The Fall Semester gets off to a great start!
Forum speaker Sasha Abramsky gives a
riveting talk to an overflow crowd.
Photo by Allan Keown


Friday, 3 to 4 p.m., Campus Locations

Following the afternoon seminars each Friday, an "open forum" is held from 3-4 p.m.

The Forum features invited speakers of note, usually from outside Renaissance, who share their views on varied topics with members, followed by lively question-and-answer sessions. The topics include political, social, cultural and entertainment issues. Many of the speakers are suggested by Renaissance members; contact the Forum Committee if you have ideas.

The locations can vary, depending on CSUS availability, so check below. The speakers and locations can change during the semester if a larger or better room becomes available, so check here right before each Forum.

Sasha Abramsky
Sept. 7: Sasha Abramsky, Freelance Journalist
Del Norte 1004
Writing on Poverty, Inequality, Racism, Sexism and Other Dark Themes in the Age of Trump. Sasha Abramsky is a freelance journalist, book author and lecturer in the University Writing Program at UC Davis. His writings appear in the Nation, New Yorker online, the American Prospect, Atlantic Monthly, Capital & Main, the Guardian, the New Statesman, and elsewhere in the US and UK. He is a regular columnist for The Sacramento Bee, writing on the perils of the Trump moment. Abramsky is the author of eight books, including The American Way of Poverty, The House of Twenty Thousand Books, and, most recently, Jumping At Shadows. His books are available at the Hornet Bookstore.
Jeff von Kaenel
Sept. 14: Jeff von Kaenel, CEO/Publisher/Owner Sacramento News and Review
Del Norte 1004
Forty years in the trenches and the Future of Journalism. What is the future of journalism in Sacramento and in the U.S.? How do we prepare for a world without daily newspapers? Jeff von Kaenel is the president and chief executive officer of the News and Review. He has worked with alternative newspapers for over 44 years. In 1973, Jeff worked at one of the first alternative papers in the country, The Santa Barbara News and Review. In 1980, Jeff took over the Chico News and Review as publisher and then, nine years later, in 1989, he came to Sacramento and started the Sacramento News and Review. In 1995, he took over a paper in Reno that became the Reno News and Review. The three papers now have a combined circulation of over 125,000. Jeff will share with the Renaissance Society the evolving vision of the future of journalism and how we stay in touch with local, state, national and world news.
Bob Erlinbusch
Sept. 21: Bob Erlenbusch, Executive Director, Sacramento Regional Coalition to End Homelessness
Ballroom II, University Union Note: Location Change!
Ending Homelessness in the City and County of Sacramento. Has homelessness always been with us and thus an intractable social crisis?  Can we end and prevent homelessness in our community?  Modern, systemic, sustained homelessness began with the election of Ronald Reagan in 1980.  He immediately cut HUD's affordable housing budget by 75 percent along with deep cuts to other safety net programs, resulting in a dramatic change in the face of homelessness in communities around the nation.  Before 1980, people experiencing homelessness were disproportionately older, white men.  For the past 38 years, the face of homelessness has changed to be people of color, children, youth and families.  After nearly 40 years, has this crisis become an intractable social crisis?  Is it possible to end and prevent homelessness?  Is it really that complex a social issue?   
Rivkah Sass
Sept. 28: Rivkah Sass, Director, Sacramento Public Library
Ballroom II, University Union Note: Location Change!
What is a Library? With the ability to conjure information (real and imaginary) out of thin air, buy books (and anything else we might desire) with the touch of a button, what is a public library? More importantly, what value do libraries add in the 21st Century and what is their role in a civil society? A native of Manteca, Rivkah Sass ran away from home, got a Master's degree in Library and Information Science from the University of Washington and spent more than 30 years working in public and state library agencies in Washington, Oregon, Maryland and Nebraska as well as three years in the private sector. She returned home to California to serve as the Library Director/CEO of Sacramento Public Library Authority, California's fourth largest public library system, thus proving that you can go home again. Sacramento Public Library's 28 locations and bookmobile provide services to a diverse population of 1.4 million urban, suburban and rural residents