Charles A. Fracchia, Founder & President Emeritus
Tom Owens, President
Thomas R. Owens earned a B.A. and a J.D. from the University of Pennsylvania. He moved to California in 1970, where he practiced real estate law for ten years. Starting in 1980 he has served as partner, COO, and principal of Pacific Union Co. In 1998 Tom formed Sagamore Equities, which became New Urban Properties in 2004. Since then, Tom has operated New Urban Properties, which acquires and manages office buildings throughout the West. Mr. Owens is now New Urban’s CEO and sole investor. Tom has served on numerous boards and commissions. He is currently a trustee of the California Historical Society. He is also a member of various professional organizations, including Lambda Alpha Honorary Real Estate Society and the California and Federal Bars. Tom resides in San Francisco with his wife, D’Arcy, and their two children.
Jack Lapidos, Treasurer
Jack Lapidos was born in Chicago and received his B.S. in mechanical engineering, Illinois Institute of Technology in 1965 and MBA in tax and finance at the University of Chicago in 1967. He moved to San Francisco in 1969 and developed a great fondness for the history of the Bay Area. To pursue this interest, Jack has supported numerous nonprofits devoted to the preservation of San Francisco Bay Area history. He is currently on the boards or treasurer of: San Francisco Maritime Museum Association, Potomac Association, and Presidio Historical Association, Nature Bridge, Touch Inc. (his own private foundation). He is the former director of Museum of American Heritage and Jeremiah O’Brien Liberty Ship. In real life, in 1974 he founded an accounting practice that caters to small businesses and well-to-do individuals.
Kevin Pursglove, Secretary
Kevin Pursglove is the former senior director of corporate communications at eBay. He has also served as director of communications for former San Jose mayor Susan Hammer. For many years he was a well-known voice on the radio: from 1979 through 1992, he was a reporter, program host, and public affairs director at KQED radio. Pursglove holds a B.A. in political science from San Francisco State University. He has served on the SFHS board of directors since 2012 and has extensive volunteer experience with the World Affairs Council of Northern California, Jewish Sports Hall of Fame, San Francisco State University, Commonwealth Club of California, and more.
Charles A. Fracchia, Founder and President Emeritus
Charles Fracchia, a renowned San Francisco historian founded the San Francisco Historical Society in 1988. He was the Society’s president prior to the merger with the Museum of the City of San Francisco, and served as the president of the San Francisco Historical Society through February 2005. Fracchia continues to serve on the Board of Directors, chairs the Council of Advisors, and manages the Society’s publications. He is a native San Franciscan who attended local schools and received his B.A. in history from the University of San Francisco. He did graduate work at the University of San Francisco Law School; University of California, Berkeley; San Francisco State University; and the Graduate Theological Union in Berkeley.
Fracchia has taught at City College of San Francisco and the University of San Francisco, lectures extensively throughout the Bay Area, and has been an investment banker for over 30 years. He has written several books including Fire and Gold: The San Francisco Story, City by the Bay: A History of San Francisco 1945 to the Present, and When the Water Came Up to Montgomery Street: San Francisco During the Gold Rush. He has been a trustee of the California Historical Society, and is a member of the Leadership San Francisco Advisory Board of the Chamber of Commerce.
Joe Barkett, Director
Joe Barkett earned a B.A. from the University of California at Berkeley and a J.D. from University of San Francisco. He has combined 45 years of law practice with a variety of top management positions in government and business, including serving as a California State Deputy Attorney General, CEO of the California Exposition and State Fair, CFO for two closely held California corporations, CEO of the Solano County Fair and CEO of the Cow Palace. In conjunction with these various activities Joe has served as a director and officer of numerous business and trade associations and non-profit agencies.
John Briscoe, Director
San Francisco poet, author, lawyer, and UC scholar John Briscoe is a founding partner of the law firm Briscoe Ivester & Bazel LLP in San Francisco. He has written extensively on history, international environmental law, and law of the sea. He has tried and argued cases in The Hague, the U.S. Supreme Court, and scores of other courts. He is also an author: The Tadich Grill: The Story of San Francisco’s Oldest Restaurant, with Recipes (2002); The Lost Poems of Cang Jie (2016); and Crush: The Triumph of California Wine (2018). He is a trustee of the San Francisco Maritime National Park Association; a board member of the Historical Society of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California and a Distinguished Fellow at the University of California, Berkeley.
Tom Gille, Director
Tom Gille is a fourth-generation San Franciscan who, after graduating from Polytechnic High School, earned his B.S. and M.A. in Political Science from San Francisco State University. His four-plus decades of experience in the commercial real estate industry include his current role as founder (1996) and principal of REAL Systems, providing consulting services on operational issues. Tom’s love of San Francisco began as a child listening to stories from his grandmother about surviving the 1906 earthquake and fire. His wife Nancy served nine years on the SF Heritage Board and was Chair for three years. They live in San Francisco and have two sons, who both work in the city.
