Leadership: Board of Directors

Mike Farrah, Leo Villareal, Will Roger Peterson, Jennifer Raiser, David Walker, Michael Mikel, Crimson Rose, Chip Conley, Kay Morrison, Larry Harvey, Marian Goodell, Rae Richman, Harley K. DuBois, Christopher Weitz, Terry "Lightning" Gross, Mercedes Martinez, Christopher Bently

Mike Farrah, Leo Villareal, Will Roger Peterson, Jennifer Raiser, David Walker, Michael Mikel, Crimson Rose, Chip Conley, Kay Morrison, Larry Harvey, Marian Goodell, Rae Richman, Harley K. DuBois, Christopher Weitz, Terry “Lightning” Gross, Mercedes Martinez, Christopher Bently

Christopher Bently

Christopher Bently moved to San Francisco in 1984 where he immediately developed a deep love for the city, its architecture, and its people. Today he is an avid environmentalist, musician and businessman with an affinity for foreign languages and travel. In 2001 he and his wife, Amber Marie Bently founded Bently Holdings, an environmentally conscious, investment and holding company focused on architecturally significant and historic buildings as well as preserving open land.Working to maintain the harmonic balance between nature and civilization also prompted the endeavor of Bently Biofuels, which produces biodiesel processed from waste vegetable oil for consumer and agricultural use. It was his first voyage to Black Rock City that revolutionized his life. The Playa is where he learned of a community based solely on gifting, art, music, self reliance and love. This profound experience prompted a major course correction in his life and made him the awarded philanthropist he is today. He advises and sits on the board of several organizations both for and nonprofit that are associated with preserving the environment or the arts. Chris is a very proud member of the communities of San Francisco and Black Rock City always working to improve,
maintain and merge the spirit and integrity of both.

Chip Conley

Chip Conley is the founder and CEO of Joie de Vivre Hospitality, California’s largest boutique hotel company which was founded in 1987. At the age of 26 with no industry experience, Chip created The Phoenix, taking a 1950′s seedy motel and turning it into a world-renowned “rock ën roll hotel” that catered to celebrities from David Bowie to Linda Ronstadt. Building on transformational leadership practices, and an innovative design formula that enables customers to experience an “identity refreshment,” the company now consists of over 40 unique and award-winning hotels, restaurants and spas across the state with over 3,000 employees and revenues approaching $250 million. Joie de Vivre was awarded the 2nd Best Place to Work in the San Francisco Bay Area in 2008. Chip and his company’s time-tested techniques have been featured in TIME, Fast Company, Fortune, People and the Wall Street Journal.

In his most recent book, PEAK: How Great Companies Get Their Mojo from Maslow, Jossey-Bass, 2007, Chip shares his unique prescription for success based on the iconic Hierarchy of Needs. His new theory illustrates how Employees, Customers and Investors are ultimately motivated by peak experiences–and he demonstrates how to create these for each using real-world examples from his own company and peak performers like Southwest Airlines, Apple, Whole Foods Markets, and Harley-Davidson. Chip has delivered numerous key note presentations and leadership seminars to diverse industries from health care to high-tech to non-profit arts organizations. He has spoken to hundreds of corporate groups from Schwab to State Farm Insurance to Google. Chip’s other books include The Rebel Rules: Daring to be Yourself in Business, Simon & Schuster, 2001 and Marketing That Matters: 10 Practices That Can Profit Your Business and Change the World, co-authored with Eric Friedenwald- Fishman, Berrett-Koehler Publishers, 2006.

Chip has been honored with top hospitality industry awards and, in 2008, Chip was selected as one of four finalists for the 2008 “Corporate Hotelier of World” award by the prestigious Hotels magazine. Chip is a big believer in giving back to the community and is recognized as a committed and creative philanthropist. He is the founder of San Francisco’s Annual Celebrity Pool Toss, which has raised over $3 million for inner city youth programs now thriving in the troubled neighborhood where he launched his first hotel. He is a member of the Young President’s Organization and received his BA and MBA from Stanford University. In 2007, Chip was named the Bay Area’s Most Innovative CEO by the SF Business Times, among business leaders across all industries in the Silicon Valley, San Francisco and East Bay business communities.

Harley K. Dubois

Founding Board Member

A founding member of the Burning Man Board, Harley K. Dubois brings to bear over 15 years of project management, art and city planning experience.

