The Visionaries 3

San Diego is America’s finest city for a tapestry of reasons including its incomparable beauty and close-to-constant blue skies. But what truly makes San Diego fine are the countless visionaries who live in the jewel of La Jolla. Indeed, La Jolla is home to a host of incredible people including benevolent philanthropists, writers, physicians and authors. Clearly, these visionaries make La Jolla the finest community within the finest city.

Here, we present four visionaries with platinum status…

In Memoriam of Conrad T. Prebys by Jenny Werth

Conrad T. Prebys epitomizes generosity. It’s that simple and that incredulous. A man of humble beginnings; this visionary became one of the most influential philanthropists to shine in the jewel of La Jolla. This is a man whose great kindness is felt through the hands of doctors who care for patients inside the Scripps Health for the Prebys Cardiovascular Institute; sensed inside the heart through the music at the Salk’s symphony and will soon be visualized in the La Jolla Music Society’s The Conrad Prebys Performing Arts Center. The impact of Prebys’ philanthropy is a literal lifeline for countless people every single day. Prebys has gifted capital and operating gifts to a plethora of grateful San Diego establishments; last year he notably donated $100 million to the Sanford-Burnham Medical Research Institute. In totality, we find La Jolla forever changed from Prebys’ incredible donations to our community.

Francoise Gilot-Salk by Aurélia Engel

French-born Françoise Gilot-Salk is a highly regarded international artist exhibited in the major art centers of Europe, North America, and Japan. A bridge between the School of Paris and the contemporary American art scene, her creativity took a sharp turn when she married Dr. Jonas Salk (credited for discovering the Polio vaccination) in 1970 and moved to La Jolla. The bright San Diego light took her from nuanced in-Pasto to flat surfaces of bold colors, while the Californian dynamism and majestic nature set her creations in motions- even landscapes seemed to be dancing. Her works are featured in the permanent collections of numerous museums including  the Metropolitan Museum, New York and the Centre Pompidou, Paris. Naturally, the talented Gilot has not slowed down since celebrating her 90th birthday in 2011. After Acatos published FRANÇOISE GILOT OEUVRES WORKS 1985-2010 in 2011-12 alone, she’s exhibited at the Gagosian Gallery, New York, the Kunstsammlungen Chemnitz Museum, Germany and the Oceanside Museum among others. Gilot was commissioned by the American Ballet Theatre to create the backdrop for Marcello Gomez’ AfterEffect, performed in 2015 at the Met. Dedicated to helping the Salk Institute, Gilot is the Honorary Chair of Symphony at the Salk and gives the poster’s image every year. Gilot is also the author of several books including Life With Picasso, Interface: The Painter and the Mask, and Matisse and Picasso: A Friendship in Art. Last August, Gilot and co-author Lisa Althers signed their witty-moving book, About Women at the Colas Engel Fine Arts gallery that represents Gilot in North Park, San Diego.

Audrey Geisel by Jenny Werth

La Jolla resident Audrey Geisel is a visionary of colossal levels. The widow of La Jolla’s beloved Theodor “Dr. Seuss,” Geisel perseveres the worldwide fascination with Dr. Seuss’ books by keeping their unique spirit alive through ingenious advocacy.  With a discerning eye, Geisel has served as president of Dr. Seuss Enterprises and the Dr. Seuss Foundation for more than two decades making an incredible impact through her philanthropy in La Jolla and nationwide educational triumphs. Indeed, as one of the famous Dr. Seuss passages reads: “The more that you READ, the more things you will KNOW. The more that you LEARN, the more places you’ll GO.” One of La Jolla’s beloved community leaders, Geisel is the embodiment of devoted philanthropist, literacy advocate and business leader. As a longtime benefactor of UCSD with grace and generosity, she’s supported areas ranging from the UCSD Library, Scripps Institution of Oceanography and Health Sciences. Most recently, she donated $3 million toward the renovation of the University’s Geisel Library which kicked off a major initiative to transform and revitalize the interior public spaces of the iconic building. And in recognition of a major gift from Geisel in 1995, the Geisel Library was named in honor of Audrey and her late husband. Also notable was her donation to the UCSD Library of more than 10,000 of her late husband’s personal papers—including original drawings, sketches, manuscripts, books and other memorabilia. In 2013, Geisel also donated $2 million to the renovation of the UCSD University House. The historic structure and venue aptly renamed the “Audrey Geisel University House” is now used for campus celebrations and fundraising events. “Oh, The Places You’ll Go!” for Geisel include traveling through a myriad of advocacy causes- a constant theme in her life.

Natasha Josefowitz, Ph.D.

Natasha Josefowitz, Ph.D. is a La Jolla trailblazer. She took on what was once the male-dominated workplace for executives with her best-selling book Paths to Power: A Woman’s Guide From First Job To Top Executive (published in 1980) to guide women attempting to break into a high-powered career. It was the first book to help women enter male-dominated organizations—thus empowering an entire generation of women. Her book You’re The Boss: A Guide to Managing a Diverse Work Force with Understanding and Effectiveness helped companies deal with the increasing number of minorities comprising the workforce. Her books of humorous verse address the dilemmas of managing personal and professional lives. As one of the early feminists, Natasha was a pioneer speaking up for both gender and racial equality in her lectures as well as in her appearances as a regular guest on radio and television. Born in Paris of Russian immigrant parents, Natasha Josefowitz became a refugee herself when fleeing Paris just ahead of the German occupation; her family was in California when France fell and so they remained. Natasha went to Beverly Hills High School and then attended Scripps College. She married and lived in New York, worked at the Child Development Center, and raised two children. As a “late bloomer,” she earned a Master’s degree in social work at age 40 and a Ph.D. in psychology at 50. She lived in Switzerland for ten years where she taught at the University of Lausanne and worked as a therapist at a child guidance center. She returned to the United States where she taught the first course in the U.S. on women in management at the University of New Hampshire. She eventually moved back to California where she served on the faculty at SDSU Business School teaching in their MBA program. Now at the age of 90, she is helping the older generation better navigate their senior years through her newspaper columns and regular blogs with The Huffington Post. She continues to give lectures on her current research on grief, loss and healing, which is captured in her 20th book Living Without the One You Cannot Live Without. Natasha lives in the retirement community of White Sands La Jolla, where she serves on eight committees. She’s also on many other boards citywide.