Guest Speaker Series of Local High School Graduates Hosted by SIR

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(Courtesy of Wallace Kratter)
Fall speaker, Tia Wallace Kratter, who might speak in-person instead of Zoom, will share a behind-the-scenes glimpse of how great animated films are created. Kratter was one of the first employees at Pixar.

    When Bill Wadsworth began putting together a speaker series for the Sons in Retirement (SIR), Lamorinda Branch 174, he didn’t realize a theme, which he now calls, “Local High School Grads Make Good in the World,” would evolve.
    Given that he’s part of the SIR committee that arranges speakers, he immediately thought of Nicolle Devenish Wallace, a nationally known political analyst and anchor of MSNBC news and politics program, Deadline: White House.
    “I had been thinking of Nicolle Wallace because she graduated from Miramonte near the time my two sons were there,” said Wadsworth. “I located her speaking representative on the Internet and sent in a request for a pro-bono Zoom presentation via their online form.”
    A few days later and to his surprise, she said yes.
    Wallace spoke on June 9 about what she called “News of the day, politics and covering politics and a White House after working in politics and a White House.”
    Whenever she gives talks, Wallace hopes attendees are blunt and honest with their interaction with her.
    “I usually take more away from the viewers than they take away from me,” said Wallace, who was born and raised in Orinda and graduated from Miramonte in 1990.
    SIR’s Aug. 11 speaker is Tia Wallace Kratter, who, hopefully, will be in person by then.
    Kratter is a 1975 Campolindo High School graduate. She’s also an accomplished artist and one of the first employees at Pixar where she was a Shader Art Director for 20 years, working on such films as Monster’s Inc., A Bugs Life and many more.
    She will share a behind-the-scenes glimpse of how great animated films are created.
    Currently a Visual Development Artist for Disney, Kratter was born on the Island of Kwajalein (far out in the Pacific) and raised in Orinda.
    She spoke about her part in the creative process.
    “A visual development artist works with the art team to help create the look and feel of a particular film,” she said. “It can take a year or two or three to come up with the visual language for an animated film, but this is truly the fun part of working on a project. One gets to research, explore and create a whole new world.”
    She hopes attendees will have a greater appreciation of films after her talk.
    “I’ll want them to get a deeper insight into what it takes to make memorable, heartfelt and lasting films – ones that your grandchildren are probably watching incessantly!” she said. “As much as I’d like to say it’s the great art that makes the movie, it’s really the story that is paramount to creating truly memorable films.”
    Creating a theme of local high school graduates making good in the world, was not what Wadsworth planned, but he’s happy it turned out that way.
    “I think it’s important to hear these stories because Lamorinda is home to most of our SIR members and many have children and grandchildren in the area that they influence,” said Wadsworth. “I also believe that the foundation of our community will be stronger if we each remind ourselves that it does ‘take a village.’ And just because those of us in SIR are in our 70s or older, we still have a responsibility to work to ensure that our youth are effectively educated and gain the tools to make a significant difference through their work.”
    Their first speaker in April was Sara Lamson Nathan, an Acalanes High School graduate and currently CEO and President of Amigos de Las Americas, an international non-profit that empowers youth to become lifelong leaders who share responsibility for global community.
    SIR is a nonprofit, public benefit organization with a mission to improve the lives of its members through fun activities, events and making new friendships. It is open to retired or semi-retired men, regardless of age, race, color or religion. 
    SIR has roughly 13,000 members within 120 branches; local branch 174 has about 125 members. Wadsworth said he joined in 2015 “primarily to have a group to play golf with a couple of times a month.”
    While speaker events are only open to SIR members and their guests, anyone interested may contact Wadsworth directly at wadsy1@aol.com to get the link to a recording of any presentation.
    For more information about SIR, visit www.branch174.sirinc2.org.

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