La Oferta

October 2, 2022

The Commonwealth Club of California Honors Five Distinguished Citizens

By Lina Broydo, Award Winning Writer/Columnist/Blogger, lives in Los Altos Hills

Photos courtesy of the Commonwealth Club

The 2018 Distinguished Citizen Awards were proudly presented to Dr. Mary G.F. Bitterman, Dr. Dr. John Hennessy, the Honorable Leon Panetta, Sylvia M. Panetta and Ms. Nancy E. Pfund. The Distinguished Citizen Award is presented annually to those who have devoted their lives to making the world a better place while providing strong and ethical leadership in the fields of education, government, technology and philanthropy. The festive celebration took place on April 19 at the Commonwealth Club’s first new permanent home at 110 Embarcadero in San Francisco offering stunning views of the Bay. It is simply referred to as “Views from 110”

Dr. Gloria Duffy, President and CEO of the Commonwealth Club of California, noted: “Nothing is more valuable in society today than strong and ethical leadership and we are honored to showcase some of the most outstanding and effective leaders the Bay Area has shared with the world.” The Commonwealth Club of California is the nation’s oldest and largest public forum.

The 2018 Honorees and the Recipients of the 2018 Distinguished Citizen Awards Are:

Mary Bitterman, Bank of Hawaii

Dr. Mary G.F. Bitterman, President and the Trustee of the Bernard Osher Foundation and former President and CEO of KQED Public Broadcasting, Chairman of PBS Foundation. She is Director of Bank of Hawaii Corporation and former Chair of the Commonwealth Club’s Board of Governors. Dr. Bitterman serves on the advisory councils of the Stanford Institute for Economic Policy Research.

Dr. John Hennessy, 10th President of Stanford University (2000-2016), Computer Scientist, Academician, Founder of MIPS computer Systems and Board Chair of Alphabet. Dr. Hennessy is the founder of the Knight-Hennessy Scholars Program, the largest fully endowed graduate-level scholarship program in the world. Among many honors he was awarded the 2012 Medal of Honor of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, its highest award.

The Honorable Leon Panetta, Co-Founder of the Panetta Institute for Public Policy, former Secretary of Defense, Director of the CIA, White House Chief of Staff and the U.S. Representative. Leon Panetta is renowned for crossing political boundaries in his many roles in government.

Sylvia M. Panetta, Co-Chair and CEO of The Panetta Institute for Public Policy whose mission is to encourage young people to pursue lives of public service. In 1995 Ms. Panetta was appointed Deputy Director for Staff and Finance at the President’s Crime Prevention Council in Washington D.C. She also serves as an advisor to the Chancellor of CA State University since 1997.

Nancy E. Pfund, Founder and Managing Partner, DBL Partners, a venture capital firm whose goal is to combine top-tier financial returns with meaningful social, economic and environmental returns in the regions and sectors in which it invests. She sponsors or sits on the board of directors of several companies, including: The Muse, Advanced Microgrid Solutions, Primus Power, and prior to their public offerings, Tesla Motors and Pandora. Ms. Pfund writes and speaks frequently on the field of impact investing.

The prestigious event, emceed by Dan Ashley, anchor at ABC7  News, benefits the Commonwealth Club’s nonprofit with funds supporting the Club’s 450 dynamic and compelling programs each year. For the past century, the Club has fostered free speech and civic dialogue on wide-ranging topics, addressing key issues in society, culture, politics, the economy and more.

“The Commonwealth Club is to free speech what the Golden Gate is to bridges and fireworks are to the Fourth of July.”

– Secretary of State Madeleine K. Albright

More than one million people listen to The Commonwealth Club’s weekly radio broadcasts on more than 230 public and commercial stations across the country. The Club’s podcasts are downloaded  more than  2.5 million times each year. The Club’s videos also appear on the California Channel, C-SPAN, Fora.TV, and YouTube, where they have been viewed millions of times. Visit for additional information about the 2018 Honorees.