This Father’s Day, we’re recognizing 10 local men who are notable not only for the work they do in their day jobs, but also for the role they play at home as devoted dads. From CEOs and nonprofit leaders to small business owners, these overachievers share their favorite memories of fatherhood and some helpful advice for fellow dads.
(Contributors are listed in alphabetical order.)
Founder and CEO, Play Marin
Longtime Marin City resident Paul Austin spent several years as the director of recreation for the Marin City Community Center before founding Play Marin in 2019. Austin’s mission for the nonprofit, which now serves 300 Marin County youth, is to bring kids of diverse ethnic and socioeconomic backgrounds together for organized athletic and extracurricular activities that will ultimately help them become more successful, socially aware adults. When it comes to his own kids, 17-year-old daughter Symil Austin and 12-year-old son Kiran Tate-Day, Austin strives to support their interests and help them achieve their goals. “I’m a product of a single-family home,” says Austin. “I want to do more for my kids. I want to provide them with avenues to be successful.” For Austin, that means finding ways to promote his daughter’s love of arts and theater and his son’s passion for sports by providing them with opportunities to participate in activities they enjoy and exposing them to experiences that reflect their interests. Most of all, it means spending quality time together, whether it’s on a family getaway or around the dinner table. “Being a father is super special to me,” says Austin. “I try to find time to support both kids where and when it’s needed. Being able to see my kids grow and become successful is so pleasing.”
Sigurd Berven, MD
Professor of Orthopedic Surgery, Chief of Spine Service, U.C. San Francisco
Orthopedic surgeon Sigurd Berven, MD, is a sought-after specialist in pediatric and adult spinal disorders, including deformities, degenerative conditions of the spine, spinal tumors and spinal trauma. While Berven’s demanding schedule has made it challenging to balance professional obligations with family time over the years, it’s also enabled him to build some unforgettable memories with sons Alistair (26), Christopher (24) and Benjamin (19). “Bringing family to conferences around the world has been commonplace, and combining family activities with work travel has created some terrific opportunities for time together,” he says. “We have been to South America for medical humanitarian projects, and combined time building schools with time in surgery. Sharing experiences with my children has been rewarding because it has provided useful insight for them into my work as a surgeon, and also allowed for treasured time together and adventures around the world.”
The active family enjoys spending time outdoors together biking around Marin County, paddleboarding, doing Dipsea runs, rafting, skiing and camping, but they appreciate their time at home together perhaps most of all. “My favorite memories center around time at home together sharing meals, playing ping pong and watching movies,” he says. Berven’s message to new dads: Becoming a father will enhance the rest of your life. “Know that there are aspects of your child’s experience and development that you can impact and change, and much that is beyond your influence or control,” he says. “Unconditional love and reliable support empowers children to find their place in the world beyond home.”
CEO, Marin Economic Forum
As CEO of the nonprofit Marin Economic Forum, based in San Rafael, Mike Blakeley works closely with local business leaders, elected officials and other nonprofits to continuously improve the county’s economic vitality while promoting social equity and protecting the environment. Despite his demanding schedule, he always finds ways to spend meaningful time connecting with his children — Cade (16) and Emma (13). This past year’s pandemic has been challenging for all, but Blakeley has found that the experience has brought his own family closer together in many ways. “In the beginning of Covid-19, we broke out into an impromptu dance party while cleaning up after dinner,” he recalls. “It was such a moment of levity and release in a stressful time. I don’t think we’ve ever all just danced together for no reason.” Blakeley’s family spends a lot of time in Tahoe, where he enjoys skiing, snowboarding and paddleboarding with his kids. Parenting isn’t always easy, Blakeley admits, though he’s learned how to adapt as his kids mature. “I’ve found the most challenging thing is letting go of your ambitions for your kids and all the helicopter-type antics that go with that and accepting and supporting their desire to eventually pursue a life they want,” he says. “It becomes easier as they grow older and start to develop as individuals, and as a parent you shift from ‘influencing’ to ‘supporting’ their growth. A good friend once told me, ‘keep ’em safe and get out of their way.’”
