MENLO PARK — Kepler’s Books in Menlo Park has announced the formation of Kepler’s Literary Foundation (KLF), a new, independent nonprofit organization dedicated to promoting Kepler’s position as the premier producer of literary and cultural programs in Silicon Valley. KLF was created as part of the community’s Kepler’s 2020 Project, whose goal is to reimagine Kepler’s and create a next-generation organization for producing events and community programs covering a wide range of literary, social, and cultural topics.
Executive director of the new nonprofit is Jean Forstner, formerly director of programming and operations for Kepler’s popular events programs. Forstner was a member of Kepler’s 2020 Transition Team and is a community leader with extensive experience working with schools and nonprofits, building community partnerships, and producing cultural and literary programs. Prior to joining Kepler’s, she was California State Director for U.S. Senator Alan Cranston. She is a graduate of Stanford University.
“We’re pleased to formally introduce Kepler’s Literary Foundation to the community,” said Forstner. “As an independent nonprofit literary arts organization, KLF will be positioned to fulfill its mission of engaging, enriching, and inspiring the community through the arts, culture, science, and literature.”
Praveen Madan, social entrepreneur and CEO of Kepler’s Books, will serve on KLF’s founding board with other local business and community supporters. The KLF board is chaired by Patrick Corman, a veteran Silicon Valley marketing and communications consultant, and includes Vice Chair Dan Gilbert, a technology entrepreneur and investor; Secretary and Treasurer Beth Morgan, entrepreneur and COO of Twine; and Anne Dimock, a creative writer and nonprofit executive.
Long considered Silicon Valley’s premier cultural hub, Kepler’s events program has expanded in recent years to include national political figures, such as Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor and Congressman Barney Frank; historians David McCullough and T.J. Stiles; scientists Richard Dawkins and Michio Kaku; authors Salman Rushdie, Amy Tan, George R.R. Martin, and Roxane Gay; and award-winning children’s authors, John Green, Katherine Applegate, and Rick Riordan. KLF events consistently attract engaged and enthusiastic audiences from across the Bay Area. In 2016, KLF organized 275 events with 25,000 total attendees.
In addition to its popular speaker series, KLF produces literary events in local schools, including those in the Ravenswood School District, which encompasses the seven Title I public schools serving East Palo Alto and the Belle Haven neighborhood in Menlo Park. Writers and artists meet with students to explore what inspires a person to write and discuss how to harness their own imaginations, encouraging kids to become avid readers and emboldening them to find their own voices through their writing. As part of each event, KLF donates books to the school. In three years, 6,500 students have participated, and 1,300 books have been donated.