Monthly news & updates

September 1, 2023


Dearest Members, Supporters and Friends,

With school starting across the county, I was thinking of all the wonderful books my children and I shared over the years and how important reading is to the lives, imaginations and growth of our students (and adults too!).

With that in mind, I decided the time had come to talk about one of our most prodigious local authors/artists who deserves far more accolades and appreciation than he has received by the general public. 

Have you ever wondered why there was a library branch named after Leo Politi? Read this story and you will understand! 

The Leo Politi Story 

Long before diversity was considered important, Leo Politi told the story of the many different cultural communities in our state. Starting with Little Pancho in 1938, to Moy Moy, to his autobiographical book, Little Leo, he presented the communities of immigrants and indigenous peoples to generations of young children from the 1930s to today. Children can see themselves in these images and his gentle stories which confirm the beauty of the human spirit.

The charming children’s book, Little Leo, tells the story of Leo’s early life in Fresno. He was born here in 1908 on a small ranch to Italian immigrant parents. His father trained horses for the famous Buffalo Bill Cody’s Wild West Show as well as for other show-business “cowboys.”  

In 1914 when Leo’s family returned to Italy, Leo wore his “Indian” costume including feather headdress, fringed vest and leather chaps every day. He taught the children of his mother’s village of Broni, Italy, how to whoop it up like performers in the western shows and movies. The village children had their mothers make them similar costumes to run through the small streets and piazzas.

Later, precocious artistic talent earned him a scholarship to the Royal Art School at Monza in Italy. At age 21 in 1930, he returned to the U.S. on a freighter which took him through Panama, Central America, Mexico and many colorful ports. He was especially impressed by Latin American culture, with its vibrant colors and the deep love of family.  

The Fresno born artist and writer later set up as a street artist in Los Angeles where he painted his unique pictures of the children on Olvera Street in the heart of the barrio near Chinatown and Little Tokyo. There he was discovered by a publisher of children’s books which led to his career as a writer and artist. He went on to publish 20 children’s books, as well as adult books about Los Angeles architecture, preserving, at least the images, of lost buildings. 

Leo won the Caldecott Medal for Song of the Swallows published in 1949, the highest honor for an illustrator. He said at the time, “In all my books I try to embody certain universal things: the warmth and happiness of family life; my love for people, animals, birds, and flowers. My love for the simple, warm and earthy things, from the humblest house to a little tree to the tiniest seashell; for the things made by hands, the sewing of a dress, the painting of a picture and for the singing of songs and the movements of the body in dancing - all those arts which are instinctive forms of expression. I feel that it is only through the respect and continuity of our heritage that we can build foundation with strong roots for our future.”

His many other awards are documented in his biography, Leo Politi, Artist of the Angels by Ann Stalcup.  

Many Fresno teachers have valuable illuminated and signed copies of Politi books from the numerous workshops Leo gave here with Arnie Nixon. The Arnie Nixon Library at CSUF also has a Politi collection and a garden created in his memory by Robert Boro. 

The Catholic Library Association each year presents the Regina Medal of excellence to one living exemplar of the words of the English poet, Walter de la Mare "only the rarest kind of best in anything can be good enough for the young," for continued, distinguished contribution to children's literature without regard to the nature of the contribution. In 1966, Leo Politi was the recipient of this distinguished award. In 1980, a branch of the Fresno Public Library was named for him, and in 1991, the Leo Politi Elementary School was dedicated to him in Koreatown, a neighborhood in the Mid-Wilshire district of the City of Los Angeles. There is also a Leo Politi Square in Echo Park where he lived for many years, He is the father of record producer, song composer and videographer Paul Leo Politi, who composed over 40 love songs with maestro Barry White.

Thanks to the Friends of the Leo Politi Library (and their parent organization, the Friends of the Fresno County Public Library), your Fresno City & County Historical Society is honored to be collaborating on a short documentary about Leo Politi that, hopefully if we do a good job, will air on Valley PBS, Channel 18, later in the year. 

