Who Is Sylvia?
It depends on the context ...
If you ask Fast Company, she is a Silicon Valley Public Relations icon.
If you ask Marylene Delbourg-Delphis, founder of Acius, the company that launched the world’s first relational database, “She dislikes imposters.”
If you ask Scott Rosenberg, founder of Salon.com, author, and Axios technology editor, “She is a great connector of people and ideas.”
If you ask J Weekly, she is a rabble-rouser and PR innovator.
Her clients have ranged from high-tech startups to nonprofits, authors, academics, a medical boutique, and even a law firm. As marketing director for Software Ventures, founded by William Randolph Hearst III, and board member of BMUG, the world’s largest computer user group, she connected with many computer luminaries, including Bill Gates, Steve Jobs, Guy Kawasaki, Esther Dyson, Brewster Kahle, and John Perry Barlow.
As a media consultant, she worked with the founder of many tech companies, including CNet News, Wired, Ask, Google, NeXT, Authentic8, Marimba, and Napster, as well as many nonprofits, including the Electronic Frontier Foundation, the Sierra Club, the Internet Archive, ISKME, Expression College, the UC Berkeley Greater Good Science Center, OneWorldHealth, and the UCSC Genomics Institute. She also has designed strategic PR for book authors.
In 1997 she founded Gracenet, a networking group for women in high tech with chapters that met monthly in San Francisco, Palo Alto, Los Angeles, and Phoenix. The aim was to raise the level of respect and support for women in technology. For several years, Gracenet's “DisGraceful Award in Advertising” – given to the most sexist ad in high-tech media -- made the news itself on a global scale and encouraged companies including IBM and InfoUSA to withdraw ads depicting women as sex objects.
She helped revive the Hillside Club in Berkeley, the oldest community club in Northern California, originally built by Bernard Maybeck and founded by women. Working with technologist and MacArthur Foundation officer Jeff Ubois, she raised funds, recruited new members, and created partnerships with local arts groups in the East Bay.
Since 1993, she has organized and hosted events that bring people together to exchange and collaborate on ideas with change makers.
Infusion, a monthly lunch hosted by Berkeley Rep Theater and Freight & Salvage Coffeehouse in Berkeley, introduced emerging leaders and thinkers in technology to the East Bay community. Speakers included NY Times reporters Katie Benner and Farhad Manjoo; former Google engineer Anthony Levandowski; entrepreneur and Harvard Fellow Vivek Wadhwa; Craig Newmark; Code.org cofounder Ali Partovi; media pundit Jeff Jarvis, inventors Steve Beck and Ken Goldberg, and authors Sherry Turkle and Kevin Kelly.
The Berkeley Cybersalon asked participants to engage directly with entrepreneurs, inventors, reporters, and thinkers in discussions and often debates about the social implications of new technologies disrupting everything from health to the arts, media, and interpersonal relationships. Speakers included Jaron Lanier, Phil Rosedale, Mark Pincus, Kim Polese, and the founders of the Norwegian Pirate Party, as well as high-tech pundits Farhad Manjoo, Scott Rosenberg, Steven Levy, John Markoff, Dan Gillmor, and Kara Swisher.
The Last Friday Ladies (and Gents) Lunch drew people for vivacious discussions over a potluck launch the last Friday of each month at the Hillside Club in Berkeley. Speakers included formerly ordinary women, including founder of Outdoor Afro Rue Mapp, doing extraordinary things to improve life on this planet.
Bike East Bay/Albany Strollers & Rollers
Past board member of Bike East Bay and Grizzly Peak Cyclists; organizer of bike valet parking for Albany Strollers & Rollers; and avid cyclist. Former competitive bicycle racer with the Berkeley Bicycle Club and a participant in the 2013 California Climate Ride.
Check out Sylvia’s posts at Medium.com, which are mainly about the high-tech industry. Her September 2019 post about former client, Richard Stallman, founder of the Free Software Foundation and co-creator of GNU/Linux, has drawn more than 23,000 views, and a year after posting, still draws traffic.