2015 Spring Board Dinner

March 20, 2015

Hertz Fellows and Friends, Board of Directors, and Interviewers

San Mateo Marriott, San Francisco




A Night to Remember

by Cooper Rinzler

Hertz Board dinners are always special occasions. There’s a buzz in the air over enthusiasm of welcoming new Hertz Fellows as the interview season comes to a close. Everyone was excited as we collected in the banquet room in San Mateo, but the March 2015 Hertz Board Dinner was extra special this year, with a few surprises.

The first surprise on the table was literally on the table – flasks and beakers filled with some sort of gelatinous material that confounded the great minds collected. The most important question (are they edible?) was soon answered (no) by our MC of the evening with his subtle humor and not-so-subtle enthusiasm. Paul Nielsen, a Hertz Fellow and Director, and part-time standup comedian welcomed the over 100 Hertz Fellows and Friends and kicked off our evening.

Our speaker for the evening was none other than Hertz Fellow Kim Budil, the Director Vice President for Laboratory Management at the UCOP. Kim gave an impassioned address on the current state and future potential of the national labs, reminded us that her lasers are bigger than ours, and engaged the audience in a conversation of the critical role the innovation process plays in securing our country’s future in her keynote “Science, Innovation and Security”.

Paul returned to the podium to inform us that there was a second “surprise” program for the evening, and that it was time to get a drink in hand as we prepared to toast and thank Jay Davis for his years of service, and his impending retirement, as President of the Fannie & John Hertz Foundation. With an almost imperceptible hint of discomfort, Jay revealed he knew what was coming: a Tribute to Jay Davis.

In-school and recent graduate Fellows Katie Maass, Grant Gillary, Floris van Breugel, and I took the stage. Fellows shared the impact that Jay has had on their lives and the Hertz Community. It was unanimously reflected that Jay is our biggest advocate, a role model, a one-of-a-kind storyteller and drinking buddy, and has meant more to us these years than the title “President” can describe. Grant also reminded us of the levity with which Jay considers himself with a ridiculous, and hilarious, photo montage of Jay’s personality doppelgangers. The young Fellows ended by sharing a compiled video of In-School Fellows thanking Jay for all that he has done for them and the Foundation – the result of which is Jay having been dubbed “Fantasy Grandfather”.

David Galas, Hertz Fellow and Chairman of the Board, took the stage next. You could feel Jay’s relief as David stated that he would speak with restraint. David unequivocally communicated that the Foundation would not be the success it is today without Jay’s drive and leadership. He enthusiastically informed us that this is not farewell to Jay – as Fantasy Grandfather and the first “Senior Fellow” Jay will continue to participate in the Hertz Community and will be a regular face at events.

Harold Newman, Kim Budil, Hans Mark, and Stephen Fantone followed David to reflect on the life and times of Jay Davis, extending well before his tenure as President. From every speaker of the evening came a clear, resounding message: the Hertz Community as it exists today does so because of Jay. He has had a permanent impact on the community and the individuals that comprise it. A heartfelt thanks to Mary, Jay’s wife, for lending him to us these many years removed any remaining dry eyes.

The impenetrable Jay took the stage following the reflections of these dear friends and colleagues and told us that we haven’t gotten rid of him yet. For all of our sakes, I hope you’re right Jay. Thank you for all that you’ve done for us, the Hertz Community, and the Foundation. The next round is on us.

Cooper Rinzler
Hertz Fellow 2013
Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Photonic Material Technologies