In the meantime, encourage your loved ones, including yourself, to find a good book to enjoy as we head toward the fall season. Pick a colorful, vibrant story to read with your little: a real book with illustrations and pages that turn. You will be surprised how much of an impression regular reading time makes on everyone!

We will let you know when the Politi film is coming out – what an exciting project to be working on…and we may just have some other major news to share soon. 

With great anticipation, 

Elizabeth Laval                                               


Fresno City and County Historical Society 



by Candice Calderon

Back in early 2022, I made a cold call to a lumber site along California Avenue located just two minutes from the Kearney Mansion Museum. I was fascinated by the gigantic red Sequoia trees that I saw lying in the Welker Custom Lumber yard. The owner, Kristopher Welker, invited me to take a tour of his lumber yard due to my involvement with the Fresno County Historical Society. He made a great case for the link between forestry and agriculture which I knew had to be shared on the Fields of Fresno Ag Tour. Kristopher shared his family’s history and how his grandfather had memories of watching Martin T. Kearney drive his locomobile in the area. Their family started off in cattle and transitioned into forestry on the same lot. The red Sequoia trees are only harvested from the Sierra Nevada mountains if they have already died. They are then transported to their southwest Fresno lumber site, where most of the clients who frequent this location are residents doing home improvement projects. This first stop will be a treat on our October 7th Ag Tour. 

The second Ag site is Fresno’s one and only Fresno Livestock Commission. They hold national awards in animal care as they are Valley leaders in public cattle auctioning. They are just a minute away from Washington Union High School in Easton, CA. Our tour will be guided by one of the owners and managers, Cindy Tews. Not only do I love the fact that Cindy takes pride in the quality of their animal care, but onsite they have a cozy mom and pop breakfast café. Their farmer’s breakfast can hold you over for the entire day!

Our last stop on FCHS's Ag Tour before returning to the Kearney Mansion Museum is one of Fresno’s finest. Full Circle Brewery, located in Downtown Fresno’s Brewery District, is where we will enjoy lunch (provided by Fresno’s Livestock Commission’s café) and a flight tasting of local beers from Full Circle. Now if you are not much of a beer drinker, I understand. Most of our Ag Tours end with wine tasting at a local winery; but this round we will taste the curated local beers that have award-winning flavors. Full Circle Brewery is known for converting those who “aren’t so much into beer” into Full Circle brew lovers. 

Reserve your seat on our air-conditioned and spacious motorcoach bus HERE for Saturday, October 7th. As a bonus we always host a pre-Ag Tour wine mixer the Friday afternoon before each Ag adventure. So, for those who reserve an Ag Tour seat on Saturday, October 7th you are also invited to our wine mixer on Friday, October 6th at the Kearney Mansion from 3 pm – 4:30 pm. For additional details please contact me, Candice Calderon, at




We are ecstatic to announce our new discourse series, History Happy Hour! These conversations will feature guest speakers sharing their knowledge and passion for history and cultural heritage in a symposium setting. Each History Happy Hour will include light hor d'oeuvres, a beverage ticket, and a riveting educational discussion. We strive to bring a variety of guests to engage with on diverse topics and elements of our Valley’s history.

Our first HHH will be a conversation with Fresno based artists: Kambryá Bailey, Audia Dixon, Paige Mason and Kristen Stain.

Join us as we have a celebratory discussion about the impact of Fresno’s rich cultural history and what the future looks like creatively through the lens of four dynamic African American female artists and NeFesha Ruth Yisra’el, the Founder and CEO of Black Folk Art, a bi-annual international magazine and arts advocacy and education agency. NeFesha holds a master’s degree in urban studies with a concentration in Community Arts and is currently pursuing her Ph.D. in Organizational Leadership. She worked as an Arts Administrator and Community Organizer in Philadelphia, PA, before moving to Fresno, CA, as the Chief Organization Officer for All Things Royal Roots. She most recently served as the Executive Director of the African American Historical and Cultural Museum of the San Joaquin Valley. NeFesha is also a two-time national boxing champion and was a bantamweight fighter for Team USA and is also a member of The Fresno (CA) Chapter of The Links, Incorporated. A descendent of Araminta Ross, more widely known as Harriet Tubman, NeFesha inherited the spirit of the woman they called “Moses” and works to liberate her community’s mind, soul and body as her ancestors before her.

