Seven high achievers on our radar this month, from Bay Area heavyweights to the next generation shaking things up.
Father Paul Fitzgerald
The University of San Francisco president is expanding his school’s Bay Area footprint: With the support of new donors, USF under Fitzgerald’s leadership recently purchased foodie favorite Star Route Farms in Bolinas. The farm will continue operations and plans are developing for academic and research initiatives, along with community partnerships. More than 11,000 students attend the Jesuit Catholic institution, and many will benefit from a recent $15 million gift from alumnus Gordon Getty to fund an “Honors College.” Says Father Fitzgerald, “USF has always been committed to developing new and innovative ways to help students ask big questions in an intellectually rigorous environment, to seek justice, to live lives of meaning and purpose, and”—voicing a campus tagline—“to ‘change the world from here.’”
Six years ago, the CEO founded Stitch Fix, the popular online subscription and personal shopping service that delivers boxes of clothing to customers based on their personal styles. Lake, who grew up in San Francisco and Minnesota, sent out her first package while attending Harvard Business School, and now her growing company—headquartered in SF and employing more than 5,000 people, including stylists—uses algorithms to help thousands of clients look and feel their best. Before launching what the Los Angeles Times called “one of the few major success stories” in its e-commerce category, Lake worked at Polyvore and The Parthenon Group, where she was able to develop her experience at the intersection of fashion and technology.
Call it a touchdown plus the two-point conversion, because the new assistant coach for the San Francisco 49ers is scoring all kinds of points for women and the LGBTQ community. The 31-year-old Sowers is not only the second woman in pro football history to be promoted to her position, she’s also the first coach to come out as gay in a male team sport. Previously, she was a scouting intern for the Atlanta Falcons and interned with the Niners as part of the Bill Walsh NFL Diversity Coaching program. “There are so many people who identify as LGBT in the NFL, as in any business, that do not feel comfortable being public about their sexual orientation,” Sowers told Outsports.com. “The more we can create an environment that welcomes all types of people…the more we can help ease the pain and burden that many carry every day.”
This month, the Rock Hall of Famer and his Mill Valley restaurant celebrate a milestone: Hagar turns the big 7-0, and so does El Paseo, which opened its doors to the public in 1947. Hagar, who soared to fame in the ’80s when he replaced David Lee Roth as Van Halen’s lead singer, financed the meticulous two-year restoration of the property, which reopened in 2011. “There’s something I love about the business of hospitality,” he says. “It’s no different than walking out on stage in front of 10,000 people, and serving them with music, and having them walk away happy. I plan on doing this for the rest of my life at El Paseo. It’s my hometown arena.” Happy birthday, Sammy!
The former senior adviser to President Obama has a lot on his plate these days. By day, he serves as vice president for communications and policy at online crowdfunding giant GoFundMe in San Francisco. By night (or whenever they record the Wednesday show), he teams up with fellow Obama administration alums Jon Favreau, Jon Lovett and Tommy Vietor as a co-host of the hottest political podcast on the interwebs. His political savvy and affable, guy-next-door charm play well on Pod Save America, a breakout, post-election watercooler hit, where he cracks black-humored jokes and talks serious policy. The show, part of the Crooked Media family of podcasts, brands itself as the “political podcast for people not yet ready to give up or go insane.”
Stryker Scales & Sam Josi
After the sudden closure of their popular Marina restaurant, Mamacita, last spring, the restaurant owners were on the prowl for their next exciting project. In came Mamanoko, a Japanese izakaya and sushi bar that’s quietly becoming a new neighborhood hotspot. Scales and Josi, along with partner Nate Valentine, own other SF favorites such as The Tipsy Pig, Blue Barn and Padrecito. Mamanoko, meanwhile, boasts an intimate, 90-seat setting and cuisine by chef Taka Iwamoto. On the menu: Kobe beef sliders, karaage sticks with buffalo sauce and sushi rolls like the Lomi Lomi, with king salmon and crispy salmon skin. And don’t forget the Japanese beers, whiskeys, sake and gin cocktails like the “Mr. Roboto.”