As the City Manager of Black Rock City, Harley oversees both the Playa Safety Council and Community Services departments, ensuring that the citizens of BRC are happy and safe, including ingress, life on playa, and egress. She originated theme camp placement, the Greeters, Playa Info, Burning Man Information Radio, and has kindled the development of all other Community Service teams. Harley also created and maintains a comprehensive training and self- development program for the Burning Man staff, fostering the concepts of volunteerism and cross-departmental communication.

Harley is a founding member of the Black Rock Arts Foundation, where she chairs the grants committee and acts as the foundation’s liaison with the Burning Man Project. She is fully engaged in program development and works closely with the Executive Director and other staff members in conducting day-to-day operations.

Harley has an extensive education and history in the visual and performing arts, has been a fitness director and a San Francisco fire fighter.

Mike Farrah

Michael Farrah has worked in government and politics at the municipal, state and national levels for the last 20 years. Farrah has worked as an advisor to public officials including San Francisco Mayors Edwin Lee, Gavin Newsom, and Frank Jordan, San Francisco Supervisors Michela Alioto-Pier, Bill Maher, Angela Alioto, Annemarie Conroy, and Barbra Kaufman, and United States Congressman Tom Lantos.

In 2004, Farrah traveled to the Black Rock Desert and experienced Burning Man for the first time. The immersion in community and the arts altered his life in ways that he never imagined possible; it fundamentally changed the way that he viewed government and its responsibility to the arts and changed his perceptions about how community could be built.

He has previously served on the Board of the Arab Culture and Community Center in San Francisco. He is married to Maya Draisin and lives in Manhattan, New York with his sons Finnegan and Elijah Farrah.

Marian Goodell

Founding Board Member

As Director of Business and Communications for Black Rock City, LLC, Ms. Goodell oversees year-round public and on-site media relations, print production, and writing of a 100,000+ member email newsletter, as well as management of accounting, legal, government relations and administrative processes. In 2003 she added oversight of the events pre- and post-production team, known as the DPW, or Department of Public Works. Her supervision of technology infrastructure for the organization has included an internal extranet, several thousand page web site, multiple blogs, and moderated participant-submitted image gallery. Ms. Goodell is also actively involved with the Burning Man Regional Network that she developed in 1997. Individuals worldwide who are identified as representatives are committed to supporting local communities, inspiring civic participation, and engaging people through Burning Man’s ethics and values. As of 2010, this network included over 160 individuals in 125 locations worldwide. Ms. Goodell is a founding board member of the Black Rock Arts Foundation, and currently sits on its Advisory Board. She is also a founding board member of Black Rock Solar and currently sits as its President.

Ms. Goodell holds a BA in Creative Writing from Goucher College in Baltimore and an MFA in photography from the Academy of Art University in San Francisco. Before arriving at Burning Man in 1995, she worked in sales and public relations, and as a project manager for a software development firm. Other interests include traveling abroad, honing her motorcycling skills, and
 volunteering.

Terry Gross

Terry has engaged in significant complex litigation on behalf of private clients and civil liberties organizations for over 25 years. He has been named a Northern California Super Lawyer from that recognitions inception. He has an extensive focus on the changing face of copyright, trademark and media law in the digital age and in matters of intellectual property. As General Counsel to Burning Man, the internationally known arts festival, he has negotiated, advised and litigated numerous trademark, copyright and privacy matters on its behalf, including a successful defense of a lawsuit challenging the events major trademarks. Terry also represents authors, artists, performers and their agents in negotiating contracts for publication, performance, and sale of motion picture and television rights.

Larry Harvey

Founding Board Member

Larry Harvey is the Founder and Executive Director of the Burning Man project and Chairman of the Board of the Black Rock Arts Foundation. He co-chairs Burning Man’s Art Department, scripts and co-curates the annual art theme, and collaborates with artists in creating aspects of the art theme and the design of Black Rock City. Larry is also a political planner. He supervises the organization’s lobbying efforts and regularly attends meetings with state, county and federal agencies. As a spokesperson for Burning Man, Larry is frequently interviewed and has lectured at Harvard, the Commonwealth Club of California, the Walker Art Center, and the Oxford Union.

Mercedes Martinez

Mercedes Martinez followed a career as a teacher and performer with work in film production. She has combined the most challenging aspects of all three in her latest vocation, parenting. She is married to Chris Weitz.

Michael Mikel

Founding Board Member

An avid futurist with an interest in technology and social communities, he joined Burning Man in 1988 and initialized much of Burning Man’s progress over the years. In 1992 he drove the first art car to Burning Man, founded the Black Rock Rangers, and edited the first on-site newspaper. In 1995, he developed the logo design which has become the symbol of the Burning Man community. In 1997, he launched containerized storage and transport for the Burning Man festival with the acquisition of the first shipping container. In 2001 he visited regional communities across the US during his Tour of America as an ambassador for Burning Man. In 2008, he managed the development of Burning Man’s presence in the virtual world of Second Life.

