A frequent contributor to The Philadelphia Inquirer and The Hudson Review, critic Susan Balée is the author of Flannery O'Connor: Literary Prophet of the South (1994), as well as biographical essays on figures ranging from Romantic poet John Clare to contemporary novelist Jim Crace for Scribner's British Writers series.
Yvon Chouinard is founder and owner of Patagonia Clothing Company. He began his career by designing, manufacturing, and distributing rock-climbing equipment, and is known for revolutionizing both rock-climbing and ice-climbing equipment. A tireless adventurer, philanthropist, and supporter of environmental causes, Chouinard is the author of the memoir Let My People Go Surfing (2005).
Dana Gioia, former Chairman of the National Endowment for the Arts, is an acclaimed poet, critic, and literary anthologist. His third collection of poetry, Interrogations at Noon (2001), won the American Book Award. He has also written collections of essays, including Can Poetry Matter?: Essays on Poetry and American Culture (1992; 2002) and Disappearing Ink: Poetry at the End of Print Culture (2004).
As Curator of Literary Manuscripts at the Huntington Library in San Marino, California, Sara S. Hodson oversees the Jack London collection. Hodson co-edited Jack London: One Hundred Years a Writer (2002) and is the President of the Jack London Society.
Dog behaviorist Cheri Lucas is the founder of the Second Chance at Love Humane Society, a non-profit, no-kill organization dedicated to caring for and finding homes for abused and abandoned dogs.
Actor-director Robert Redford is best known for roles in Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid (1969), The Sting (1973), The Great Gatsby (1974), Out of Africa (1985), and Lions for Lambs (2007). He won an Academy Award for directing Ordinary People (1980). With grant support from the National Endowment for the Arts, Redford in 1980 created the Sundance Institute, whose film festival and workshops earned him an honorary Oscar in 2002. In 2010, he was inducted into the French Legion of Honor.
Richard Rodriguez may be best known for his memoirs, a trilogy on U.S. public life: Hunger of Memory: The Education of Richard Rodriguez (1982), Days of Obligation: An Argument with My Mexican Father (1992), and Brown: The Last Discovery of America (2002). For more than ten years, Rodriguez appeared as an essayist on The NewsHour with Jim Lehrer.
One of California's leading historians, Kevin Starr teaches history at the University of Southern California. He served as the State Librarian of California from 1994 to 2004. He is best known for his multi-volume history series collectively called Americans and the California Dream. Also the author of California: A History (2005).