SAN FRANCISCO – (June 28, 2010) Former First Lady Rosalynn Carter, a driving force in the field of mental health, will headline the Commonwealth Club August Series “The Ascent of Women.” Congresswoman Jackie Speier and Jan Yanehiro will ask the question, “What is a woman worth?” and examine the power of women's' voices and actions. These women will be joined by a score of other speakers to investigate the evolving status of women in this month long inquiry. We're a world away from the lives women led in 1900. Or are we? What is the evidence for greater equality, achievement, and recognition of female leadership? How best can support be offered to those women whose lives are still mired in ignorance, discrimination, and abuse? What effects do changes in women's status have on the men of their culture? Such questions are at the heart of the “The Ascent of Women.”

The Club will welcome women of extraordinary achievement in civil rights, technology, science and adventure. In addition, it will host women from Saudi Arabia, Congo, Afghanistan, Israel and Somali who will their share stories of courage, and describe how they were able to overcome obstacles of poverty, persecution and political turmoil. Through a host of speakers, panels, films, and exhibits, and club members, the general public will ponder the societal transformations – both breakthroughs and the disappointments - that today shape the lives of women around the world.

"In my role as a woman executive, I am keenly aware of the debt owed to pioneering women who fought with passion and in the face of great adversity for greater opportunities for women. These events and the conversations they will surely spark, will offer a unique chance to take stock of our successes, as well as, examine the challenges remaining to be surmounted,” said Dr. Gloria Duffy, President and CEO of The Commonwealth Club.

The series organizer, Dr. Carol Fleming, observed, “The ongoing evolution of women's social and political status makes its effects felt in different ways according to factors of culture and otherwise, creating tensions and benefits that need to be better understood. We are so grateful to the many women who have stepped forth to help us tell this story. In this way, we will learn of the achievements of those women who are anchored by human bonds that even terror cannot touch.”

On August 13th First Lady Roslyn Carter will offer her assessment of the state of mental health, as well as a roadmap for its future. She will address the problems facing the current mental health system and offer what she sees as solutions. While scientific breakthroughs have been made, Carter argues that the stigma against the mentally ill is as debilitating as the illness.

A tireless advocate, Carter has been devoted to the prevention and treatment of mental illness since 1970, when her husband was elected governor of Georgia. Since then, she has led The Carter Center's Mental Health Task Force—a group of experts who promote positive change in the mental health field. In addition, the Rosalynn Carter Fellowship provides funding for journalists writing about mental illnesses.

Each year, Carter hosts the Rosalynn Carter Symposium on Mental Health Policy, bringing together leaders of the nation's mental health organizations to address critical issues. During her husband's administration, she became active honorary chair of the President's Commission on Mental Health, which resulted in passage of the Mental Health Systems Act of 1980.

During their time in the White House, (Jan. 20, 1977, to Jan. 20, 1981) President Carter consulted with her constantly and sought her advice on both domestic and foreign affairs. Married to Jimmy at the age of 18, Rosalynn was always politically active, often campaigning on her husband's behalf. She attended Georgia Southwestern College, close to her birthplace of Plains, Georgia.

On July 30th , Mellody Hobson, ABC TV News financial expert, and President of Ariel Investments, will discuss the barriers that confront women in the financial world with a panel of elite women professional money managers. Luz Padilla heads the Emerging Markets Fixed Income Group at DoubleLine Capital, a Los Angeles-based bond management firm, and is Senior Portfolio Manager of emerging markets portfolios at the firm, including the DoubleLine Emerging Markets Fixed Income Fund. Ivka Kalus-Bysticky is Portfolio Manager at The Pax World International Fund. Mary Ellen Stanek is Managing Director and Chief Investment Officer of Robert W. Baird & Co. Serving as moderator will be Cathy Curtis, Investment Advisor at Curtis Financial Planning. Together these women will share stories of their breakthrough successes in this male-dominated field, and tell us how more women can join the small but distinguished ranks of female portfolio managers, analysts and traders.

Other programs feature women from an impressively wide range of fields – scientists, musicians, and farmers,– from remote countries – including the Republic of the Congo and Afghanistan. Key participants are renowned violinist Midori, transatlantic rower Roz Savage, Nobel Prize winner Dr. Elizabeth Blackburn, and Congresswoman Jackie Speier.