Noah Griffin, Director
Noah Griffin is a native San Franciscan who, after graduation from Washington High School, earned his BA in history from Fisk University and his JD from Harvard Law, where he was the recipient of three fellowships: a Yale history fellowship, a CORO Foundation fellowship, and a Phelps-Stokes fellowship. Noah spent 45 years in government, politics, and media, serving on two presidential campaigns, as an award-winning Examiner columnist and a local ABC KGO Radio talk show host. He served as an administrative aide to Dianne Feinstein and press secretary to Mayor Frank Jordan. Nancy Pelosi appointed him to the National SemiQuincentennial Commission. Noah is currently a monthly columnist for the Marin Independent Journal. He serves on the Buck Family Fund and is founder of the Cole Porter Society. He is married to Meredith Griffin and is the father of five grown children.
Richard Johns, Director
Richard Johns served as SFHS President from October 2006 through June 2010. He has been a member of the board of directors since 2002. Prior to the merger creating the SFHS, Johns was a Director and Vice-President of the Museum of the City of San Francisco. Johns occupies the Historian’s Seat on the San Francisco Historic Preservation Commission, and is a major collector of San Francisco music.
Brent Johnson, Director
Brent Johnson brings over 20 years of experience in the financial markets to his position as CEO of Santiago Capital. He enjoyed more than nine years as a Managing Director at BakerAvenue, a $1.7 billion asset management and wealth management firm. Before joining BakerAvenue, Mr. Johnson spent nine years at Credit Suisse in their private client group. He got his start as part of the training program at Donaldson, Lufkin, & Jenrette (DLJ) in New York prior to moving to San Francisco. Mr. Johnson regularly gives interviews and speaks at conferences regarding precious metals, currency markets, and macroeconomic trends. He lives in san Francisco with his wife Mary and son Moses. He previously served on the Board of directors of the San Francisco Museum and historical Society.
Rick Lenat is President of Lenat & Partners Communications, Inc., an advertising agency that specializes in travel, tourism, and entertainment. Rick has been active in a number of nonprofit organizations serving as board member and president. He is currently a member of the board of trustees for the Theodore Roosevelt Association and president of SF Hillel. Rick holds a BA from the University of California and an MSJ from Northwestern University. Rick and his wife Ally live in San Mateo. They have a married daughter residing in Bend, Oregon and a son living in San Francisco.
Christopher A. Patz, Director
Chris Patz has more than 20 years of experience working as an investor, an officer, and an attorney with a variety of companies. He also participates actively in many social and philanthropic organizations in San Francisco and the Bay Area. For instance, he sits of the Executive Committee of the YMCA Association of San Francisco and serves or has served on the boards of several other local clubs and associations. A native of Norwood, Massachusetts, Chris grew up in Los Angeles and has lived in San Francisco for more than 20 years. He holds an AB in Political Science and History from the University of California, Berkeley, and a JD from the University of California, Los Angeles.
David Parry, Director
David Parry has been a full-time San Francisco real estate broker since 1986. He served as President of the San Francisco Association of Realtors in 2002. He is currently a Director of the California Association of Realtors representing San Francisco’s 5,000 members. Parry is a collector of San Francisco historical material and writes articles on the architects who shaped San Francisco. He was a board member of both the San Francisco Historical Society and the Museum of the City of San Francisco prior to their merger in 2002.
Edith L. Piness, Ph.D., Director
Edith Piness has served on the board since 2000. Piness is a retired historian with a specialty in British Administration in South and Southeast Asia. She served on the California Postsecondary Education Commission and chaired the California Student Aid Commission. She is a Life Trustee of Pitzer College and President Emerita of the California Historical Society. Piness also serves as Secretary of the California Missions Foundation Board and is a member of the Institute Nominating Committee of the Institute for Historical Study in the Bay Area.
Ken Sproul, Director
Ken Sproul went to Lick Wilmerding High School and later to Stanford to complete his formal education; life brought the rest. Sproul has specialized in the sale and leasing of office properties in San Francisco with a focus on older, unique properties such as China Basin, Harkness (Southern Pacific) Hospital, and Hills Bros. He served on the board of San Francisco Architectural Heritage for many years. He has a bucket list of travels that needs to be emptied.
Diana Whitehead, Director
Diana Whitehead has served as Chief Information Officer of both Pacific Bell and SBC. Following her retirement, she consulted within the industry for several years. Diana earned a bachelor’s degree in psychology from Stanford University and attended several graduate programs at Stanford, MIT, and UCLA. She currently serves on the boards of several San Francisco nonprofits, including the Institute on Aging, the Community Music Center, and Salesian Boys’ and Girls’ Club.