Woman of the Year: Marina/Pacific Height’s own Robyn Thomas


Source: zocalopublicspace.org

Source: zocalopublicspace.org

When Robyn Thomas is not climbing Mt. Kilimanjaro, the highest peak in Africa, or taking her two kids to Lake Tahoe skiing, she is being awarded “Woman of the Year” for her continued fight to prevent gun violence in the United States.

“I’ve always been immensely impressed by Robyn’s ability to successfully raise two great kids, passionately advocate for smart gun laws and run such an important non-profit,” said Rhonda Slavik, close friend to Thomas.

The 40-year-old executive director of the Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence in San Francisco was born in Johannesburg, South Africa, before moving to the United States at the age of six.

“I am a 4th generation South African, born and lived there until my parents immigrated to New Jersey,” said Robyn Thomas.

Thomas describes herself as having “dual hometowns”; first it was Johannesburg, then New Jersey, New York and now San Francisco, which she has called home for the past 12 years.

When asked why she made the move from the East Coast to the West Coast, Thomas said, “I was a lawyer in a big law firm in New York City, I was working too hard and not getting enough nature – I decided that I need to make a change and moved to San Francisco, partially for me because it’s the perfect combination of city and outdoors.”

Thomas received her undergraduate education at Duke University before receiving her law degree from the University of Miami, Fl. in 1999.

“[Law] was something that I knew was good fit for my natural skills, which include public speaking and writing, but I always believed in trying to make a difference – using your life and career to make the world somehow better,” said Thomas.

“[Thomas] can act strategically, flexing her attorney muscles when needed, yet always maintains a calm demeanor. Her ability to speak articulately on this complex issue is impressive,” said Cari Napoles, director of development at the Law Center.

Before making the move to social justice, Thomas worked with plaintiffs in class action lawsuits as a way to represent the consumers and average people against the powerful will of big corporations.

Thomas believes that her work now, at the Law Center, is the perfect medium for all her interests and skills, “It’s a nice combination of legal work and the intellectual aspects of law without having to spend so much time deeply immersed in the briefing,” said Thomas.

The Law Center’s work is mainly focused on the Second Amendment litigation and viewing and accessing the legislation from a very legal perspective.

Thomas’ field of work has become even more crucial and in-demand in the past few years due to the multiple mass shootings that have occurred throughout America. The mother-of-two believes that, for most people, gun violence seems really removed from their day-to-day lives unless they or their community is impacted.

“When it’s a movie theatre, a children’s classroom or a school, I think that people are able to relate to it because they can see that a movie theatre is somewhere they go or like me, they have a child in first grade,” said Thomas.

For Thomas, working in her position in social justice can be an unrelenting fight everyday, mostly without any immediate change or gratification, so when she is recognized for her daily feats, it brings her passion for her work into perspective.

“I think [Robyn being awarded Woman of the Year] is really an additional feel of support – the kind of work we’re doing here is not easy work and she has a national profile now and to know that she also has support in her local community really adds an extra kind of level of creditability,” said Law Center’s Director of Finance and Administration Ellen French, who has been working with Thomas for eight years.

The “Woman of the Year” award ceremony was held on Mar. 4 at City Hall and was presented on behalf of San Francisco’s Board of Supervisors during their weekly Tuesday meeting.

“I was so honored [when approached with the “Woman of the Year” award], I think part of it is because there aren’t a lot of woman in positions of power still in the world today – being recognized as a woman doing this was really powerful for me,” said Thomas.

Thomas, who is the third female executive director in the history of the Law Center, believes that a woman’s intuition and empathetic qualities shines a whole new light in a profession as prominent as social justice.

“As women gain more positions of power across the board, hopefully it will lead to a kinder and gentler world on every level,” said Thomas.

In between her appearances on MSNBC to discuss gun violence after tragedies like the shooting in Newtown, Conn. and traveling to Washington to speak to political representatives, Thomas enjoys her morning runs along the bay near her home in Pacific Heights.

“I travel quite a bit and not just for work but personal. I love traveling to really obscure destinations and I’m actually planning to climb Aconcagua [the highest peak] in South America,” Thomas said.

While traveling to these “obscure” locations, Thomas likes to collect and bring back sand from all the 50 countries she has traveled to date.