Programs scheduled are:

July 30 Friday, 6 p.m. “Outliers and Outperformers: Women in Fund Management”
Speakers: Mellody Hobson, President, Ariel Investments, Ivka Kalus-Bysticky, Portfolio Manager,The Pax World International Fund, Luz Padilla, Head of Emerging Markets Fixed Income, Doubleline, Mary Ellen Stanek, Managing Director, Chief Investment Officer, Robert W. Baird & Co., Cathy Curtis, Investment Advisor, Curtis Financial Planning This small group of elite women who manage money will discuss the inordinately wide gender gaps within this industry, how they achieved their successful, and how more women can become female money managers.

August 2. Monday, 5:30 p.m. “ ‘Under My Skin' by Doris Lessing”
There will be a book discussion of Nobel Prize winner, avowed feminist, and anti-apartheid activist Doris Lessing's autobiography Under My Skin, which begins with her traditional childhood in southern Africa and ends with her arrival in London in 1949.

August 2. Monday, 5:45 p.m. “Population Aging as a Feminist Issue”

Speaker: Adele M. Hayutin, Senior Research Scholar and Director of the Global Aging Program, Stanford Center on Longevity Hayutin will provide a global demographic framework for understanding historical changes in the status of women as well as future challenges and opportunities that older women face. She will highlight women's living arrangements, care-giving responsibilities and potential social isolation.

August 2. Monday, 6 p.m. “The Origins of the Education of Women”
Speaker: Patricia Lundberg, Professor Emerita of English Language and Literature and Women's studies, Indiana University Northwest Patricia Lundberg will discuss the origins of educating women, and how the stifling cultural ideal of uneducated women was challenged and changed so that the ascent of woman could begin.

August 3. Tuesday, 6 p.m. “Girls Gotta Do Business: The Rising Force of Women Entrepreneurs”

Speakers: Alison Covarrubias, Co-founder, The Hatch Network, SF, Baat Enosh, Entrepreneur Alliance Program Director, NCWIT, VP of Operations, Women 2.0, Ayesha Mathews-Wadhwa, Director, Savor the Success, SF Bay Area, Julie Abriams, CEO, Women's Initiative for Self Employment, Cathy Curtis, Financial advisor, Curtis Financial Planning- Moderator Panelists will explore issues surrounding women entrepreneurs, the success of women-owned businesses, and studies that indicate women-owned businesses on average generate less revenue than businesses owned by men.

August 4. Wednesday, 6 p.m. “A Life in Science”

Speakers: Elizabeth H. Blackburn, Ph.D, Novel Laureate, Professor of Biochemistry and Biophysics, UCSF, Susan Desmond-Hellmann, M.D., M.P.H., UCSF Chancellor, Arthur and Toni Rembe Rock Distinguished Professor Blackburn, who received the 2009 Novel Prize in Physiology of Medicine, for her co-discovery of an enzyme that plays a key role in aging and cancer, will discuss her life in science, the benefits of not listening to naysayers, and the difference between good and bad stress.

August 4. Wednesday, 6 p.m. “Yves Saint Laurent: Creating Power in Style for the Modern Woman”
Speaker: Julia Geist, Docent Lecturer, Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco This illustrated lecture is a retrospective of Yves Saint Laurent's imaginative and sexy designs, which radically changed the way women dressed through using traditional symbols of male power-pantsuits and tuxedos-to convey elegance.

August 5. Thursday, 6 p.m. “Kate Kendell, National Center for Lesbian Rights”
Speaker: Kate Kendell, Executive Director, National Center for Lesbian Rights (NCLR) Kendall stands at center stage in our nation's discussion of civil rights and social justice. Topics explored will include the role of women in securing economic parity, marriage equality and parenting rights. Kendall will also share her views on domestic and international issues such as female circumcision, homophobia and bullying in our nation's schools.

August 10. Tuesday, 6 p.m. “Women and Climate Activism from the Courtroom to the Arctic Tundra”
Speaker: Kassie Siegel, Director, Climate Law Institute and Senior Counsel, Center for Biological Diversity Siegel is head of the Climate Law Institute at the Center for Biological Diversity. Siegel will share her journey of helping a tiny nonprofit founded by a quartet of men grow into a national organization with a staff of 60-plus, as well as discuss the Institute's current work battling climate change, ocean acidification and other threats, and offer perspectives for other female activists.

