Category Archives: fundraising

Renee Richardson on Metallica, a Music Career, and What’s Fun about SV Rocks!

Silicon Valley Rocks!:  First question. What is your day job?

Renee Richardson: I am the associate director of the All Within My Hands Foundation, which is Metallica’s philanthropic foundation. We give to community colleges where we support workforce education in the trades, and we feed the hungry along tour stops that Metallica makes.

Silicon Valley Rocks!: Tell me a little bit about the All Within My Hands Foundation. How did it get started, and what is the mission?

Renee Richardson: For many years, Metallica has donated to charities on various stops during their tours. They mainly focused on food banks and were doing that on their own, under the radar. In 2017, they created a formal foundation to work with other organizations, so they up their game on a more professional level. They started by partnering with Feeding America. Working with the organization means that more food could get in the hands of people who are food insecure, and since they are all over the US we could continue to support the communities in places that the band tours. 

Another area of focus is something that James (Hetfield) has been very passionate about; trade education. He saw his friend’s kids getting pushed into four-year colleges, bachelor degrees, or Ivy League schools, while perhaps they didn’t want to do that, maybe they wanted to work in a trade instead? His sense is that there are not enough opportunities or encouragement for young people to enter trade fields. The band decided to partner with the American Association of Community Colleges (AACC) to help find schools with Career & Technical Education (CTE) programs and granted them the money and freedom to build the programs suited to each school. AWMH has given $1 million in total—$100,000 to 10 schools. Check out this link to learn more.

Silicon Valley Rocks!: What has been the impact of this philanthropic focus? 

Renee Richardson: What has been really exciting about that is that the schools have been able to use our funding in ways they never expected. We have a school in Wichita where they partnered with a local manufacturer to develop a women’s welding program. Turns out that women are very adept at welding. So, we were able to support WSU-Tech to develop this Women in Manufacturing program. Year one is under our belt and has been very successful! 

Silicon Valley Rocks!: How did you get into the music industry?

Renee Richardson: I’ve always had a passion for music. I tried to play every instrument under the sun. But as a young person, I was not focused or driven enough to practice. When I moved out to San Francisco from NY, my intention was to go into advertising. But I found radio, or radio found me.

I found myself on the air at Live 105, playing music and being mentored by people like Lisa Carr, Roland West, Big Rick, and Steve Masters- really all of the folks from Live 105 taught me what I know. Then I moved on to KFOG. They had a need for somebody new on the morning show. And I joined Dave Morey’s team (learning even more!!!) and it was there that I helped start the KFOG Local Scene CD. 

San Francisco has had such a powerful music scene, especially in the 60s, 70s, and then when I moved here in the 90s, I mean, the music scene was just extraordinary. Radio gave me opportunities to promote musicians, whether they were budding rock stars or just hobbyists. I’ve always tried to use my platform to support that.

I still to this day have just a deep passion for music, whether playing music or listening to music. Being part of a band, or being a fan of a band, connects people no matter what their philosophies are.

Silicon Valley Rocks!: You left KFOG, and then where did you land? 

Renee Richardson: I was already on the board of Blue Bear School of Music for a few years when Executive Director Steve Savage talked to me about getting into development. The timing was pretty great because when I got laid off from KFOG, I was like, well the universe just pointed me in the direction of working for Blue Bear! I was very intrigued because I love the school and the mission: teaching people to play the music they love. 

Even though I am at All Within My Hands Foundation, I’m remain on the board of Blue Bear. Now I have experience on both sides of the coin: giving and fundraising.

Silicon Valley Rocks!: You’ve emceed at Silicon Valley Rocks for a few years now. What are some things you like about the event? 

Renee Richardson: Oh, my God, it’s so rewarding to see people who have this creative outlet and this passion for music. To see the other side of them come to life on stage, no matter what they do in the office during the day. They thoughtfully pick the songs and sometimes get dressed in character. 

These people totally bring energy and get their coworkers to come out to see this other side of them. I love to see that. It always helps it that much of the time they play songs that I know—that’s always fun.

Meet Renee and get tickets to Silicon Valley Rocks! here

ABOUT RENEE RICHARDSON

Renée Richardson is best known for her on-air work at KFOG radio in SF. During her 17 year career in SF she helped to create the KFOG Local Scene music series. In 2016 an unexpected shift in the radio station’s direction left Renee wondering, what’s next? Blue Bear School of Music in San Francisco- that’s what! After 3 years as Director of Development for the San Francisco Legacy Business Renee was offered the opportunity of a lifetime, to work with Metallica on helping to navigate their All Within My Hands Foundation. Today she serves on Blue Bear’s Board of Trustees, while also on the Board of Directors for Project Glimmer – we are for the girls! Renee is an experienced emcee. as well as a Missouri School of Auction trained auctioneer with 10 years of experience and countless “SOLD!” items under her belt. After a visit to a Backyard Concert at the Krush one summer Renee found herself jonesing for radio again, thankfully she has found kindred spirits at Wine Country Radio!

Interview with Alan Kissick, Executive Director, American Diabetes Association

Silicon Valley Rocks!: Alan, you are the new executive director of the California and Hawaii chapters of the American Diabetes Association. How did you end up in this role?