Dr. Jeff Boehm
CEO, the Marine Mammal Center
Jeff Boehm was once an intern at the Marine Mammal Center, an experience that made a lasting impression. Years later as CEO, he now leads a team of more than 100 staff members and 1,300 volunteers, and works to expand the organization’s mission to advance global ocean conservation through marine mammal rescue and rehabilitation, scientific research and education. As father to Ty (nearly 18) and Tamara (15) with his partner, Keith Rosenthal, Boehm finds it challenging to single out just one favorite memory of fatherhood. “I’ll share a few,” he says. “Epic road trips reaching north to British Columbia and south into the Southwest desert; dinner table conversations where the adults nobly try to find substantive and meaningful discussion and the effort virtually always collapses into ridiculous laughter; reading to both kids every night when they were really young.” Whatever the activity, it’s the one-on-one time spent talking to his kids that is particularly meaningful for Boehm. His best advice for new dads: “Stay in the moment, and don’t chase the milestones,” he says. “In the blink of an eye, ‘I can’t wait for her to walk!’ is followed by ‘she’s entering high school!?’”
Sports Anchor/Reporter, KPIX 5
“This job is everything I’ve wanted to do since the 10th grade,” says Vern Glenn, sports anchor and reporter at KPIX 5. Glenn has spent 30 years covering the Bay Area market, earning numerous fans and accolades along the way. He’s won the Northern California Area chapter of the Emmy Awards’ Outstanding Achievement Award in the Talent–Anchor or Reporter–Sports category four years running, and is a 2020 National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences Silver Circle honoree, recognizing 25-plus years in the same TV market.
Over the years, the longtime Mill Valley resident has shared his passion for sports with sons Zack (22), Jake (20) and Nicky (17), whether it’s watching a football game together, taking them to practice or cheering them on as they compete. He’s also passing along his love of cooking. “Last night Zack made a meal for the family; that’s never happened before,” says Glenn, laughing. “I feel like a torch has been passed.” He and his wife, Nicole, have always reinforced a sense of responsibility in their kids, and are proud of their sons’ accomplishments. “There’s no bible for parenting, no handbook,” Glenn says. “We don’t have all of the answers, but we do have the experience. We can only hope as they grow up and come to the crossroads of making a decision that they choose the right path. If they make mistakes and we can step in and be a net for them then fine, but they’re all maturing and figuring out what to do when the net isn’t there.”
Partner, 101 Surf Sports in San Rafael
101 Surf Sports in San Rafael has been a go-to for local water sport addicts since 2011, from windsurfers and kayakers to those discovering the joys of e-foiling above the surf at breakneck speeds. Partner Cort Larned is lucky enough to live above the shop. “The commute is awesome!” he says.
Larned, the father of three sons — Cortland, 25; Mac, 23; and Ian, 20 — has enjoyed fatherhood from the moment his kids were born. “It’s been the most rewarding aspect of being human: watching them discover life; watching them squeal with laughter over the simplest things; being there for them when they stumble; learning to be patient; learning to love them so deeply that you ache inside; and realizing not just how much I’ve learned about them, but also how much they’ve taught me about myself,” he says. Now that the kids are older, Larned and his sons enjoy cooking and skiing together and, finally, getting out on the water together. “I’m a waterman and didn’t push my kids to be watermen, but finally they’re starting to foil with me,” he says. Larned’s approach to parenting: “I’m supportive and honest,” he says. “I want them to be passionate about whatever path they chose.”
Cofounder and COO, Yardzen
It was a mutual love of the outdoors that led Adam Messner and his wife, Allison, to found Yardzen, a Sausalito-based online landscape design service, in 2018. “Pretty much all of our favorite family memories have taken place outside: learning to ride a bike, exploring our neighborhood creeks and swimming holes, watching outdoor movies on a warm summer night, planting and tending to our family garden,” he says. “Yardzen was designed to make it easier for people to experience these outdoor moments, which often happen in our yards.”
Fittingly, Messner’s kids both enjoy outdoor activities as well: 7-year-old Coco loves hiking and playing soccer, and 10-year-old Max plays multiple sports and “has the greenest thumb in the family,” says Messner. Some of the family’s favorite local spots to visit are Mt. Tam and Muir and Stinson beaches. As anyone with kids can appreciate, however, the Messners’ outdoor adventures don’t always go smoothly. “One of my early memories with the kids was camping at Olema when Coco was 1 and Max was 4,” he recalls. “Both kids woke up in the middle of the night and were inconsolable. It was a total disaster, but also one of our strongest memories. We made a list of all the things we needed to improve — warmer clothes and sleeping bags, more milk, an earlier bedtime — and now the kids beg to go camping. It’s our go-to every Father’s Day.”
Messner’s role model in fatherhood is his own father. “He coached several of my sports teams when I was a kid, but not to tell me what to do; rather just to be closer to me while I was doing something I was passionate about,” he says. “Having kids of my own now, I get that. I’ve learned that you can look to your kids to bring out the best in you, because in turn, you’ll bring out the best in them.”