August 10. Tuesday, 6 p.m. “Women, Power and the Media: A Conversation with Joan Walsh”
Speakers: Joan Walsh, Editor in-Chief, , Ysabel Duron, Journalist; Anchor, KRON 4 With the news media still dominated at the top by men, Walsh, editor-in-chief of and a keen observer of the national scene, will discuss the ascent of women and obstacles they face in media and politics.

August 12. Thursday, 6 p.m. “A Thousand Sisters”
Speaker: Lisa Shannon, Author; Journalist Shannon shares her transformation from lapsed idealist to leader of the first national grassroots effort for Congolese women. Anchored by human bonds that terror cannot reach, Shannon explores the world's deadliest war through the harrowing but hopeful stories of the women she has helped and the relationships she has formed.

August 13. Friday, 12 p.m. “Rosalynn Carter: Ending the Mental Health Crisis”
Speaker: Rosalynn Carter, Former First Lady; Author Former First Lady Carter is an icon and an advocate for mental health, early childhood immunization, human rights and conflict resolution through her work at The Carter Center in Atlanta. Carter will discuss her decades working in the mental health field.

August 16. Monday, 5:15 p.m. “Understanding Women's Psychology in the Workplace and Harnessing it for Optimal Results”
Speaker: Dena Anthony, Ph.D., Psychotherapist; Researcher of psychology of women in corporations Drawing on recent research in brain imagery and hormones that highlight the possible bases for differences between men and women's approaches to solving workplace problems, Anthony will suggest how a company might use the inherent variations between the genders to contribute to workplace effectiveness.

August 16. Monday, 6 p.m. “Women Changing the Way We Eat”
Speakers: Temra Costa, Author, Farmer Jane: Women Changing the Way We Eat, Nina Simons, Co-founder and Co-CEO, Bioneers, Collective Heritage Institution, Jesse Ziff Cool, Restaurateur; Cookbook Author, Simply Organic, and Kira Gould, Co-author, Women in Green; Director of Communication, William McDonough & Partners – Moderator Our panel will discuss how women are working diligently and effectively to change the way Americans eat and farm. From bringing organic fruits and veggies into schools to ensuring that farm workers are treated fairly to pioneering new methods of sustainable farming, women are fighting to ensure that we and the planet thrive well into the future.

August 17. Tuesday, 6 p.m. “Beyond Dualities: Power and Love for Women and Men”
Speaker: Miki Kashtan, Co-founder, BayNVC Nonviolent Communication (NVC) offers the premise that women and men share the same human needs and can therefore connect and work together effectively. Through her interactive teaching style that builds on the real-life experiences of her audience, Kashtan will discuss empathetic connection, empowered speech, and having a commitment to both sexes needs.

August 19. Thursday, 6 p.m. "Spin it Green: The Story of Marissa Muller"
Speaker: Marissa Muller, Solar-Powered Bicycle Pioneer After graduating from business school, Muller returned worked on building her vision: a solar powered electric bike. During her 1,000-mile solo adventure on the roads of California, she visited 14 high schools, offering a seminar on solar and electric vehicles. Join her for a conversation about ways to combat our energy and environmental challenges.

August 20. Friday, 12 p.m. “Midori in Conversation with Ruth Felt”
Speakers: Midori, Violinist, Ruth Felt, President, San Francisco Performances Renowned violinist Midori has captured the world's heart with her brilliant performances. In this conversation with her long-time presenter, San Francisco Performances President Felt, Midori will reflect on her community engagement programs that bring music closer to the lives of people who may not otherwise have involvement with the arts.

August 23. Monday, 12 p.m. “Beyond Resilience: The Confidence Factor!”
Speaker: Karen Walker-Tunoa, Resiliency Catalyst; Author, Getting Past Go When Life Says Stop Walker-Tunoa will discuss her extensive research on resilience and its relationship to performance management to offer you ways to develop, strengthen and maximize the use of resilience and confidence to aid in your journey of ascension.

August 23. Monday, 6 p.m. “Remembering Afghan Women”
Speakers: Katherine Brown, Truman National Security Project Fellow; Communications Manager, Asia Foundation; Former Communications and Public Events Advisor, U.S. Embassy in Kabul; Former Deputy National Security Advisor, Kate Francis, Assistant Director, Women's Empowerment Program, the Asia Foundation, Olga Oliker, Senior International Policy Analyst, the RAND Corporation Our experts will address the key challenges that hamper progress in both Afghanistan and South Asia and present possible solutions. The panel will argue that improving the situation of women is the most effective way to ensure sustainable development in the region.