“We share a lot in common as non-profit professionals and mothers of young children. Our daughters are the same age actually, so we connect on many levels. Robyn’s skill set as a professional, as a mother, and a friend is remarkable,” said Napoles.

These days, most of the activist’s interests revolve around her 7-year-old daughter and 4-year-old son.

“[I like] getting my kids outdoors because we live in the city, so we do a lot of road trips on the weekends, whether it’s up to Sonoma or to the beach in Santa Cruz,” said Thomas.

Thomas also enjoys reading, both professionally and leisurely, and has been said to be a great cook by her friends and colleagues. “[Robyn’s] a fantastic hostess and often spontaneously invites friends over for a great meal she’s cooked,” said Slavik.


American Cupcake; It’s Not Just Cupcakes


As a bonding event with my Fashion Network Association group at San Francisco State University, we all decided to hit the town for a good old fashioned girls sunday Brunch! And of course being a journalist of the Marina District (and a lover of Marina eateries) I was so excited when I found out that we would be bonding over delectable red velvet cupcakes and tantalizing mimosas at American Cupcake at 1919 Union St., San Francisco, Calif.



My first thought once walking into this carnival/wonderland-esque atmosphere was that there was a lot more in-store for my fashionable friends and I than some delicious (calorie-filled) cupcakes. The menu is filled with the basic Brunch items but adds an American Cupcake twist, like their ‘Mac ‘N Cheese Pancakes’ or ‘Red Velvet Fried Chicken and Waffles’. As much as I would love to have taken the irresistible risk and ordered the ‘S’mores Pancakes’, I decided to play on the safe side and order their ‘Huevos Rancheros’, which was vegetarian and EXQUISITE.

In the end, if you are interested in a new Brunch hotspot after your Sunday morning spin class or just a night-out to have drinks with the girls (yes, they have a full bar with cocktails as unique as their entrees), American Cupcake is the place for you! And if you’re one of those people with a major sweet-tooth, stop by for their ‘Potato-Chip Cupcake’ or just play it safe with the house favorite ‘Red Velvet Cupcake’.


Photos courtesy of: Brigitte from modenextdoor.blogspot.com.

People on the Streets of Marina

A good meal can change a person’s life. In the case of residents and local visitors of the Marina District, a good meal is likely to happen at almost each restaurant bordering the district. Two women, one a owner of American Cupcake (amazing! review coming soon) and the other of Lush Cosmetics, both located on Union Street, shared their favorite (and best) meals they have experienced in the district by the bay. IMG_2616

Holly Nichols, 24, Owner of American Cupcake


Monique Ferguoso, 24, Associate at Lush Cosmetics


Let’s take a walk around the Marina: Cafes Along the Bay

Screen shot 2014-03-18 at 12.18.14 PM


“Third Places” among the Marina


The George R. Moscone Recreation Center on a sunny Saturday afternoon.


Families and locals enjoy the park and amenities at the recreation center on a sunny Saturday.



Marina locals visit the Marina Public Library to get all their business and study-related tasks done.


A local resident runs in to the public library to drop-off a rental book.



Patrons on Chestnut Street leisurely go in and out of local shops in the Marina District.


The Peet’s Coffee & Tea on Chestnut hosts a multitude of customers on this Saturday.




Marina’s Third Home

The aroma of freshly grounded coffee beans infuse the air as you open the glass door into the Peet’s Coffee & Tea located at 2080 Chestnut St., in the heart of the Marina District. The dress code for the Chestnut Street location on this unusually sunny Saturday consists of Lululemon yoga pants and polished Nike Free Runs.

“This is my go-to place after my jog around the Marina Green and Fort Mason compound,” said 24-year-old Marina resident Shanice Marie.

The crowd of 20-something professionals and work-out enthusiasts order their mocha’s with soy milk but make sure to make-up for the saved calories with a fresh out-of-the-oven almond butter croissant.

The San Francisco/Bay Area based coffee chain has 600 locations around the U.S. and 25 of them located in the Fog City. This specific location is home to San Francisco natives and new residents working on their english essays, writing up a brief for a case due Monday morning or just catching-up with an old friend over chai lattes.