Athlete and Media Personality
There’s no denying Jonny Moseley’s impressive legacy in the sport of freestyle skiing: He won a gold medal in the 1998 Olympics in Nagano, Japan; took home a silver medal at the X-Games in 1999; has won multiple World Cup titles; and was inducted into the U.S. Ski and Snowboard Hall of Fame in 2006, to name just a few of his achievements. These days the Tiburon resident is busy running plant-based snack food company IOTA Goods, which he founded five years ago with his wife, Malia, and a third partner; working on a Warren Miller Entertainment project at Squaw Valley; doing a podcast with local radio personality Sarah Clark; and raising money to support SEALKIDS, an organization dedicated to helping children in the Navy Seal community excel in school.
Even with so many commitments, Moseley still makes time to hit the slopes with his two sons — Jack (13) and Tommy (10). “They train and compete with the Big Mountain Team at Squaw, which I consider to be following in my footsteps, even though it’s a different event,” he says. “I think I might have chosen Big Mountain if it existed when I was their age.” As his kids get older, Moseley says his parenting style continues to evolve. “The most challenging part is keeping them safe while exposing them to risk,” he says. “The most rewarding part is seeing them successfully take on the responsibility themselves.” Most of all, Moseley enjoys spending time with his kids doing activities they all enjoy. “They love fishing, baseball and tinkering — all things I love to do — so fatherhood is working out pretty well for me!” he says. “When they’re grown, I don’t think I’ll look back on the peak moments as my favorites. I think the unremarkable days, like fishing or working on a project, will be my favorite memories.”
As an early hire at Yelp, Nish Nadaraja made a lasting impact during his tenure there, including founding the Yelp Elite Squad, before he left in 2010. Lately Nadaraja describes himself as a “semi-retired” brand consultant who works with startups and large companies alike. He’s also invested in several restaurants in the past few years. Like for so many others, this past “Covid year” has brought many life changes for Nadaraja. He launched an interview-style newsletter called “In Search of Lost Answers”, which he’s excited about; got remarried; and moved from San Francisco to San Anselmo with his new wife and 13-year-old son, Dash (short for Dashiell, named after Dashiell Hammett, author of The Maltese Falcon). “My son goes to school in Sausalito, so it was just that time to get over the bridge,” he says. “When we found out George Lucas lived in San Anselmo, I was sold.”
Parenting a teenage boy brings new experiences every day, says Nadaraja. “Right now, it’s a blast watching anime and Marvel shows with him, and I also enjoy the fact that he makes fun of me for trying to use the word ‘sus’ in everyday situations,” he says. “My favorite times are picking him up from school and forcing him to talk about his day, that bit of quiet and personal time can be revelatory. I also like destroying him and his friends in pickleball.” When it comes to sharing advice about fatherhood, Nadaraja keeps it simple: “Don’t get your kids cell phones until 8th grade, and truly put yours away when you’re at the dinner table. Also, don’t listen to half the advice you get from other parents!” Noted.
Managing Partner, Bungalow 44
Jason Sims, managing partner at Bungalow 44 in Mill Valley, has spent the last 25 years living in Marin County (he currently lives on a houseboat in Sausalito) and working in the hospitality industry. Sims also manages the beverage program at Buckeye Roadhouse, and knows the local restaurant scene inside and out. “I started as a busboy at the famous Alta Mira Hotel in Sausalito in the early ’90s,” he says. Once the owner of a bar in San Francisco’s North Beach, Sims sold it when his son, Will, was born in 2008 and started working in Marin again. Will is now 12 years old, and father and son enjoy swimming and hiking together. Will is also on the autism spectrum. “He is only semi-verbal, so the hardest part is knowing what he’s feeling and being able to help him with those feelings,” says Sims. “He’s very smart, but he learns differently because he experiences the world differently.” Despite the challenges, Sims is always looking for ways to open up Will’s world and expose him to new experiences. “My favorite memories are the times that Will tries something new and stressful, and he pushes through and ends up having a great time,” he says. “I know how hard it is for him, and when he does it, he’s so proud of himself, and I’m even prouder.” Sims’ personal outlook on fatherhood should serve as valuable insight to other fathers, as well. “Don’t be trapped by expectations or comparisons to other kids,” says Sims. “Be in the moment and learn to appreciate the little things. All of our kids have some magic in them.”
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Lotus Abrams has covered everything from beauty to business to tech in her editorial career, but it might be writing about her native Bay Area that inspires her most. She lives with her husband and two daughters in the San Francisco Peninsula, where they enjoy spending time outdoors at the area’s many open spaces protected and preserved by her favorite local nonprofit, the Peninsula Open Space Trust.