He has also been involved with many San Francisco social, cultural and technology institutions. He was a founding member of the Cacophony Society and also a crew member of the machine performance group; Survival Research Labs. During the 1970′s his Silicon Valley career began in the early days of the personal computer as an electro-mechanical systems engineer for Fairchild Semiconductor. During the early 1980s he was a consultant to Caltrans doing research on intelligent freeway systems in Los Angeles. Branching into automated systems in the mid-1980s, he developed the first robotic assembly line for Apple Computer’s Fremont plant in 1986. In 1988 he was a co-founder of Jasmine Technology, the first technology company to be located within San Francisco. As a content contributor and social catalyst, he was influential to many local startups, including Wired, Laughing Squid, Boing Boing and the Internet Archive.

He has contributed printed and written material to the Cacophony Society archive in the San Francisco Main Library, and also to the Burning Man archive in the Bancroft Library in Berkeley. Within the Burning Man community, he is best known by his playa persona: Danger Ranger.

Kay Morrison

For well over a decade Kay Morrison has been honing her skills in nonprofit and for profit community business development. She has worked for: the Seattle affiliate and the National office of NPower, a nonprofit organization that brings information technology services to nonprofits; Static Factory, a for profit artist support business; Shunpike, a nonprofit fiscal sponsorship organization for small to mid range nonprofits, Currently she works at Stopsky’s Delicatessen, a community focused Jewish Delicatessen just outside of Seattle. In 2005 she helped found Ignition Northwest, a 501c3 organization whose mission is to foster radical self-expression, participatory art, and the creation of positive social change in the Pacific Northwest, and has just been reelected to her third term on the board. When not helping start or maintain businesses Kay enjoys blacksmithing and metal working, singing jazz, taking Blaze the fluffy dog for walks and cooking. Kay also has been developing Burning Man regional work for 8 years and is currently a regional contact for Seattle.

Jennifer Raiser

Jennifer Raiser is Treasurer of the Burning Man Project, and serves on the Senior Executive Committee. She works with Burning Man Project on donations, grants, and new ventures. Jennifer is also a journalist, covering the people and places of San Francisco for her website, SFWire, the San Francisco Chronicle, and Huffington Post. She is the author of the upcoming coffee table book, Burning Man: Art on Fire, published by Race Point Press in 2014. Jennifer also works with her family business on strategic planning and commercial real estate investment.

Previously, Jennifer was CEO of Raiser Senior Services, a full-service provider of luxury retirement in the Bay Area, combining health care, dining, and long-term care. She is the co-author of Designing Retirement Communities for the Future, John Wiley and Sons. Her previous experience includes marketing with Procter and Gamble and BBDO/Omnicom Advertising, and management consulting with Fortune 500 corporations.

A longtime community volunteer, Jennifer has served as a Director of the Silicon Valley Community Foundation, the Peninsula Community Foundation, the Junior Statesmen Foundation, Community Gatepath, and the Coyote Point Museum. She serves on the Advisory Council of The Black Rock Arts Foundation, The Crucible, and the Marin Agricultural Land Trust. Jennifer received a BA in English Literature and MBA from Harvard University. She lives in San Francisco with her husband, a retired English professor, two children, and three flat-coated retrievers. Known on the Playa as CocoCabana, she is a Black Rock Ranger and eight-time Burner who camps in her eponymous leopard-upholstered vintage Airstream.

Rae Richman

Rae is a senior philanthropic leader with more than fifteen years experience providing strategic consulting to organizations of all sizes, including family and corporate foundations, leading nonprofits and a wide range of Fortune 500 global corporations.
Currently the Director of the Bay Area office of Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisors (RPA), her funding expertise includes climate change and environmental protection, education, and social entrepreneurship. She has also been actively involved in RPA s leadership on the issue of impact investing.

Rae is formerly a consultant with expertise in corporate social responsibility, meeting facilitation and organizational development. In this role, she worked with corporations and nonprofits to develop and lead projects, meetings and retreats to ensure maximum goal achievement, productivity and creativity.

Prior to starting her own consultancy for values-based organizations, she was Senior Manager of Consulting Services at Business for Social Responsibility (BSR), working with Fortune 500 companies to facilitate their stakeholder engagement efforts, assist them in implementing more socially responsible policies and practices, and provide counsel on issues of global corporate community engagement. Rae brings to her work a decade of marketing and production experience at entertainment, multimedia and high-tech companies.

