Explore Fascinating Topics with the Novato Speaker Series

Attend the Novato Speaker Series. You can expand your knowledge, engage with fascinating ideas, and have a fun and entertaining evening.

Who is the Novato Speaker Series for?

Whether you're a student, a professional, a retiree, or anyone in between, the series offers something of value. The presentations are designed to be accessible to a broad audience and to spark curiosity and discussion. The series is ideal for individuals who are passionate about lifelong learning and exploring new horizons.

Thursday Evenings

Thursday Evenings

The Monthly Novato Speaker Series is an ongoing program that brings together a diverse range of speakers from various fields and backgrounds to share their knowledge, experiences, and perspectives with the community.

Held on a monthly basis, the series features entertaining and informative talks that cover a wide range of topics, from current events and health and wellness, art and culture, and more. Each speaker is carefully selected to provide a unique and engaging presentation, and the series is designed to foster community engagement, learning, and enrichment.

Whether you're a lifelong learner, a curious individual, or simply looking for an enjoyable evening out, the Monthly Novato Speaker Series is an excellent opportunity to expand your horizons and connect with others in your community.

The Monthly Novato Speaker Series is an ongoing program that brings together a diverse range of speakers from various fields and backgrounds to share their knowledge, experiences, and perspectives with the community.

Held on a monthly basis, the series features entertaining and informative talks that cover a wide range of topics, from current events and health and wellness, art and culture, and more. Each speaker is carefully selected to provide a unique and engaging presentation, and the series is designed to foster community engagement, learning, and enrichment.

Whether you're a lifelong learner, a curious individual, or simply looking for an enjoyable evening out, the Monthly Novato Speaker Series is an excellent opportunity to expand your horizons and connect with others in your community.

2024 Speaker Series:

1800 Ignacio Blvd building 19, Novato, CA 94949

Doors open @ 6:30

Meet Our March 28th Speaker

Chris Gargano

A Visionary Leader and Storyteller

Chris Gargano’s career in the world of professional sports has gifted him a deep understanding of the dynamics that create successful teams and leadership structures. His work as a leader in the content departments of the Oakland Raiders, San Francisco Giants, and New York Jets created a desire to analyze and master how to lead with heart. This passion led to the founding of the Gargano Leadership Group, where Chris works to help teams and individuals reach their full potential.

As a storyteller, Chris wants to understand people, specifically, what makes people great and how they perform at such high levels. His Podcast, ‘Keep the Line Moving’ is a way to hear industry leaders share their insights. Here, Chris comes together with people who have excelled in their careers and lead in ways that profoundly impact their peers and teams. Hear how successful leaders practically, strategically, and empathetically lead people to achieve beyond their collective and individual abilities.

Find out more about Chris Gargano

Buddy Biancalana

Retired Major League Baseball (MLB) Shortstop

Buddy Biancalana, born in Greenbrae, California, in 1960, is a baseball legend whose career started at Redwood High School in Larkspur. He was a standout player, making it to the Mythical National Champion Team in 1977. The Kansas City Royals drafted him in 1978, and he played in the Major Leagues from 1982 to 1987, notably contributing to the Royals' 1985 World Series victory.

After his playing career, Biancalana ventured into coaching and authored a book, "The 7 Secrets of the World Class Athlete." In 2009, he was inducted into the Redwood High School Athletic Hall of Fame, solidifying his place in baseball history.

Find out more about Buddy Biancalana

Donna Spitzer


Opening Number

Following a successful engagement at The Hotel Alpha Playboy Club in Japan, Donna has appeared locally at the The Starlite Room of The Sir Francis Drake Hotel, as bandleader at The Terrace Bar of The Claremont Resort Hotel, at local nightspots such as Pearl’s, Cetrella, the no name bar, Joe LoCoco’s, Hotel Mac, The Mason Street Wine Bar, Harry’s, The Dock, The Union Hotel, Mulhern’s, 19 Broadway. She has entertained for numerous major corporate affairs, fundraisers, for wineries, country club functions, and galas in a career that has spanned two decades. A longtime favorite for local parties and galas, Donna is the bandleader and lead vocalist of the popular variety dance band,
The Full Tilt! Band.
Donna also headlines with the contemporary Swing,Blues and Classic Rock group, Sweet City Blues

See more about Donna Spitzer here.

Chris Waugh - March 28th

Vice President, Chief Innovation Officer

Designing a Life: Unveiling 7 Insights from Within Health and Wellness Innovation.

As Sutter Health’s first Chief Innovation Officer, Chris Waugh applies his extensive experience in human-centered design to guide the integrated network’s innovation strategy. Human-centered design is a creative approach that seeks personalized solutions to meet individual needs — understanding people and their behaviors, identifying trends and exploring solutions that improve a person’s healthcare experience — in order to make healthcare more usable and accessible for patients, doctors and nurses. Before joining Sutter Health, Waugh held entrepreneurial leadership roles at IDEO, a globally regarded Bay Area design and innovation firm, and was vice president of design at One Medical Group in San Francisco where he helped create a culture of innovation. Waugh graduated from Fort Lewis College in Colorado, with bachelor’s degrees in international business and French.