August 24. Tuesday, 6 p.m. “Jackie Speier: What is a Woman Worth?”
Speaker: Jackie Speier, Member of Congress, (D-CA), Jan Yanehiro, Director of Multimedia Communications, Academy of Art University; Broadcast Journalist - Moderator With more than 20 years in national, state and local political work, Speier has set precedents for women and what they are worth in creating state and national politics and policies. Join in this important discussion about the power of women's voices and actions.

August 25. Wednesday, 6 p.m. “The Status of Women in Technology: The Ongoing Challenges of Retention and Advancement”
Speaker: Caroline Simard, Ph.D., Vice President of Research and Executive Programs, Anita Borg Institute for Women and Technology Drawing on a vast array of research, including a large-scale study she conducted with leading technology companies, Simard explores the remaining cultural, organizational and individual barriers to women's retention and advancement in high-tech fields and offers solutions to move women forward in breaking the "Silicon Ceiling."

August 26. Thursday, 6 p.m. “Scenes from ‘Becoming Julian Morgan'"
Speaker: Belinda Taylor, Playwright Julia Morgan has been described as California's most famous architect and the United States' most famous woman architect. Scenes from the award-winning "Becoming Julia Morgan" will be performed by actors and narrated with commentary, by playwright Belinda Taylor.

August 27. Friday, 12 p.m. “The Women of Israel: A Remarkable Diversity”
Speaker: Donna Rosenthal, Author; Journalist; Television Producer Rosenthal will describe the diversity of Israeli women - Christians, Jews, Muslims, Druze - who range from the radically modern to staunchly traditional. Some work in high tech, the government or the military, while others practice polygamous marriages, march in gay pride parades, or support the religious fervor of their husbands.

August 27. Friday, 12 p.m. “Somali Women Promote Peach and Political Participation Amid Armed Conflict”
Speaker: Asha Hagi, Co-founder and Chairperson, Save Somali Women and Children Despite the suffering and marginalization experienced in a patriarchal, patrilineal society, some Somali women have challenged the cultural paradigms. Hagi will describe the innovative creation of a women's network, The Sixth Clan, to facilitate full participation in national politics and the peace process.

August 30. Monday, 6 p.m. “Achieving Success with the Help of a Mentor: Women Advising Women on Power, Progress and Priorities”
Speakers: Mary Stutts, Author, The Missing Mentor; Senior Vice President, Elan Corporation, Evelyn Dilsaver, Former President and CEO, Charles Schwab Investment Management, Mary Cranston, Senior Partner, Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman LLP; Immediate Past Chair and CEO of the Firm This expert panel of powerful women will help answer questions such as: What is my next career move? How can I achieve balance between career and family? How can a mentor help?, based on their own experience and successful business careers, and they will explore top tips and major pitfalls to avoid.

August 31. Tuesday, 6 p.m. “The Taste for Civilization”
Speaker: Janet A. Flammang, Professor and Chair of Political Science, Santa Clara University; Author, The Taste for Civilization: Food, Politics, and Civil Society Professor Flammang combines political theory, feminist analysis and cultural study to explore the familiar world of our dinnertime rituals and the civilizing function of food.

August 31. Tuesday 6 p.m. “Symphony of the Soil”
Speaker: Deborah Koons Garcia, Filmmaker, Lily Films, Mill Valley Filmed on four continents, Symphony of the Soil is a multi-part documentary film series that examines soil in all of its complexity. Come enjoy a special work-in-progress screening of select clips from the film series.

Founded in 1903, The Commonwealth Club of California is the nation's premier public affairs forum, with about 16,000 members. Based in San Francisco and San Jose, the Club hosts over 400 speeches, debates, and discussions each year on issues of regional, national, and international significance. The Club has recently sponsored public policy projects on structural reform of California state governance and on social entrepreneurship. Since 2007, it has hosted ClimateOne, a leadership dialogue on climate change issues. At least half a million people hear The Commonwealth Club's weekly radio broadcasts on more than 200 stations across the country. The Club also broadcasts on XM Satellite Radio and podcasts its programs as well. The Club's programs are now televised on Comcast Premium Digital Cable, FORATV and ABC7, and The Club hosts live interactive broadcasts of its programs on its own Internet channel. For the past century, The Club has fostered free speech and civic dialogue on wide-ranging topics, addressing key issues in society, culture, politics, and the economy. For more information, visit