from the City of Sacramento to Isleton on the Sacramento River Delta. Rivkah is passionate about the role libraries play in lifelong learning, civic engagement and as the last vestige of democracy, free and open to all. Sacramento's libraries offer story times to help young children get ready for school, maker spaces to help people learn new technologies, the opportunity to hear first-class authors and programs and the chance to borrow everything from books to pressure washers. Rivkah was named Librarian of the Year by the Library Journal in 2006, 2018 Woman Who Means Business from the Sacramento Business Journal and is the University of Washington iSchool 2018 Distinguished Alumna. View her PowerPoint presentation here.
Steven Maviglio Kevin Eckery
Oct. 5: Steven Maviglio and Kevin Eckery, Political Consultants
Ballroom II, University Union
Ballot Measure Madness: Demystifying the Initiatives on Your November Ballot. More than a dozen initiatives are expected be on California's November ballot. Learn the details on what they're about, who's backing them, and why voters are being faced with so many initiatives this year. Back by popular demand: Republican political consultant Kevin Eckery and political analyst for KCRA 3 and Democratic political consultant Steven Maviglio. Eckery is president of Eckery Associates a strategic communications and public affairs firm offering services in government and media relations, crisis communication, litigation support and executive training. His assignments have ranged from advising governments and political movements in Asia, Eastern Europe and the Middle East, to lead strategist and spokesperson on statewide ballot measures, to counseling firms such as Facebook and Walmart in their dealings with state governments. Before founding Eckery Associates, he served as Press Secretary and Communications Director for Gov. Pete Wilson. Maviglio is principle of Forza Communications a strategic communications firm specializing in political and legislative campaigns. He is directing communications for two ballot measures this year. At the age of 24 Steven was elected to the New Hampshire House of Representatives where he served three terms. He was recruited to Washington, where he directed communications for the US Trade and Development Agency and worked with Janet Reno in the Department of Justice during the Clinton Administration. He also worked on Capitol Hill as Executive Director/Communications Director for the House Democratic Caucus under U.S.Rep Vic Fazio. He was recruited to California by Gov. Gray Davis and served as his Press Secretary and Communications Director. Before starting his own firm, Steven was Deputy Chief of Staff for two California speakers, Fabian Nunez and Karen Bass and communications consultant for Assembly Speaker John Perez. He was a principal in Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson’s election campaigns. View the PowerPoint presentation here.
Scott Anderson
Oct. 12: Scott Thomas Anderson, Investigative Reporter
Del Norte 1004
The Untold Story of the American Drug War. Scott Thomas Anderson will discuss the forgotten and invisible causalities of the nation's addiction nightmare, as well as how it has affected policing, politics, health care and the landscape of incarceration. He'll share stories from his nearly two years of working embedded with law enforcement officers, along with his reflections from over a decade of covering courtrooms in Northern California. Finally, Anderson will discuss who currently has the most to gain from keeping the Drug War going, from international cartels to Wall Street.
Blake Young
Oct. 19: Blake Young, President and CEO, Sacramento Food Bank and Family Services
Redwood Room, University Union Note: Location Change!
Making a Countywide Change to the Broken Food System. There are over 50 million people in the United States today who are hungry or food insecure. Over 240,000 of these hungry or food insecure people, almost one of every six people you meet, live in Sacramento County. Sacramento Food Bank and Family Services (SFBFS) partners with over 220 local agencies to distribute food to individuals and families in underserved areas throughout Sacramento County. Blake Young manages an annual budget of $10 million and a staff of 85 with over 8,000 volunteers. Blake has served with SFBFS for over 20 years and has been the CEO since 2005. He will share his organization's vision of how to make a countywide change to the broken food system.
Stan Forbes
Oct. 26: Stan Forbes, Chair, California Citizens Redistricting Commission
Del Norte 1004