Join us at the historic Kearney Mansion from 5:30pm to 7:30pm on Friday, October 13, 2023, for our first History Happy Hour!



By: Nancy Faria, Event Manager

There will be something for everyone at the Time Travelers’ Country Fair on Saturday, October 21st from 11:00am to 5:00pm at beautiful Kearney Park. From the delicious offerings of Fresno Street Eats food trucks and classic carnival games to a free Kids Zone entertaining the younger crowd and a wine garden hosted by the San Joaquin Valley Wine Growers Association, everyone is guaranteed a great time. You also have an opportunity to purchase tickets to an exclusive lunch on the veranda of the Kearney Mansion provided by Chef Paul with a special mystery guest.

Do yourself a favor and start your Christmas shopping early! Local artisans will be on hand with one-of-a-kind items, beauty products and snacks; a cultural parade around Kearney Mansion may include Taiko drummers, Chinese Lion dancers, Mariachis or Folklorico dancers; free musical entertainment will be provided by Uncle Ephus and Roger Perry; you may even have a chance to sit down and chat with none other than M. Theo Kearney himself.

Please visit our website for advance purchase of admission and to secure the limited tickets to our special lunch on the Veranda. See you at the Time Travelers’ Country Fair!

Have a tasty recipe that’s been handed down through generations? Continue reading below for details on our planned Vintage Recipe Contest as part of Time Travelers Country Fair.

Event Tickets and Information


Recipe Contest - Get In On The Action And

You Can Win Your Very Own GOLDEN SPATULA!

by Lori C. Hunter

First things first, what prompted this idea? Well, this all started as I was reminiscing about family members who would enter recipe contests that randomly appeared in the local newspaper, being hosted by this organization or that organization. In Illinois, where I am from, it was always either the Police or Fire Departments or the Knights of Columbus, who would be curating those recipe contests, which everyone wanted to enter! And then, upon moving to Fresno, there were the additional recipe columns in the Fresno Bee, which my Mother and I would cut out and save for some future date when that recipe would be trotted out for extensive examination and experimentation. Those are the kind of memories that last a lifetime. As we all know, food weaves its delicious tendrils throughout history and we want you to be here for all of it and experience those same things with your family members. As digital lives have made so many things much more convenient, there is still something so satisfying about leafing through time-worn pages of a beloved cookbook or handed-down family recipes, faded handwritten notes in the margins; your history breathing through that page. We want to create this with the people in Fresno County - with the many communities that call Fresno “home”, I would love to see every neighborhood and district have representation in this cookbook as it truly illustrates the wealth of cultures that embody Fresno County. We have the resources here that could create a delicious patchwork of flavors that would be second to none. Please consider joining us in this celebration of culinary delights rooted in Fresno County that help make the Central Valley amazing. 

Do you have a fantastic recipe that’s been handed down in your family for generations, that you are always sharing with everyone? Or maybe there is a very special concoction that brings happy memories flooding back to mind - this is your chance to go down into Fresno County history. Your recipe will be going into the Fresno County Historical Society Cookbook 2023-2024!

Three lucky winners will win the ever-coveted Golden Spatula! The Fresno County Historical Society is wanting the best of the best of vintage recipes in three primary categories: Main Dish, Side Dish or Dessert. Those submitted prior to October 15th may have the opportunity to present your time-honored recipe dish to be judged at our Time Travelers’ Country Fair on Saturday, October 21st, 2023!

The Important Details For Competing at the Time Travelers’ Country Fair: 

1. Recipe origin needs to be pre-1983.

2. One recipe entry per category is allowed (though entry for multiple categories is perfectly okay!)

3. Online submission is required - you can complete the form HERE - entry is due by October 15th and you will need to upload a copy of your recipe and provide a brief history of the recipe or some details that make this submission special.

4. Please ensure that your recipe is complete and includes all of the steps.

5. All contestants will receive a copy of the bound cookbook of the submitted recipes. Additional copies will be available for purchase in our Kearney Ranch Kitchen Gift Shop.

