Movers and Shakers

Movers and Shakers in January

Illustrations by Olivia Wise

High achievers on our radar this month, from Bay Area heavyweights to the next generation of power players.

Vallejo-born musician, H.E.R., is nominated for five Grammys at this month’s awards show.

H.E.R. 

Things continue to unfold for H.E.R. The Vallejo-born rhythm and blues songstress, whose musical moniker stands for Having Everything Revealed, has been nominated for five Grammys at this year’s awards show on January 26. The recognitions include song of the year, record of the year and the biggie, album of the year for her celebrated 2019 project I Used to Know Her. Born Gabriella Wilson, the enigmatic 22-year-old musician has played an instrumental role in R&B’s popular culture resurgence. Which reminds us: She’s also a skilled multi-instrumentalist and songwriter whose soulful, smoky voice is reminiscent of a 1990s Lauryn Hill. H.E.R. is arguably the most promising talent to emerge from Vallejo since rap legend E-40. What’s in the water there?

Monetta White has been named executive director of the Museum of the African Diaspora.

Monetta White

White and the Museum of the African Diaspora have changed their relationship status to “official.” The museum announced in December that the stylish civic leader will be its next executive director, after serving as interim director since the summer. She is perhaps best known for her work as the managing partner at 1300 on Fillmore, a soul food haunt she opened with her chef-husband David Lawrence in 2007. But her true passion, she says, “is to sustain African American culture and the arts, motivating people to understand the critical need for it in our environment and for the future of our society.” It’s this combination — financial smarts and a deep understanding of the museum’s role in San Francisco’s culture — that made her a shoo-in for the job.

Alphabet’s new CEO: Sundar Pichai, who’s been described as passionate and humble.

Sundar Pichai

Pichai just got the least casual job promotion in history. In December, Google co-founders Sergey Brin and Larry Page announced they were stepping back from their executive roles at Alphabet, the parent company of the little search engine that changed the world 21 years ago, and that Pichai would take over as CEO. For the last 15 years, the co-founders’ successor worked his way up the company from product developer to vice president to CEO of Google and, now, CEO of everything. The famously eccentric power duo (Brin and Page, natch) lauded him as someone who “brings humility and a deep passion for technology to our users, partners and our employees every day.” Tech’s fiercest critic Kara Swisher wrote in the New York Times that out of all the executives at Google, “the nice guy — Sundar Pichai — finished first.”

When the San Francisco Opera’s appointed Eun Sun Kim as its new music director, she became the first Asian woman to hold such a position in America.

Eun Sun Kim

The San Francisco Opera has appointed South Korean–born conductor Eun Sun Kim as its next music director, making her the first Asian woman to hold the position at such an institution in America. Baton drop. At just 39 years old, Kim is only the fourth music director in the SF Opera’s century-long history. She begins her new gig in August 2021. She’s conducted throughout Europe and made her San Francisco debut in June (Dvořák’s Rusalka) to much fanfare. “She’s a conductor who really opens her arms and invites people around her in to make the very best music,” said Matthew Shilvock, the opera’s general director.

Climate One honored Dr. Robert Bullard with the Stephen Schneider Award for Outstanding Climate Science Communication.

Dr. Robert Bullard

In December, environmental forum Climate One honored Bullard for a lifetime of fighting environmental injustice and racism with its ultra-prestigious Stephen Schneider Award for Outstanding Climate Science Communication. It’s the latest of countless recognitions for theTexas Southern University distinguished professor, who has written 18 books on the way race and class not only segregate people, but unfairly impact marginalized communities in terms of pollution and other environmental hazards. A textbook example in San Francisco is the Hunters Point Shipyard saga. “The quest for climate justice is an intergenerational thing,” he says.“The time for growing diverse leaders and diverse messengers is now.”

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