaviors, you can change the world. A self-described minimalist, she runs, writes and eats vegetables.
Founder of Racing Hearts and Speech Pathologist
Armed with a matter-of-fact cheerfulness and her fellow Palo Altans' willingness to help, Stephanie Martinson, a part-time speech pathologist at the VA, mom and founder of Racing Hearts, is on track to save a lot of lives. She talks with Lisa Van Dusen about her journey.
Dean of Religious Life at Stanford University
The Very Reverend Dr. Jane Shaw talks with Lisa Van Dusen about having arrived on the Stanford campus this fall as the Dean for Religious Life and Professor of Religious Studies after a four-year stint as Dean of Grace Cathedral in San Francisco. She just might surprise you.
President of the Northern Sierra Partnership
Blake, a MacArthur Fellow and Palo Alto resident, describes her work as "wrangling" her collaborators to protect the Northern Sierras from Mount Lassen to Lake Tahoe.
Terradex CEO and Environmental Engineer
Bob Wenzlau, pioneer recycler and compost champion is now focused on what's under our workplaces, schools and homes that is known to be harmful to our health. Through his Palo Alto-based environmental information company, Terradex, Wenzlau developed a web application called What's Down as a kind of "Yelp for the environment."
Founder of Club Academia
In this "First Person" interview, Lisa Van Dusen talks with Shilpa Yarlagadda, a 2014 graduate of Gunn High School in Palo Alto and founder of Club Academia, a video tutorial website that promotes "education of the students, by the students and for the students.
New York Times Writer
In this "First Person" interview, John Markoff, Pulitzer Prize-winning New York Times senior writer and author, talks with Lisa Van Dusen about growing up in Palo Alto, covering Silicon Valley for more than 30 years and his current interest in artificial intelligence and robotics -- the "next big thing.
CoFounder of the Carbon Zero Institute
Elton Sherwin, former cleantech venture capitalist turned accidental climate change entrepreneur talks with Lisa Van Dusen about his efforts to hunt down the most practical ways to make the planet "net zero" in carbon emissions by mid-century
East Palo Alto Farmer
While he specializes in peppers -- especially the Padrone -- he also raises chickens and grows fraises des bois, watercress and some rhubarb, all sought after by select Bay Area restaurants and farmers market goers
Social of Entrepreneur and Founder of Benetech
Jim Fruchterman, rocket scientist-turned-social entrepreneur and Founder/CEO of Benetech, a Palo Alto-based nonprofit, develops technology to "truly help change the world.
Senior Fellow at CISAC and Stanford Professor of Political Science
Scott Sagan, nuclear disarmament expert, Senior Fellow at CISAC and Stanford professor of political science, talks with Lisa Van Dusen in the fall of 2012 about his life-long career in academic research, teaching and policy devoted to disarmament and nuclear non-proliferation
The Stanford Tree
Stanford grad Jonathan Strange talks to Lisa Van Dusen about what it takes to be the Stanford Tree, mascot of the Leland Stanford Junior University Marching Band, in anticipation of his trip to the New Year's Day Rose Bowl between Stanford and Wisconsin and the 50th reunion of the Stanford Band
Palo Alto-based Photographer and Creator of the 'Palo Alto Forest Project'
Angela Buenning Filo, Palo Alto-based photographer and creator of the "Palo Alto Forest Project," speaks with Lisa Van Dusen about her community-activated photo installation, part of the Palo Alto Art Center's grand reopening exhibition -- "Community Creates" -- opening on Saturday, Oct. 6, 2012.
U.S. Women's Olympic Badminton Coach
Ben Lee, the U.S. Olympic Badminton coach and Palo Alto Police Department Patrol Officer, talks with Lisa Van Dusen before heading to London for the 2012 Olympic Games.