Click Here to Enter Now 


The African American Farmers of California

Many Valley residents have never heard of the African American Farmers of California, or have knowledge that there is a farm site right here in Fresno. The African American Farmers of California is a non-profit organization headquartered in the heart of the Central Valley.

Their mission is “to increase, within the African American farming community, an appreciation and understanding of applied resource management, through the promotion of sound farmland management, technology, community, marketing & outreach to urban and rural areas.”

Currently, the organization operates a 16-acre demonstration site hosting classes for six Black farmers on sustainable farming traditions, healthy soil, irrigation, equipment repair, planting, cover crops, seasonal maintenance and harvesting.

The demonstration site is located just beyond Kearney Park on Fair and California streets, an absolute hidden gem! Our Fields of Fresno Ag Tours visit this site one to two times per season due to the inspiring story shared by farmer, Chris Fields.

Chris is passionate about teaching Valley youths about the importance of farming, how to cultivate the land, how to identify which crops grow in which climates and during which seasons to plant and harvest. He encourages the younger generation to learn how to live with the land, not just on it.

During our August Ag Tour, Chris and his family shared their story and the mission of the African American Farmers of California with us, discussing the value in supporting local family farms, teaching farming skills and eating fresh produce.

Sadly, just as the demonstration farm started getting more notoriety within our community, selling their organic produce boxes and t-shirts to support their mission and projects, their farm was burglarized, their tractors and tools were stolen.

Chris remains positive and continues to work on the farm and educate on their program and projects. They are selling their produce boxes and t-shirts on Thursdays at the demonstration site and they have a GoFundMe to raise funds to replace their stolen equipment. To learn more about the organization you can connect with them on FaceBook


Andrew Mattei and the Mattevista Winery Story 

Andrew Mattei poses in from of his Mattevista Winery building, circa 1913

Andrew Mattei (c. 1856 – 1931) was a Swiss-Italian winemaker who immigrated to Fresno around 1890, where he founded the Mattevista Winery in Malaga in 1893. 

Mattevista Wines Shows Superiority of Fresno-Made Wines at 1915 Panama-Pacific International Expo 

His vineyards grew from 80 acres at its start to 1,200 acres in 1910. By 1915, his winery was reported as "among the largest in the state." The processing of sweet wine and grape brandy at that time had developed more than in any other part of the state. The California Wine Association controlled the bulk of the sweet wine and brandy output of the San Joaquin Valley and had about $10,000,000 invested in wineries. Prior to 1912, Mattei had sold most of his output in bulk but then decided to establish selling agencies, allowing his products to be found all around the United States.

In 1915, Mattevista Wines were awarded many medals at the Panama-Pacific International Exposition in San Francisco, solidifying the brand’s place in local and international winemaking history.

Mattevista Port” Ad - Bottled at the Vineyard with the following text: Ten years old—means ten years old—not five, or four, or maybe even two. Comparing this number with the wine one ordinarily buys from a liquor store or wholesaler, they don’t seem to belong even to the same family. If you’re thinking of putting any port away for the long dry spell better buy at once. The supply is limited, and at the price at which we offer it, our stock of this number shouldn’t last very long. Buy one bottle and you’ll buy your whole supply of this wonderful vintage. Grown, aged and bottled at the vineyard, Fresno, Calif. 2 Full Quarts Prepaid $2.95

Newspaper clipping announces that Andrew Mattei signed a crop contract

The Fresno Morning Republican newspaper reported as front-page news on April 28, 1923 that Andrew Mattei would, for the first time, add 160 of his acres to the Sun-Maid Raisin Association. Though the “large vineyards of the San Joaquin” had a much larger number of acres, they were planted to non-raisin grapes. 

Mattei and wife Eleanor had three children, Andrew, Jr., Anne and Eleanor Theodolinda. According to family history, Mattei's children did not want to follow their father into the wine business and so, fearing his company would be dissolved after his death, Mattei commissioned a 12-story office building in Fresno to bear his name as his way of “leaving a legacy.” The Mattei Building was one of several high-rise commercial structures erected in downtown Fresno during the 1920s.  