She received her BA from the University of Virginia and her MBA from the UC Berkeley/Columbia University Executive MBA program. Rae serves as a Board Member and Officer of the Black Rock Arts Foundation.

Will Roger

Founding Board Member

Will Roger Peterson is from Rochester, New York, where he received a BFA and MFA from the Rochester Institute of Technology. Will later taught photography at the same institution, and as a teacher he attracted a group of devoted students.

The title of his course, “In Search Of the Mystical Image,” expresses the character of his work. Will is working with Nevada Relations and Properties for Black Rock City LLC. He is currently the President of Friends of the Black Rock/High Rock, is an appointee to the Sierra Front/Western Great Basin Resource Advisory Council (RAC) representing dispersed recreation, and is the chairman of the RAC subcommittee for the Black Rock/High Rock/Emigrant Trails National Conservation Area.

Crimson Rose

Founding Board Member

Crimsonʼs honor and love of fire happened long before she met the Burning Man. When she attended her first event in 1991, she set the man on fire and has been producing the release of the Man ever since.

The sculpture of the Burning Man brought her to the Black Rock Desert, but it is the limitless possibilities of facilitating art in the desert that brings her back year after year. Like a gift to a wide-eyed child, pushing the limits of creating art in one of the harshest, relentless environments produces amazing art and in turn facilitates interactivity. She is fascinated with the way interactivity and art mesh at Burning Man, and feels it has changed the art arena. “When art provokes one to interact without thinking, art has taken a giant leap in evolution.”

As one of the founding Directors of both Black Rock City LLC and the Black Rock Arts Foundation her focus as Art Curator and Creative Director of the Fire Conclave, the largest gathering of fire performers in one place at one time in the world. Prior to finding her way into this tailor-made position, Crimson has always been involved in the arts. In school, she majored in theater, and has worked as a fine art model, fire dancer and performance artist for 27 years.

Leo Villareal

Leo Villarealʻs light sculpture and installations have been presented at museums in the United States and around the world.In 2010, the San Jose Museum presented a traveling survey exhibition and monograph of the artist’s work. Villareal has created many large scale, site-specific installations with renowned architects such as Skidmore, Owings & Merrill and in architecturally significant buildings like I. M. Peis East Building of the National Gallery of Art, Washington DC. Villarealʼs work is part of the permanent collection of major museums, including the Museum of Modern Art, New York and the Albright Knox Art Gallery in Buffalo. He has been commissioned by both Federal and State agencies to create public works for such sites as a courthouse in El Paso, Texas and a New York Citysubway station.Villareal attended Yale University where he studied installation sculpture and went on to receive his Masters Degree from the Interactive Telecommunications Program (ITP) at New York University. From 1994-1996 Villareal served as a member of the research staff at Interval Research, a private think tank in Palo Alto, CA founded by Paul Allen. Villareal has attended the Burning Man festival every year since 1994 and is a founder of Disorient. He currently lives in New York with his wife, Yvonne Force Villareal and their two children, Cuatro and Lux.

David B. Walker

Born in Santa Monica, California, David joined the Nevada Museum of Art as Executive Director and CEO in 2007. In addition to establishing a vision and strategic plan for the Museum, he launched the Museum s Center for Art + Environment, an internationally-recognized research initiative. Prior, he served 11 years as the Dean of Public Programs at the Art Center College of Design in Pasadena, California where he successfully created the school of Public Programs and provided the vision and leadership for the Collegeʼs 100,000 square-foot South Campus. During this time, he founded The Design High School, a public charter school that employs design-based learning across the curriculum. David also served as Director and Founding Partner of the Walker and Walker Gallery in Santa Monica from 1989 to 1992 where he represented more than 20 artists, established the curatorial tone and oversaw construction of the new exhibition space. His background also includes serving as an associate with McBain, Rose Partners, an investment banking firm specializing in leveraged buyouts, and was editor and publisher for Element magazine, an internationally-distributed arts quarterly. Along with his wife, a drummer, he formed two original rock bands that signed deals with Warner Bros. Music and Chrysalis Music. David received a bachelors degree from Humboldt State University and did his graduate work at the Otis Art Institute of Parsons School of Design.

Chris Weitz

Chris Weitz is a filmmaker, husband, father, and former head concierge of the Grand Hotel at Ashram Galactica. He began his filmmaking career with the 1998 animated film Antz. In 1999, he produced American Pie, which became a major box office success, and was later followed by About a Boy and The Golden Compass.