Alan Kissick: I guess the story starts about 15 years ago for me. I was working in marketing communications at a marketing agency and was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes. I went into something called diabetic ketoacidosis, which is essentially when the sugar stays in your bloodstream and is unable to get into your cells. I stopped producing insulin, and insulin is the key that opens the door to the cells to feed them nutrition. When it stays in your bloodstream, it becomes incredibly toxic. That’s when you see some of the signs and symptoms of diabetes which include excessive thirst, weight loss, fatigue, etc. 

Silicon Valley Rocks!: That sounds really scary. How old were you at the time? 

Alan Kissick: I went to the hospital and to dialysis. Now, unfortunately, diabetes at many hospitals do not have a dedicated center for people with diabetes. I was 25 years old, and I found myself surrounded by patients suffering from complications of diabetes. That really scared me. I had a lot of questions. I didn’t know what to do, didn’t know what to eat. As I was leaving the hospital, the nurse gave me a brochure and said, “Here’s the 24-7 hotline, 1-888-DIABETES, that you can call with any questions that you might have.” 

So, I called that number and was given other resources like Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation and other materials, but those pamphlets weren’t really speaking to me because they didn’t really cover the condition for people my age—25 years old. I found the information that I was looking for with the American Diabetes Association and was able to get some of the answers on forums and through a community of people that were more like me.

Silicon Valley Rocks!: How did you engage with the ADA at that point?

Alan Kissick: I got involved with a bike ride in support of the ADA called the Tour De Cure. At that event, I actually found that there were thousands of people just like me participating, a kind of peer-to-peer support mechanism. It’s also a challenge since it’s a 100-mile bike ride. I had this fitness goal that I could train for all year round to help me keep my blood sugar in check. So, that experience actually led me to join the American Diabetes Association. I was really excited about the cause, and before I knew it, I became the associate manager of the tour in the Virginia area about 15 years ago.

Silicon Valley Rocks!: So your whole life changed as a result of this diagnosis and set you on a new course professionally? 

Alan Kissick: Yes. The diagnosis of diabetes has taken me on this wonderful journey, and actually, all across the world. I was at the American Diabetes Association in DC/VA for five years from 2005 to 2010 and then the International Diabetes Federation for another five years. And then more recently I joined the ADA again, about a year ago, as the executive director of Northern California and Hawaii where I oversee operations and administration. We do a number of events, research projects here in the Bay Area, and so much more.

Silicon Valley Rocks!: So tell me, I’d heard that you were in the tech industry before. Is that true?

Alan Kissick: Yes, exactly. It’s a little known story. I had left the marketing agency to pursue my own tech startup on digital receipts before anyone was thinking about them. Just after I quit my job, I was diagnosed with diabetes. I had to get insurance as I could not live without insulin.The startup was kind of a night job, but I found that my real passion was working with the Diabetes Association and helping people with diabetes.

Silicon Valley Rocks!: What is the mission of the ADA?  

Alan Kissick: The mission of the American Diabetes Association is to prevent and cure diabetes and improve the lives of anybody affected by diabetes. So, we address all types of diabetes:

-Type 1, which is the auto-immune response type and used to be called juvenile diabetes.

-Type 2, which is oftentimes related to genetics, lifestyle, used to be called adult-onset diabetes. 

-And also gestational diabetes, which is a type of diabetes that emerges during pregnancy and goes away, usually, after pregnancy.

Still to this day, unfortunately, people are developing diabetes earlier and earlier. There are a lot of social determinants affecting people just in the United States alone. There are over 30 million people living with diabetes, and in California, we have 4 million people living with diabetes. And then also 84 million people living with pre-diabetes, a condition in which you have higher than normal glucose in your blood. Unfortunately, more people are getting Type 2 diabetes, and it is becoming a very alarming situation that will likely overwhelm the healthcare system.

Silicon Valley Rocks!: Those are kind of staggering statistics. Will we find a cure for diabetes?

Alan Kissick: We are far from a cure, unfortunately, for Type 2 diabetes. But we’re getting a little bit closer to a cure for Type 1 diabetes. We’re able to identify that Type 1 diabetes is associated with certain antibodies and identify those through genetic research. Type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune disorder, and with all the immunotherapy products that are emerging, there’s promising research that may lead to finding a cure in our lifetimes.

Silicon Valley Rocks!: How can people get involved and support the ADA?

Alan Kissick: I encourage people to attend events like Silicon Valley Rocks! on December 3rd, and similar events like the Silicon Valley Tour de Cure on June 14th, so that we can raise awareness of our agenda, research, and advocacy. On that note, ADA is the largest advocacy shop for diabetes. We’re fighting key issues like insulin affordability, CGM reibursement and access, and much more! You may have heard that insulin has become the most expensive liquid in the world. When I first was diagnosed with diabetes, I could buy a vile of insulin for $50, and now it’s over $200 a vile. And a lot of people, unfortunately, are rationing it because they can’t afford it on a daily basis which leads to a lot of medical complications. 

We are a volunteer organization, and we have been around for 80 years. Every office is volunteer-driven so we are always looking for volunteers ranging from the volunteer leadership board opportunities to day-of-event volunteers.

Every ticket purchased for Silicon Valley Rocks supports the ADA and their work. Learn more about the ADA and how to get involved.