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Fizzy next-gen tribe of civic angels

Nikki Ioakimedes | Photo: Drew Altizer | June 17, 2011 | Story Best of the Bay

When Exploratorium board members Sako Fisher, Ravin Agrawal, and Akshata Murty saw a younger crowd pack the museum’s Science of Cocktails fundraiser in 2010, they hatched an idea: Create a fundraising board of A-lister millennials. (This can work in the right hands, they knew: back in 2003, then 33-year-old Trevor Traina and friends had invented the Junior Committee of the Fine Arts Museums, and its Midwinter Gala quickly became one of hottest tickets in town.) Then Bill Fisher, Sako’s husband and also a board member, ran into twentysomething civic gadfly Cameron Phleger at the small annual Christmas lunch of hedge fund titan Tom Steyer, and soon enough she was leading the charge. With Phleger as chair of the Exploratorium Lab and Katie Schwab Paige signed on this year to the committee for the signature event (Science of Cocktails), the Lab drew a sold-out crowd of 500, plus a 100-person waiting list. Bartenders from the likes of Comstock Saloon and Romolo 15 poured absinthe and whiskey concoctions for the likes of PayPal cofounder Ken Howery, Yelp CEO Jeremy Stoppelman, and Mythbusters co-host Grant Imahara. March Madness, a beer-meets-science party at Irish Times, was another raucous success, and a rock-climbing excursion in June balanced out the boozing. The Exploratorium Lab’s fundraising haul so far ($65,000) is milk money compared with the $1 million the Exploratorium’s Annual Awards dinner raises in one night. But as Trevor Traina’s experiment showed, the loyalty of the next generation of leaders can be a priceless commodity.


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