Stanford Quarterback and Architecture Student
Andrew Luck, the NFL's top draft pick from 2012 and Stanford's graduating star quarterback, talks about starting his career as a professional football player with the Indianapolis Colts and reflects on his time at Stanford in this exclusive one-on-one interview
Founder of Philz Coffee
Phil Jaber talks with Lisa Van Dusen—over a cup of coffee—at his downtown Palo Alto coffee shop at Forest Avenue and Alma Street.
CEO of Planned Parenthood Mar Monte
Linda Williams, president and CEO of Planned Parenthood Mar Monte (PPMM), speaks with Lisa Van Dusen about the challenges of leading the nation's largest Planned Parenthood affiliate. Over Williams' 22-year tenure, PPMM has grown from a one-county, five-health-center operation to a primary health-care provider serving 42 counties in two states with 36 full-service, full-time and 12 part-time centers. Ninety-seven percent of PPMM's services are preventive.
Founder of The Art of Yoga Project
Mary Lynn Fitton lives near Heritage Park in downtown Palo Alto where she spends much of her time helping teen girls in the criminal justice system develop self-control and self-esteem through yoga and the creative arts in The Art of Yoga Project.
NBA Point Guard and Palo Alto High School Graduate
NBA point guard Jeremy Lin, a graduate of Palo Alto High School (Class of 2006) and Harvard University (Class of 2010), reflects on his Palo Alto basketball roots, his experiences as a trailblazing Asian and Ivy League player in the NBA, and his dreams for the future.
Stanford Health Psychologist and Lecturer
McGonigal shares her knowledge, spreads joy and builds community wherever she goes, demonstrating the applications of psychological science to personal health and happiness, as well as organizational success and social change.
Founder of The School Fund Nonprofit
Matt Severson, a 2007 Palo Alto High School graduate, started The School Fund, a nonprofit that connects donors with students in developing countries who need help with their annual school fees of about $150 per year.
Founder of Khan Academy
Sal Khan is revolutionizing education, one 10 minute YouTube video at a time. He has produced more than 2,700 segments covering everything from first grade addition to venture capital.
Director of Stanford Emergency Medicine International
Dr. S.V. Mahadevan was born in Oakland and raised in southern California. He attended UCLA Medical School before heading north to Stanford in 1999. When he isn't managing Stanford's Level 1 Trauma Center/Emergency Department, Dr. Maha, as he is known, is often traveling the world advising developing countries about how they can launch emergency medical services—or improve upon their existing programs.
Author of "The Wednesday Sisters"
Meg Waite Clayton has published three novels, including "The Wednesday Sisters," which is set in Eleanor Pardee Park.
Palo Alto Acupuncturist
Ed Weiss, M.D., has been a pioneering practitioner of acupuncture in Palo Alto for more than 35 years. After studying psychology and chemistry at Yale, he enrolled at Stanford Medical School. Following his internal-medicine residency, he set off for London for a vacation and ended up creating a self-styled fellowship in acupuncture.
Superintendent of Palo Alto Animal Services
For more than 14 years, Sandy Stadler has been superintendent of Palo Alto Animal Services, which is located on East Bayshore Road and serves Palo Alto, Mountain View, Los Altos and Los Altos Hills.
Head of Castilleja School
Nanci Kauffman became the head of Castilleja School in the fall of 2010. A resident of Palo Alto since 1997, Kauffman began her career as an educator in 1979 at Marymount School, a girls' school in New York City. She graduated from high school at age 16 before graduating from Vassar College and Teachers College at Columbia University.
Co-founder and President of Credo Mobile
Michael Kieschnick, Palo Alto resident and co-founder and president of CREDO Mobile, a San Francisco-based wireless company that donates a portion of its revenues to progressive groups world-wide, talks to Palo Alto Online about his work and life.
Betsy Franco, Palo Alto resident and mother of Oscar-nominated actor James Franco, talks to Palo Alto Online about her upcoming play "Metamorphosis: Junior Year" at the Palo Alto Children's Theatre, (March 3-5 and 10-12), her multimedia creative life, and what it has been like to raise and collaborate with three artistic sons.