Bay Area high achievers on our radar this month are having a moment in the spotlight.
There’s no more noble ambition than saving the world, and Fernandez has fearlessly taken on the challenge. At the tender age of 19, the City resident launched the Sustainable Ocean Alliance, which now operates in 50 countries, providing innovative solutions to fighting climate change and other threats to our precious blue marble of a home. Recently, she was highlighted as one of 100 noteworthy planet rescuers featured in the new book Stone Soup for a Sustainable World. Growing up in Ecuador — which boasts the world’s greatest biodiversity density — Fernandez discovered she had an inherent cross-species bond with animals, and a deep feeling for nature in all its guises, from misty forests to golden coasts to glowing volcanoes. “I found that being around pristine nature in such beautiful places is really necessary for happiness,” she says. “I always had an innate feeling that these natural wonders had to be preserved.”
Sean San José
Local award-winning theater veteran San José is back in the spotlight — this time as the newly minted artistic director of Magic Theatre. The veteran performer, director and producer has dazzled crowds in the Bay Area for over 25 years, creating and producing nearly 100 works by and for people of color while lecturing and directing in Berkeley on the side. As for Magic Theatre, it’s proof of how past dreams create realities. “Magic was the first theater where I saw a play,” he says, “changing my life.” That’s no linguistic sleight of hand, as San José has literally gone from audience member to artistic director. Some things were meant to be.
Every vocation requires tenacity, and for Ray, it’s the ability to look at art all day long. Those with weaker frontal lobes would succumb to overload, but Ray simply sees more clearly. “The art world can be tricky to navigate and digest, as most struggle to visualize what something could look like in their own home, away from impersonal white walls,” notes the art adviser, dealer and curator. Life is like a box of chocolates, it’s been said, so why not art, too? As founder of the innovative online exhibition series Eye of the Huntress, Ray creates a monthly “chocolate box” of succulent artworks delivered to waiting inboxes. “We are early disruptors in the way we are presenting art,” she says. “Ninety-one percent of buyers are comfortable buying online now, so we are staying ahead of the curve.” Ray was raised in London with her showbiz family, and went on to work under famed photographer Herb Ritts and forged her own career shooting such luminaries as Magic Johnson and Jeff Koons. She became a private dealer at the pinnacle of the late-’90s British art scene and finds the Bay Area, her home since 2006, ideal for the merging of art and technology: “San Francisco is a great place to embrace this new way of buying art, being such a tech-driven epicenter.”
Kids can inspire parents just as much as parents inspire kids. That was certainly the case with Lynn, a serial entrepreneur and founder of theCoderSchool, and his oldest child, who three years ago came out as nonbinary on National Coming Out Day. “Now a high school senior, they’ve already decided to major in computer science, making me an even prouder dad,” he says. With theCoderSchool, which operates 55 locations and guides more than 5,000 future computing gurus, he says, “I hope to inspire more underrepresented LGBTQ folks to pursue an interest in computer science, just like my teenager.” Lynn has also operated a School of Rock music education facility for kids, and is now spreading the sweet side of life by launching a frozen custard and mini-doughnut shop in Palo Alto called Cudos later this year. Kudos all around!
Caldwell can boast of leading the team with the fastest time rowing across the pond — not just any pond, mind you, but the pond, as in the Atlantic Ocean (an achievement that landed him a 2017 world record). As the founder of Latitude 35, the Danville resident not only develops leadership training programs for top global corporations, but also personally races in harrowing adventures across deserts and oceans straight out of Hollywood. He recently finished a four-man, 30-day row from San Francisco to Hawaii, shaving a full nine days off the previous record. “You’re essentially slowly dying when you’re out here,” he told GQ magazine from the middle of the Pacific. “It’s a brutal, brutal crossing and you’re trying to stave off the descent of your body as long as possible.” The rowing is the easy part, he added; the challenge is the self-maintenance of eating, sleeping, hygiene and caring for injury. There was no barber on board, so when the crew reached land, they were as bearded as Thor Heyerdahl and the crew of the Kon-Tiki.