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Movers & Shakers: Making Goals

By Christian Chensvold

Bay Area high achievers on our radar this month are having a moment in the spotlight.

Lissette Feliciano

Everyone gets into the zone a different way. Budding writer-director-producer Feliciano does it by finding just the right song and then putting it on repeat, as in thousands of times, until the project is complete. For Women Is Losers — Feliciano’s hit film at the SXSW festival, which led to a recent signing with the prestigious Verve Talent and Literary Agency — it was Janis Joplin’s song of the same name that sustained the emotional tone throughout the filmmaking process. Thirty-year-old Feliciano is a proud girl of the City’s Mission District (and an alum of ICA Cristo Rey) and the first in her family to go to college, in this case the Tisch School of the Arts at NYU. The production company she founded, Look at the Moon Pictures, “has a mission to create content for a generation that isn’t defined by one culture,” she tells us. “The multicultural approach, including mandating 50 percent BIPOC [staff ], is what I’m most proud of.” Feliciano’s all-time favorite movie, incidentally, is Life Is Beautiful, and from the way things are looking, it’s going to be. Find her on Instagram @li.ss.ette.

Paul Geduldig

There’s not a corner of the culture that hasn’t been struck by the effects of the pandemic, and that includes the Jewish Community Center of San Francisco, whose ark now has a new captain in the form of Geduldig. When he became the JCCSF’s new CEO in May, Geduldig inherited an institution hit by massive budget cuts and staff losses. But nearly every circumstance has a silver lining, and technological adaptations have helped foster a point of view and programming that now stretches from the greater Bay Area to the rest of the world. Originally from Atlanta, Geduldig settled in the Bay Area in 1995 and has been building and nurturing communities ever since through his roles at the Osher Marin JCC, Temple Sinai in Oakland and, most recently, the Peninsula JCC in Foster City. “I think this last year has taught us that we need to be flexible and nimble,” Geduldig told J. The Jewish News of Northern California, “and keep adapting how we serve the needs of the community.”

Izzy D’Aquila

Women’s soccer has become a veritable institution in the U.S., and now the Bay Area has reason to join in a sweaty and celebratory group hug, with D’Aquila in the center. In May, Santa Clara won the NCAA College Cup championship over top-seeded Florida State, prevailing in a penalty shootout following a 1-1 draw. Key to the victory was sophomore forward D’Aquila, who found the net for the winning goal. The feeling was indescribable, she managed to describe to the press afterward. Santa Clara is a soccer powerhouse that last won the national title in 2001 and this year faced more than just tough opponents (the team played only seven regular-season games due to coronavirus restrictions). In high school, D’Aquila played for JSerra High in Orange County, leading her school to three consecutive CIF Division I titles as the team’s high-scoring forward with about 135 goals, plus 59 assists. Of her team’s collegiate title, D’Aquila told the Orange County Register that it represented something that she and her teammates had dreamed of as little girls.

Christopher Gee

Sourdough bread has been a San Francisco tradition since the Gold Rush, and now, thanks
to a local golden boy radiant with the spirit of innovation, that tradition continues to rise.
Gee is the 14-year-old wunderkind whose special yeast gives his bread a distinctive flavor
that many say is perfection on the palate. Gee, who goes to Lowell High School and will be a
sophomore in the fall, is making bread — the kind you eat and the kind you spend — from his
Richmond District home and selling it for seven bucks a pop (you can find him on the platform
Nextdoor or email [email protected]). Like any discovery from a brilliant scientist, his
invention came slowly, as his first attempt yielded a loaf shaped like a Frisbee disc. Eventually
he stumbled on the perfect recipe based on four types of flour and an ultra-precise water ratio.
Gee has enjoyed becoming a local microcelebrity, and spending time in his kitchen laboratory
lessened the tedium of distance learning. “I’m just trying to make this dark time seem a little
bit brighter,” he said in a recent interview with Here Say Media.

Roeya Banuazizi

For those in show business, there’s nothing quite like hitting the road with a touring production, and it’s a lot more pleasant — not to mention efficient — with someone like Banuazizi along for the ride acting as the company’s mom. The manager for one of several touring productions of the Broadway hit Hamilton is more or less in charge of everything, which means she also knows everything. The Bay Area native and Carmel resident worked alongside Hamilton creator Lin-Manuel Miranda in his native Puerto Rico before coming to San Francisco, when the great run was interrupted by COVID. Committed to the community, she’s helped kids from Larkin Street Youth Services find careers in theater, visited San Quentin inmates and served meals at St. Anthony’s, not to mention tending to her own little community of her husband and two sons. As Hamilton comes roaring back, Banuazizi tells the Gazette, “I’m looking forward to the shared experience of live theater and the energy generated by the audience and their collective consciousness.”

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