The Mattei Building in downtown Fresno built by Andrew Mattei, circa 1920

Original Mattei Building as the Guarantee Savings Building

Unfortunately, the building, constructed on the site of Fresno’s original water tower at the southwest corner of Fresno and Fulton streets, only bore his name for a couple of decades before being renamed for its location and, eventually, became the Guarantee Savings Building in 1961 when it was heavily remodeled. The original classic columns and capitals are still visible from the alley behind the building.

Despite Mattei's concerns, the Mattei Winery and its Mattevista Wines brand name continued to operate after the repeal of Prohibition. In the 1940s, the concern was run by Alta Vineyard Company. This corporation, which also did business as Cameo Vineyards Company, was the successor to many a famous name in the history of the California wine industry. 

A new co-operative of wine grape growers was formed in the fall of 1954, under Cameo Growers, who contracted with Alta for the making and selling of wine from their grapes.

Labels for Mattei wine under the Alta Vineyards brand

The winery's two principal brands were Alta and C.V.C. (Cameo Vineyards Company), used for a full line of dessert and table wines, while Croix Royale was used for the older wines. Dessert wines were the company's primary business. Additional brands included Mattei, Mattevista, Scatena and St. Charles, some of which have been famous at one time or another in the history of the California wine industry.

Nearly 150 years later, Joey and Debbie Milla would continue the Mattei family legacy through Milla Vineyards. Making wine the traditional way. The winemaking style at Milla Vineyards included using only natural yeast that grew on the grapes to start the fermentation on its own and let the fermentation cease of its own accord as well. After ten to fourteen days, the juice was pumped into barrels. This is called “free run juice” as the grapes were not pressed. This process created more “fruit -forward” wine that was low in tannins. After aging in barrels for eight to fourteen months, the wine could be bottled and enjoyed. 

Mattei and Milla Families listed together in the 1910 Census

The name Milla was taken from Andrew Mattei’s sister, Filomena, who, according to the 1910 Fresno County census, was a part of the Mattei household along with her two young children, presumably having married into the Milla family. 


By: Cami Cipolla, Education Director

Hello Friends of the Archives!

We often get asked what are the Archives and what is their purpose?

An Archive is a place where people can go to gather firsthand facts, data and evidence from letters, reports, notes, memos, photographs and other primary sources. Through these items we can learn about the past via the eyes of those that experienced it. We can discover the truths of our history, how people lived, what types of jobs they had and what businesses were like.

As we prepare to open the third floor of the historic Kearney Mansion to the public, we look to the Archives for guidance on how to share the history of the Kearney Ranch with you. We have been able to look through the Kearney Ranch business ledgers, residents’ records, oral histories, images and other documentation that illustrates what daily work and life was like for those on the Ranch.

When we host our Time Travelers Education Days and Country Fair in October, we will utilize the Archives to create an opportunity for our community to travel back in time to Fresno County’s early years.

This immersive experience will include historical figures like M. Theo Kearney, Dagmar Frisselle, Minnie Eshelman, Julia Bell and others whose stories are held within our collections. By reading the diaries and letters of these people and seeing their images and scrapbooks, we will be able to accurately portray them and share our history through their eyes. Families will have the opportunity to engage with items within the Archives that tell our stories in a fun and interactive way like the Fresno scraper, carriages and other artifacts.

People continue to donate items, images, scrapbooks and their family histories to the Archives. This helps us to continue to tell the stories of life in Fresno County. Just last week we accessioned photographs, family histories, slides and documents of a local family with Valley roots dating back to the early 1900s when they first immigrated from Armenia. Their donation gives us a glimpse into their immigration experience and their life in Fresno. It is truly important to write down our memories and family histories so future generations can trace their histories and shape the future.

Cheers friends!



The Fresno County Historical Society has so many great events planned this fall, you’re going to want to attend them all!