Accomplishments of the California Citizens Redistricting Commission and its Impact on National Politics. In 2008 and 2010, California voters made history by passing two initiatives to reform redistricting of the state Senate, Assembly, Board of Equalization and U.S.  House of Representatives district lines. After holding 34 public meetings around the state, the 14-member Commission created districts of relatively equal population that would provide fair representation of all Californians. The new lines were first used in the 2012 election and will remain in effect for 10 years. As Chair of the Commission, Stan Forbes recently received the 2017 Public Engagement in Governance Award from Harvard University's Ash Center for Democratic Governance and Innovation. Along with the award came $100,000 to teach residents of other states to ensure that political districts are drawn in a way that's fair to voters and doesn't favor incumbents of either party.
Melissa Levering-Clark
Forum cancelled! Nov. 2: Melissa A. Levering-Clark, Volunteer Coordinator, Sutter Care at Home Hospice Sacramento
Del Norte 1004
Compassionate Care at the End of Life. In 1973 there was one hospice in the United States; by 2010 there were over 5,000 hospices caring for more than a million and a half patients annually, and the numbers continue to grow. Melissa Levering, Volunteer Program Coordinator for Sutter Care at Home Hospice, will share her personal and professional hospice knowledge and experience of the dedicated hospice volunteers and staff who provide invaluable support to patients and their family members. She will help Renaissance Society members understand the full range of hospice programs and services available for compassionate care at the end of life.
Gary Simon
Nov. 9: Gary Simon, Executive Director, Sacramento Juneteenth
Del Norte 1004
Juneteenth: Celebrating Freedom. Juneteenth celebrates one of the most momentous occasions in American history: the signing of the Emancipation Proclamation and the two-year struggle it took to grant freedom to black Americans. Discover its historical components, relevance today and the role other local multicultural festivals and fiestas played in its creation. Gary Simon has been  executive director of Sacramento Juneteenth, Inc., a nonprofit education and health/ wellness organization, since its creation in 2001. He has also created Sacramento's World Dance and Music Festival, and the ethnic village of Old Sacramento's Gold Rush days.  Former director of Multicultural Affairs for Visit Sacramento, Simon is also a substitute teacher in  the Sacramento and Elk Grove school districts and has served as reelection campaign manager for former City Councilman Sam Pannell and current member Larry Carr. 
Timothy Cutler
Nov. 16: Dr. Timothy Cutler, Health Sciences Clinical Professor of Pharmacy, UC San Francisco
Ballroom I, University Union Note: Location Change!
California Pharmacies and How They Can Help You. Dr. Cutler joined the UCSF faculty in 2004. He has also worked as a critical care pharmacist, ambulatory care pharmacist and a long-term-care consultant. He is a graduate of the faculty scholar's program in the Northern California Geriatric Education Center, serves on the UC Davis Betty Irene Moore School of Nursing Graduate Group and is enrolled in the ASHP Pharmacy Leadership Academy. He has lectured at state and national conferences to audiences of physicians, pharmacists and nurses, and was a visiting Professor at the Kobe Gakuin Pharmaceutical University in 2011 and 2015. He received the Albert Prescott Leadership Award from the Pharmacy Leadership and Education Institute in 2011 and held the Divine Family Endowed.
Nov. 23:
Thanksgiving Holiday; No Forum
Dana Nuccitelli
Nov. 30: Dana Nuccitelli, Climate Scientist, Author and Columnist for The Guardian
Del Norte 1004
Fire and Water: How Climate Change is Impacting Extreme Weather in California. While most Americans accept the reality of human-caused global warming, they view it as a problem distant in time and space, one that will impact people in other countries and in the future. As a result, most Americans don't grasp that climate change is an urgent problem, and wrongly view it as a low priority. This presentation will discuss how climate change is impacting Californians today by intensifying extreme weather events like droughts, wildfires and floods. It will also address the politicization of climate science and what we can do to solve the problem. Dana Nuccitelli is an environmental scientist and climate blogger for The Guardian. He's been writing about climate change since 2011, for which the National Center for Science Education named him as one of its 2016 Friends of the Planet. He is the author of the book Climatology versus Pseudoscience.