Leadership & Vision

David and Ginny Freeman, co-founders

Founders


David Freeman

David was in the financial services business for 30 years in Houston, New York and San Francisco, where he held senior management positions. Moving to San Francisco in 1997, he joined Ashfield Capital Partners LLC and was a shareholder in the firm. Prior to this, he was with Bessemer Trust in New York and San Francisco.

While living in New York City, he was a Board Member of Cities in Schools (now Communities in Schools), a program developed as a safety net so underserved youth could get the assistance they needed to help them stay in school.

During his 17 years in San Francisco, he was a Board Member of Episcopal Charities, Merola (part of San Francisco Opera) and President of the Northern California Chapter of the American Liver Foundation and on the Vestry of St. Mary the Virgin Episcopal Church.

Ginny Gustafson Freeman

Ginny has spent her life trying to engage both the left and right sides of her brain! She was recruited from Purdue University, where she earned her B.S. degree in Management, by Arthur Andersen & Co. to work for their consulting group in their Chicago HQ.

She relocated to San Francisco to work for Bank of America in tech support then joined IBM, later Lexmark, where she achieved recognition in sales, staff and management roles. At one time, she concurrently owned a retail store on Union Square. After 22 years in the corporate world, Ginny became a self-employed Executive Assistant and for 12 years provided her technical and creative skills to high net worth clients, family offices, and foundations.

In her third career, Ginny started PixElation LLC after coursework at San Francisco’s Academy of Art University. Her most significant project was supervising the duplication of a set of family photos that spanned a period of fifty years and included over 15,000 individual images that were electronically captured, printed, and bound as well as digitally organized and stored.

As a member of a private women’s club, she became chair of the program committee, where she helped organize several dozen speakers, authors, and field trips for the membership and was energized by the shared learning experiences. When David retired in 2015, they decided to move to the wine country and partner together in creating the Sonoma Valley Authors Festival in honor of their mothers,  who were lifelong readers and learners.

Festival Bookstore


Elaine Petrocelli

Founder & President of Book Passage

Elaine, who founded Book Passage 40 years ago, assists in selecting and securing authors to participate in the program, books to be purchased during the book signing sessions and in the promotion of the event. 

Ms. Petrocelli, with her staff of 45 people, in addition to operating two successful bookstores (in Corte Madera, and in the Ferry Building in San Francisco), organizes approximately 900 speaker events each year. This includes authors presenting at her bookstores as well as functions for the Kidney Foundation, Dominican College and other organizations. 

The major publishers include Book Passage on any major book tour for their authors. Her mailing list of clients is extensive and includes publishing a catalog/newsletter of authors on speaking tours promoting their books at her three bookstores, classes, special programs and book suggestions for young readers. 


David & Ginny Freeman’s Vision

At a time when the art of listening seems to be disappearing, the need for civil discourse has never been greater. With so many voices vying for our attention, people are receptive to well-informed speakers and eager for thoughtful conversation and discussion of ideas. The demographic of our attendees reflects that many are at a stage of life where they place a higher value on meaningful experiences than acquiring more material things. In addition, their desire for more intentional uses of time and resources, often called “vacationing with a purpose,” was the genesis of the Sonoma Valley Authors Festival.

After long and fulfilling corporate careers, Sonoma Valley Authors Festival founders Ginny and David Freeman retired to Sonoma. As regular attendees of various public and private lectures, they discovered the world of author and speaker festivals and enjoyed connecting with others dedicated to life-long learning. Living in a region known for outstanding beauty, wine, and food, they felt called to create an experience that celebrates the magic of the Sonoma Valley, enhanced by the power of ideas and conversation fueled by reading.

The mission of the Sonoma Valley Authors Festival is to bring people together to explore a variety of literary genres, discover the advances being made in science, technology and medicine, and foster genuine connections with others; simply stated, to “Stimulate the Minds and Nurture the Souls of Readers.”

At a time when so many voices compete for our attention, forcing us to filter fact from fiction, the Sonoma Valley Authors Festival creates a shared experience. For a weekend, attendees and sponsors are captivated by some of the greatest writers and thinkers of our day. Hearing the story behind the stories, meeting literary heroes and making new connections are experiences that continue to resonate. We hope you agree!