But for now, the staff here at the Fresno County Historical Society, are giving you the to-do list to make 2023 the best yet! These are no run-of-the-mill history events - these are the “oh my gosh, let’s call everyone we know so we can all get tickets!” type of events, so make sure you save the dates, get your tickets to those that are available, mark your calendars for those still-to-come and bring all your friends, because THESE are the things that memories - and history! - are made of!

Saturday, September 30th

Get it on your calendar now, because we have a brand new and flavorful event for you and yes, everyone will want to attend! Sip and Smoke is taking a guy's night (and ladies too) out to a whole new level; Whiskey Tasting and Cigars on the Veranda of Kearney Mansion! We have even crafted a special VIP experience! Get your tickets while you still can.

Saturday, October 7th

Don't miss the most unique tour in our Fields of Fresno Ag Tour series. This October guests will board our luxury motor coach for a tour that includes Forestry, Livestock and Beer. Don't miss this one!

Friday, October 13th

Join us at Kearney Mansion for History Happy Hour at 5:30pm. Our guest speaker will be NeFesha Ruth with a presentation on Black Folk Art. Tickets are $30. Members are $25.

Saturday, October 21st - Tickets Available Now

You and your family will travel back in time to Fresno County’s early years with this immersive experience, the Time Travelers' Country Fair, where you will see musical and cultural performances, and meet historical figures like M. Theo Kearney! You may even get to play games or see a Recipe Competition! Join us and visit Fresno County like you’ve only seen in history books!

Thursday, October 26th, Friday, October 27th,

Saturday, October 28th or Sunday, October 29th

You KNOW you want these tickets! These event nights sell out way in advance every year, so if you don’t have them already, you need to get them now before they are gone - Mystery at Kearney Mansion! The question is - can you solve the murder before the end of the story? Join us and find out if you have what it takes to be a top-notch detective!

Friday, November 24th

Come join us for the Opening Day of Christmas at Kearney! The Fresno County Historical Society is bringing Christmas to the Kearney Mansion Museum & Gallery, displaying decorated trees, each representing a local decorator's interpretation of a favorite Christmas story for our Holiday Tales theme. 

Saturday, December 2nd

Members Only Reception - A very special holiday evening reception to ring in the holiday season with our staff. This evening is for members only, so be sure to join or renew your membership before then!

Saturday, December 2nd - Sunday, December 3rd

You definitely want to save the dates for our Santa Meet & Greet! Create a unique family memory in a gorgeous setting this year with your family, take pictures with our Victorian Santa and enjoy a self-guided tour of this historic home decorated with Christmas trees representing historic Holiday Tales!

Saturday, December 9th

Two words that families look forward to seeing each and every holiday season: HOLIDAY TEA!

Be sure to save this date as you don’t want to miss the opportunity to enjoy the elegance of HolidayTea served in the Mansion dining and reception rooms surrounded by Christmas trees. The event includes a guided tour of the Mansion and a Gallery talk. Tickets will be on sale September 15th.

Saturday, January 6th

Christmas at Kearney Closing Day - your last chance to take in the holiday glory of the Season!

Tickets and Event Information



The Year Was 1937 ... 

The Depression dragged on, war was imminent, FDR had begun his second term ...

Fewer than sixty thousand people lived in the City of Fresno's ten square miles. Fulton Street was the center of business with electrically powered streetcars running down the middle. Fresno State Teacher's College was permitted to drop "Teacher" from its name. 

In the neighboring town of Hanford, Clio Lee Aydelott, a woman of letters, hoped to make an addition to our valley's intellectual and cultural life by providing a venue for thinking adults to become better informed. 

As a founding member of San Joaquin Chapter of the League of Western Writers, Mrs. Aydelott frequently travelled to San Francisco, where she became familiar with the new lecture series Dr. Alan Rappaport had established in twenty different U.S. cities. Believing that our valley needed what she called "this unique medium," Clio convinced Dr. Rappaport to bring his lecture series to Fresno. On January I0, 1938, the first lecture of the Fresno Town Hall Forum was presented in Hardy’s Theater. The series, which consisted of seven morning and six evening lectures, was so well received that a second season was booked for the fall. 

