Recent Comments


    The Al Baum Memorial Lecture Series

    By Mark Leno–

    My dear friend Rabbi Camille Angel has been a trailblazer for many decades in many ways. Currently, she is the Rabbi in Residence at the University of San Francisco—yes, a Jesuit institution of higher education. At USF, Rabbi Angel has created a course entitled “Honoring our LGBTQ Elders,” which does just that. It has become one of the most popular classes on campus. Additionally, she has initiated The Al Baum Memorial Lecture series at USF. Last year, Dr. Marcy Adelman, a psychotherapist, advocate, and founder of Openhouse, an LGBTQ+ senior serving nonprofit, was the first speaker. On March 26th I will have the privilege of following her in that honor.

    There is good reason why Rabbi Angel named this unique lecture program in the loving memory of Al Baum. As a friend of mine for over 30 years, Al was to me an uncommonly talented and accomplished individual. In many ways, he was a modern age renaissance man. Trust me, this is no exaggeration. Passionately curious about and deeply engaged in human rights issues, city and regional planning, environmental conservation, mental health, LGBTQ+ equality, the Jewish community, travel, and the arts, Al pursued leadership roles in each of these disciplines.

    With a law degree from Harvard, Al moved to San Francisco, joining a legal firm in the late fifties. By 1963, Al enrolled at UC Berkeley to follow one of his interests, which led to a master’s degree in city and regional planning. With that credential in hand, Al joined the SF Bay Conservation and Development Commission, where he helped craft novel regulations to protect the Bay’s health. From there, Al opened his own law office to further engage in local planning issues.

    In the early years of the AIDS epidemic, Al returned to UC Berkeley to earn another master’s degree, this time in psychotherapy. Sensing the need in our community for quality and accessible mental health counseling, Al thrived for decades offering his services in some of our darkest and most challenging times. I know that Al felt compelled to do what he could to ease some of the emotional suffering that he saw all around him. 

    Somehow, despite the many professional responsibilities that Al so readily and successfully embraced, his sense of tikkun olam, the Hebrew expression for the repair of the world, drove him to extensive community service and philanthropy. Al served on countless nonprofit boards including Lambda Legal, Jewish Family and Children’s Services, the New Israel Fund that advocates for equality and democracy in Israel, the ACLU of Northern California, and the Jewish Community Federation. Clearly, Al’s twin identities of Gay and Jewish were at the core of his leadership and generosity. Additionally, for many years Al was the only queer representation on the board of the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco.

    Always out and proud, Al was blessed in his last decades to meet the love of his life, Robert Holgate. Together, they were greater than the sum of their parts. For nearly 20 years, Al and Robert were everywhere in the community, attending events and fundraisers, traveling worldwide, pursuing their common interests in theater and art, and focusing on their ever-growing philanthropy. 

    Al Baum was my friend, mentor, and someone I greatly admired. With each new office I considered Al was my sounding board, wise counsel, and major supporter. I miss him greatly. It gives me great pleasure to see Rabbi Angel honor him so appropriately at USF and to offer me the honor to participate in the lecture series named for him.

    Mark Leno has been a small business owner in San Francisco for 45 years. He is also a community activist and was a public official for 18 years, having served as County Supervisor, State Assemblyman, and State Senator. 

    Dr. Marcy Adelman, a psychologist and LGBTQ+ longevity advocate and policy adviser, oversees the Aging in Community column. She serves on the California Commission on Aging, the Board of the Alzheimer’s Association of Northern California, the California Master Plan on Aging Equity Advisory Committee, and the San Francisco Dignity Fund Oversight and Advisory Committee. She is the Co-Founder of Openhouse, the only San Francisco nonprofit exclusively focused on the health and well-being of LGBTQ+ older adults.

    Published on March 9, 2023