Movers and ShakersPersonalities

Movers and Shakers On the Peninsula

Illustrations by Olivia Wise

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

Michael Moritz and Harriet Heyman

The Silicon Valley philanthropist couple stepped up to fund the U.K.’s prestigious Booker Prize for Fiction for the next five years via Crankstart, their charitable group supporting causes in the Bay Area and beyond. Both Moritz, a partner with Sequoia Capital, the author of a book about Apple Inc. and a former Time magazine journalist, and Heyman, a novelist, boast genuine literary cred. And starting June 1, they’re the right benefactors to sponsor the Booker Prize Foundation and take over the reins from the hedge fund Man Group. “These days I’m a global traveler but, just like the Booker, I was born in Britain and before coming to America was reared on English literature,” says Moritz. “Harriet and I feel fortunate to be able to support prizes that together celebrate the best fiction in the world.” He continues, “Neither of us can imagine a day where we don’t spend time reading a book.”

Avery Ruzicka

Manresa Bread’s resident dough whisperer is a semifinalist for this year’s James Beard Outstanding Baker award. She’s garnered a cult-like following for her levain, chocolate walnut babka and kouign amann at Manresa Bread’s three locations in Los Gatos, Los Altos and its all-day cafe in Campbell. Prior to spearhead-ing the bread-centric spin-offs, she fermented her talents as head baker atDavid Kinch’s Manresa Restaurant. (A James Beard semi-finalist in his own right, Kinch is nominated for Outstanding Chef this year — apparently, outstanding recognizes outstanding!) Ruzicka, we know your version of loafing is done with an oven nearby, but a recognition like this calls for some out-of-the-kitchen relaxation.

Dennis Woodside

The tech veteran brings his talents to Impossible Foods’ table as the plant-based meat maker’s first-ever president. The Redwood City company, best known for its uncanny beef-like Impossible Burger (try it at Palo Alto’s Vina Enoteca — trust us), is driven by science and technology, and aims for environmental sustainability with its products. And it seems that Woodside, a former exec at Dropbox and Google, is the perfect fit. “Dennis is also a 14-time Ironman Triathlon finisher, so I know he has the discipline and endurance to go the distance for Impossible Foods,” says the company’s CEO and founder Patrick O. Brown. Woodside, meanwhile, is “thrilled” to join the meatless revolution.

Alanna Smith

The Stanford Women’s Basketball phenom has been honored as the Pac 12 Women’s Basketball Scholar Athlete of the Year, the latest of innumerable recognitions for the senior forward. The award singles out student athletes who are successfully juggling sports and academics. Smith, a psychology major from Melbourne, Australia, maintained a 3.47 GPA while volunteering at the Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital and organizing her team’s first Human Trafficking Awareness Day game this year— all while simultaneously dribbling a basketball. Other kudos she’s collected? The John R. Wooden Award, Naismith Trophy and the Wade Trophy. She credits her achievements to supportive teammates, coaches and academic advisers. Keep doing your thing, Alanna!

Alex Selwyn and Ben Stein

The documentarian duo won third prize in C-SPAN’s Student Cam competition — one of three winning teams from Palo Alto High School. In response to this year’s theme (“What does it mean to be American?”) the teenagers made Young, Undocumented, and Alone, a six-minute film exploring the obstacles immigrant children face when seeking asylum in this country. “Since its creation, America has been a sanctuary for those fleeing oppression in their home country, but right now, children immigrating to the U.S.have very little protection under the law,” they report in the short. The other docs out of Palo Alto High that nabbed recognition: Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness, and Striving for Gender Equality. It sounds like these students have something to teach the world (and Donald Trump).

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