Make It An Entire Evening

We are partnering with local restaurants in Novato

New American Cuisine

Enjoy Finnegan's before or after the Novato Speaker Series

877 Grant Ave.

Novato, CA. 94945


Sam’s Place is a family oriented restaurant. Our mission is to build community. We promise our restaurant will always be a wonderful place to come for breakfast, lunch and dinner.

1545 S. Novato Blvd.

Novato, CA 94947

Insert the perfect text that explains and educates your visitor to take the desired action you want them to take. 

454 Ignacio Blvd.

Novato, CA 94949

Attending the Novato Speaker Series is an enjoyable and enriching experience that offers something for everyone.

Explore Fascinating Topics with the Novato Speaker Series

July, 27th

Paul A. Schwarzbart

Paul fled to Belgium with his parents when Austria was annexed in 1938. His father was arrested in Brussels on May 10, 1940. With surreptitious help, he "hid" in a catholic school in an Ardennes village near Luxembourg for 2 years. After reuniting with his mother, the two eventually came to the United States and settled in San Francisco.

Cantor David Margules’ beautiful tenor voice has enhanced and blessed members of Congregation Rodef Sholom since 1991. As the synagogue’s cantor and musical director, he choreographs services and leads the congregation in traditional prayers and new arrangements – enjoining them to sing out with him and the rabbis.

2024 Speaker Series Schedule

Events take place in Bill and Adele Jonas Center

1800 Ignacio Blvd Building 19, Novato, CA 94949

April 25th, 2024

On April 25, we will hear the stories of Laurie Reemsnyder and Lauren Vuong. Laurie will talk about the 180,000 refugees that came through Hamilton Air Force Base in the 1980”s and her career working with refugees. Lauren Vuong, as a seven-year-old left Vietnam with her family by boat. She tells the remarkable story about being rescued by a ship; her emotional arrival in the United States; and her search as an adult to find her rescuer, the captain of the Ship Virgo.

Lauren Vuong

Vuong's parents were wealthy landowners in southern Vietnam facing persecution under communist rule. Like hundreds of thousands of others from the mid-1970's to the early 1980's, Vuong’s family decided to leave the country.

Crowded onto a small boat with 57 other refugees, Vuong, seven-years-old, left in secret with her family in 1980.

“I was seven years old when my family was rescued from the South China Sea in June 1980. We were part of the "Boat People" crisis. We were ten days at sea, lost and depleted of food, water and fuel. Barring a miracle, death was an imminent certainty. That miracle appeared in the form of an LNG carrier flying the American flag, the
LNG Virgo, an image that forever cemented itself in my mind as being synonymous with life and freedom.”

Laurie Reemsynder

Journey Through Hamilton:

Southeast Asian Immigration Stories

Laurie Reemsnyder, an Art Education alumna from the Rhode Island School of Design, has made significant contributions as a photography teacher in Vallejo and Marin Catholic since 1999. Her early career involved seven years at the International House of Rhode Island, where she supported refugees, immigrants, and international students. Laurie's extensive work with the International Organization for Migration involved overseeing the relocation of over half a million refugees through SFO over two decades. Her international experiences span living in Japan and Denmark, along with travels across Asia, Central America, and Europe.

Passionate about empowering youth through service and art, Laurie also enjoys teaching line dance to active adults. Her profound experiences with refugees inspire her ongoing project to document the narratives of Southeast Asian refugees in Hamilton, Novato, focusing on their migration stories and challenges. A key figure in her project, Valda, a Cambodian refugee, exemplifies resilience and hope, sharing her life's journey from escape to a 30-year career at the airport before retiring during the pandemic. Laurie's work highlights the themes of resilience, hope, and the enduring power of the human spirit.

Survival, Gratitude, and the Human Spirit: A Night with Laurie Reemsnyder and Lauren Vuong

Join us for an enlightening evening at the Novato Speaker Series, featuring two extraordinary speakers: Laurie Reemsnyder and Lauren Vuong, whose life stories are testaments to the power of resilience, compassion, and the human spirit.

Laurie Reemsnyder:

From her early roots in Providence, RI, amidst the first waves of refugees, to her impactful humanitarian work in California, Laurie has turned historical narratives into deeply moving experiences. Her journey encapsulates the broad spectrum of human resilience, from the adaptation struggles of Vietnamese soldiers to the cultural transitions of Khmer and Hmong families. Leading her team, "The Fire Breathers," Laurie's work exemplifies the profound impact of unwavering support for those confronting the challenges of displacement, shining a spotlight on the enduring strength and sacrifices of refugees and their champions.

