By Ron Reuther and Mike Diggles
The Northern California chapter of the Explorers Club was started by Charles Elkus, an attorney in San Francisco and a North American Indian specialist, and by Joseph Rychetnik, a journalist and former Alaska State trooper who had just returned to the S.F. Bay Area. Charlie Elkus became the first chapter Chair, and the first regular meeting was held on Feb. 12, 1973 at the St. Francis Yacht Club in San Francisco. Richard Finnie was the first Vice-Chair, Joe Rychetnik became the first Secretary and Program Chair, and Dick Fullerton became the first Treasurer.
Richard Finnie became Chair upon the death of Charlie Elkus in 1978. Finnie was an explorer of the Canadian Northern Territories, and author and historian for the Bechtel Corporation. He served as Chair until 1984.
Carlton Skinner, former Governor-General of Guam and an authority on the Pacific Ocean Islands, succeeded Finnie as Chair, and served for five years..
Ronald Reuther succeeded Skinner as Chair in December, 1989. He is a former President of the American Association of Zoological Parks and Aquariums, a Zoologist, and an aviator.
Robert Schmieder took over from Reuther in 1995 after serving as Vice Chair. He has carried the Club flag on five different expeditions, and has published several books about his explorations.
William Isherwood was elected to succeed Schmieder in 1998 after serving as Vice Chair. Bill is a scientist at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory where he has instituted a new program "Sustainable Energy for the Arctic." His efforts have focused on how local renewable resources might reduce energy expenditures and environmental damage, and increase local jobs and self-reliance. He was a US delegate at the first meeting of the newly formed Arctic Council. The eight Arctic nations comprise this Council (can you name them?). Because of his interest in sustainable and renewable energy for this area, the Alaskan Congressional Delegation has urged Bill and his colleagues to put together a proposal for carrying out a major energy project for the benefit of rural Alaskan villages. He is now working on this project in conjunction with the University of Alaska, Fairbanks.
Lesley Ewing became the 7th Chapter Chair in 2001. She is a coastal engineer and has traveled through much of the US examining coastal dynamics and the major components that stabilize or modify shorelines. Her interest in the Explorers Club developed out of her work with Sylvia Earle and Graham Hawkes building Deep Flight -- two one-person submersibles that will give researchers and scientists access to vast areas of the ocean. In 2003, she pursues watery fame as she trains to qualify as a pilot of Deep Flight.
Stephen Smith took the reins in 2003. He is the Managing Director of Oceanearth, Inc. a U.S. 501(c)(3) non-profit organization that has supported research for the preservation of maritime-related natural and cultural resources since 1996. As a professional dive instructor, he serves as the Dive Safety Officer for Saint Mary’s College of Moraga, CA. In this capacity, he trains students in Scientific Diving procedures for maritime archaeological research projects and field schools. Smith has both participated in and led Flag Expeditions. He is currently a consultant providing analytics, modeling, and simulation support to the energy industry.
Lee Langan took the reins in 2005 and served as Vice Chair and Secretary previously as well as Chapter Newsletter Editor since. Lee's exploration experience covers a triad of activities: in the field of geomagnetics, in developing new technologies for measuring air quality over broad regions and in bringing geophysical methods to field archaeology. Lee is on the Board of Directors of The Explorers Club. He takes hecka good photographs.
Alan H. Nichols became Chair in 2009. FN-84, B.A., J.D., Stanford University, Doctor of Science, California College. Attorney. Married to Becky. Three children, Sharon. Alan and Shan. Decorated Korean War Veteran. Author of many books and articles on law, Sacred Mountains, The Silk Web, and Religions. Tibetologist. First person to bicycle the Silk Web, Six Explorers Club Flag Expeditions. Active with local chapter. Many lectures, movies, and pictures on expeditions. Former President, San Francisco Unified School District and City College of San Francisco; author of articles, plays, poetry, and books including: To Climb A Sacred Mountain, Adventures in Time, A Gift to the Master, Water for California (2 volumes), Travels with Annie, and The San Francisco Commuter. In March 2012, Alan became President of The Explorers Club.
Anders Jepsen became chair in 2011. He had been Treasurer for several years then VP. As a young man he performed seven years of geological mapping and gold exploration in the Canadian Northwest Territories. He was in the field to study the emission of pollutant gases from active volcanoes and directed a multi-year part of the Maryland Power Plant Siting Program to provide ground-truth data for air pollution control models. Anders has been a founder or co-founder of five high-tech companies, has also explored for minerals in the Argentine Andes and in Northern Labrador, and he is now very active in the development of solar energy technology.
CAPT. Rick Saber succeeded Jepsen as Chairman in 2013 after serving as Vice-Chair. Retired United Airlines Captain and former Naval Aviator, he has made numerous ascents in the U.S and in the Himalayas where he led two expeditions. He helped pioneer and implement two Siberian flight routes to Asia for the airlines working with the FAA to save fuel, cut emissions and insure schedule reliability in winter months. He has interest in reef ecology and environmental solutions to undersea plastics pollution, has made over 1,000 dives worldwide, many in assessment of these problems. The USCG-Aux and E Clampus Vitus have captured his attention as well where he held top leadership posts including re-enactor for the character Emperor Joshua A. Norton.
Joan N. Boothe succeeded Saber as Chair in 2015 after serving as Vice-Chair. Joan is considered an expert on Antarctic history and has been interviewed on NPR, taught a course in the Stanford University Continuing Studies program, guest lectured on Antarctic tour ships and spoken on the Antarctic for a variety of venues. She remembers reading her first story of icy adventure in the Antarctic when she was 8. Today she has built one of the most comprehensive private collections of books on Antarctica in the United States, containing more than 1,800 individual titles, along with thousands of journal articles. Joan has now traveled to the Antarctic 12 times, including making a 67-day circumnavigation of the Antarctic continent aboard an icebreaker. She is the author of the critically acclaimed book The Storied Ice: Exploration, Discovery, and Adventure in Antarctica's Peninsula Region. A graduate of Wellesley College, Joan was elected to Phi Beta Kappa with an honors degree in Economics. She further received an MBA in Finance from the University of California, Berkeley, and has also pursued doctoral studies in organizational behavior at U.C. Berkeley.
Stephen E. Smith previously served as Vice Chair from 2001 through 2002, Chair from 2003 through 2005, Secretary from 2005 through 2012, and Vice Chair from 2015 to 2017. He is the Managing Director of Oceanearth, Inc. a U.S. 501(c)(3) non-profit organization that has supported research for the preservation of maritime-related natural and cultural resources since 1996. As a professional dive instructor, he serves as the Dive Safety Officer for Saint Mary’s College of Moraga, CA. In this capacity, he trains students in Scientific Diving procedures for maritime archaeological research projects and field schools. Smith has both participated in and led Flag Expeditions. He is currently a consultant providing analytics, modeling, and simulation support to the energy industry.
All Current Cadre View the current list of the fine folks who are bringing us the organization and events that make up the Northern California Chapter; this page gives contact information and bios: Read about the Chapter Officers