The modernistic coffee shop doubles as an office-space for the city’s nine-to-fivers and emerging upper class. The coffee shop’s latest remodel came equipped with wooden tables and stainless steel chairs, giving an edgy yet traditional vibe for regulars and one-time visitors popping in for an afternoon latte.

What differentiates this Peet’s location from the others in the Bay Area is the generous lounge/work space open to patrons.

“[The] recent remodel is both stunning to look at and extremely functional for both a work and leisure environment,” said Peet’s patron and San Francisco State University student Chuck Gee.

Another unique quirk that regulars at the establishment enjoy, is the custom foam design that comes with most of Peet’s hand-crafted espresso beverages, helping distinguish it from competitors like Starbucks and Caribou.

The brewery’s crowd level fluctuates as often as the weather in the Bay; large clusters of tourists and Marina residents  bustle in with a caffeine deficiency and leave the “third-place” with an emergence of energy.

One regular and Peet’s enthusiast, recent USF graduate James Zhu describes this location as “magical”. “If not for Peet’s, I wouldn’t have made it through graduate school in one piece,” said Zhu.

Among the horde of regulars and long-time Peet’s consumers, the occasional rookie comes in for their first carmel latte macchiato or at least the first one at the Chestnut location and is fully emerged into the savory experience.

“This is my first time at [the Chestnut location], I’ve never been to a location as nice as this one, the coffee even tastes richer,” said Mitra Ghassemi, first-timer and accountant in San Francisco’s Financial District.

So while being part of multi-billon dollar chain, the Peet’s Coffee & Tea on the bustling Chestnut Street seems to have found it’s niche and a way to stand out against the multiple corner coffee shops that brim the Marina District.

Discovering the Pacific Catch


This past weekend, the infamous San Francisco fog submerged and made the few days off filled with sun and clear skies. So in order to fully bask in the miracle that was this weekend, I hit up my favorite neighborhood (the Marina..duh) and decided to broaden my horizons and try a new cuisine! I stumbled upon the Pacific Catch, which is located right next to my favorite Marina hotspot, Tacolicious.

The fresh fish grill is a quaint eatery located on Chestnut Street, next to another major restaurant, Circa.

The sit-down restaurant is known for it’s unique Mexican-Seafood-Gluten-Free entrees and appetizers. So as an avid taco/fish/gluten-free lover, you could call this place my haven.


After scouring through the menu, I decided on the Hawaiian Teriyaki pan-asian rice bowl with grilled salmon. The entree came very quickly and I’m so happy that it did because it was so delicious and nutritious that it was almost too good to be true.

The service, along with the atmosphere was superb.

I will definitely be visiting this restaurant again and bringing everyone I know with me!

Eyebrow Raising Experience


In between exploring and reporting the Marina district, a girl has got to pamper herself, so I did just that at Benefit Cosmetics located at 2219 Chestnut St. I’ve always been an avid lover of Benefit Cosmetics and I own a few of their products but I have never experienced their infamous Brow Bar that almost all of my friends rave about.

So on Saturday, Jan. 15, I decided to pop into the cute and quaint beauty shop located in the heart of Chestnut Street and give my eyebrows some love. As soon as you walk into the shop, you automatically feel prettier or that things are about to get polished. Benefit Cosmetics was originated in San Francisco by two Indiana farm twins, Jane and Jean Ford, who moved to San Francisco to explore another side to beauty.

After signing into the walk-in list that was filled with San Franciscan women who have made this place their eyebrow haven, some appointments made months in advance, I waited till it was my turn to experience the eyebrow transformation. After the fastest 15 minutes wait of my life, I got my eyebrows threaded and plucked (you have an option to wax as well) by Suzette and I came into the bustling Chestnut Street with a new eyebrow-confidence that was well worth the $23. In the end, it would be a major understatement to say that I will definitely be visiting the Brow Bar at Benefit Cosmetics every time my eyebrows need to be tamed. If you’re interested in a eyebrow or beauty makeover you can call your closest Benefit Cosmetic store to make an appointment or just walk-in like I did! 

Benefit Cosmetics 
Chestnut Boutique

2219 Chestnut Street
San Francisco, CA 94123
United States

(415) 567-1173