Lauren Vuong:

Delve into the gripping story of Lauren Vuong, a San Francisco attorney, whose escape from Vietnam as a child showcases the indomitable will to survive. Vuong's harrowing odyssey from a war-torn homeland aboard a fragile boat to a new life in San Jose is a pivotal narrative of the "Boat People" crisis. Her subsequent quest to thank her rescuers culminates in a touching reunion, emphasizing the significance of recognizing our unsung heroes and the profound impact of gratitude and acknowledgment.

Together, Laurie and Lauren bring to the stage a powerful confluence of stories that celebrate human endurance, the kindness of strangers, and the unbreakable spirit of those who overcome insurmountable odds. Their narratives not only provide insight into the struggles and triumphs of refugees but also highlight the essential goodness and heroism found in everyday acts of support and solidarity.

Don't miss this unique opportunity to be inspired by two remarkable journeys that bridge history, survival, and the transformative power of human connection at the Novato Speaker Series.

May 30, 2024

Tony Saunders - May 30th

Bay Area Music:

From Johnny Mathis to the Grateful Dead

Tony Saunders is a luminous figure in the world of music, celebrated for his exceptional talent as a two-time Emmy Award-winning bassist, composer, and producer. His musical versatility is unparalleled, seamlessly spanning genres from jazz, gospel, and R&B to pop, rock, and world music. The son of legendary Bay Area keyboardist Merl Saunders, Tony embarked on his musical journey early, securing his first Emmy at age 14 for his contribution to the PBS documentary Soul Is, and collaborating with his father and Jerry Garcia by age 17. His acclaim continued to grow with a second Emmy for his work on the TV show Digital Journey.

Educated at the prestigious Conservatory of Music in San Francisco, Saunders initially trained as a piano player before making a significant mark as a bassist, drawing inspiration from giants like James Jamerson and Stanley Clarke. His illustrious career boasts collaborations with music legends such as Eric Clapton, David Crosby, and Chaka Khan, as well as significant contributions as a producer, musical director, and composer, including for the stage musical Rock Justice.

Launching into a solo career, Saunders has solidified his reputation in contemporary jazz with acclaimed albums like Romancing the Bass and Uptown Jazz. The latter is a tribute to his enriching experiences in Harlem, NYC, encapsulating his memories of the vibrant sounds and rhythms that have significantly influenced his work. Despite his deep roots in the Bay Area, Saunders cherishes his time performing in Manhattan, notably opening for Grover Washington Jr. with Randy Crawford at Lincoln Center. Uptown Jazz celebrates the evolution of smooth jazz, deeply connected to the legacies of icons like George Duke and Cannonball Adderley.

Saunders' approach to the bass is passionate and evocative, reminiscent of B.B. King's iconic relationship with Lucille, prioritizing emotional depth over technical prowess. A regular performer at prestigious venues such as the Blue Note in Napa, Saunders' warm, inviting style and unique flair have endeared him to fans nationwide. His music not only pays homage to the greats but also promises an unforgettable experience that leaves audiences deeply moved and grateful. Through his work with the Rainforest Band and his support for causes like The Jerry Garcia Foundation and Rainforest Action Network, Saunders demonstrates a profound commitment to music and meaningful social impact.

May, 30th


June, 27th



info coming soon

Here's what you get:

By attending the Novato Speaker Series, you'll have access to professional development opportunities, cultural enrichment, and exposure to new ideas that can challenge your assumptions and help you grow as a person. Additionally, you'll have the chance to network and build relationships with other attendees, creating lasting connections that can benefit you both personally and professionally.

  • The presentations are often entertaining and engaging, making for an enjoyable evening out.

  • The series may include presentations on art, music, literature, and other cultural topics that enrich your understanding of the world.

  • The series provides an opportunity to learn about a wide range of topics from experts in their fields.

(ask us about an annual pass)


Join the series every 4th Thursday of the month

We are excited to announce that the schedule of speakers for the upcoming Novato Speaker Series will be released soon! Keep an eye on our website and social media channels for updates, as we have a lineup of fascinating and engaging speakers that you won't want to miss.

Stop sitting on the sidelines and get in the game. You're still early!

See What Others Say About Novato Speaker Series

Both Syl and I had a great time and kudos for organizing this event, so much fun and so cool.

- Dick and Sylvia Hageman

Congratulations. As a result of your leadership, Novato is growing culturally—and becoming more classes in the process.

- Barry Smail

Tony Lindsay was such a surreal experience. It was my first musical concert and it was amazing. Fantastic vocals and good music. Thank you for the opportunity to experience it.

- Larry Baten

Beautiful event

I’ve never heard anyone hold a note like that as she did on Ave Maria.,

You are fabulous.

All the best.

- Mark Milberg

©️ Copyright 2024 | Novato Speaker Series | Terms & Conditions

Designed By Solution-Suite

We help businesses to create scalable growth systems and automations with salesforce.

We have Digital Success DNA and a background just like yours.
Our Team moved from Industry to Software and built a Globally disruptive platform creating 10X shareholder value.
10X Digital brings you the secrets, to 10X your model, plans and technology. Ready to find out how we can help?