In 1946 the women of Town Hall decided that they could produce the lecture series independently. That fall, the newly formed San Joaquin Valley Town Hall of Fresno began the series of six morning lectures, which continue today. 

The morning series moved from Hardy's in 1960 to a season at Warnors Theater, then to a five-year stay at the Wilson Theater. When the Convention Center was ready for business, a newly incorporated San Joaquin Valley Town Hall, Inc., a tax exempt 50I(c)3 nonprofit organization, moved into the center's Saroyan Theatre. 

Over the years, Town Hall has brought hundreds of speakers - the intellects, scientists, pundits and cultural icons of their times - to the Saroyan stage to provide stimulating, intellectual entertainment. 

Clio Aydelott hoped that Town Hall would become "a guide to forming a clearer and broader viewpoint." As the bell ringer again opens our lectures in our eighth decade, we believe Clio would be pleased. 

And Today ... 

What San Joaquin Valley Town Hall offers in an increasingly digital world: a face-to-face encounter with the personalities, minds, and experiences of national figures in the arts, sports, history, politics, medicine and science who make a difference in our world; an enriched cultural and intellectual life for our whole community; a social and stimulating outlet for the older, retired segment of our community; a source of information for all ages of those who seek thought-provoking interactions; inspiration for our younger generation, our students, who are developing members of society. Coming to the Saroyan, often for the first time, Valley students are inspired by meeting people who, because of their passion, education, and dedication to their causes, make a difference in our world. 

Visit VALLEYTOWNHALL.COM for more information on our exciting slate of upcoming speakers!

Amber Straughn - October 18, 2023

We are starting off our 87th season with a “big bang!” Dr. Amber Straughn, astrophysicist and communications liaison for NASA will share the latest images from the James Webb telescope. Her expertise in galaxy formation, evolution, and black hole growth makes her the perfect interpreter to help us decode the mysteries of the universe.

Cedric Alexander - November 15, 2023

In November we will welcome Dr. Cedric Alexander, a seasoned voice of reason, with over 40 years of experience in law enforcement and a doctorate in clinical psychology. Highly sought after for his wise perspective and forward-thinking solutions, Dr. Alexander will share his vision for creating safer communities here in Fresno and across the United States.

Cristina Mittermeier - January 17, 2024

We’ve all heard the saying, “a picture is worth a thousand words.” Our next speaker has built a career on this idea. Cristina Mittermeier is not merely at the forefront of conservation photography, she is the first to coin the term, and in 2005 created the International League of Conservation Photographers. She is also co-founder of the nonprofit organization SeaLegacy. Mittermeier has dedicated her life to protecting the world’s oceans and documenting the effects of climate change on wildlife and the remote communities she has encountered on her journeys.

Christine Baranski - February 21, 2024

Fans of the character Diane Lockhart in The Good Wife and The Good Fight, or perhaps the movie Mama Mia or the television shows Cybill or The Big Bang Theory will want to join us in February when we meet comedic actress Christine Baranski. Granddaughter of actors in the Polish theater, graduate of Juilliard, friend of Audra McDonald, Christine is an Emmy, two-time Tony, Screen Actors Guild and American Comedy Award winner. She will share her journey from Broadway to Hollywood.

Ken Duckworth - March 20, 2024

In March, Dr. Ken Duckworth, chief medical officer for the National Alliance on Mental Illness, will broach the serious topic of Mental Health in an uplifting, approachable way. Dr. Duckworth’s journey into psychiatry started when he was a boy living with a creative, loving dad who experienced severe bipolar disorder. He desperately wished for a book where he could learn from others who had lived in similar conditions. Ken’s book, You Are Not Alone, is a collection of real stories curated to convey the idea that it’s okay to talk about these struggles.

Alton Brown - April 17, 2024

We will conclude our season with the legendary and multi-faceted Food Network host, Alton Brown. Best known for his long-running series Good Eats, Alton Brown combines his love of food with his love of science. In addition to the Good Eats franchise of shows and cookbooks, Alton can be seen hosting food competition shows such as Iron Chef America and Cutthroat Kitchen. His time with Town Hall is guaranteed to be informative and entertaining.