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Mary (Brighton) Borrelli

2006 and 2013

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I graduated from Cal Berkeley, became a partner in Chez Panisse restaurant in the 70's (this helped me pay my Cal expenses), married Jim Borrelli who used to teach at Clayton Valley. He then went on to teach and become principal at St. Mary's College High School in Berkeley. We have been divorced for a while now.

I sold my second business (from Chez Pannise I went on to open Borrelli's Delicatessen in Berkeley's gourmet ghetto) in 1985 to pursue an opportunity in documentary film. I was the associate producer for a feature film called 'Berkeley In The Sixties'. We won a Golden Globe, a Columbia Dupont Broadcasting award, and an Oscar nomination in 1990. The film is still in circulation around the world. From there I went on to become a field producer for KRON TV, then the NBC affiliate in San Francisco.

I spent most of my time on the streets of San Francisco covering news, including the Loma Prieta earthquake and the Oakland firestorm. I also was part of the documentary unit and won an Emmy award for a documentary called 'The Port Chicago Mutiny', the story of the WWII explosion at what is now the Concord Naval Weapons Station.

From KRON I moved on to Kaiser Permanente where I managed communications for physicians and the executives in the high-tech division of Kaiser. I left Kaiser in May of 2003, sold my home and moved to Tucson, where I built a home and now do marketing and communications. I am healthy and happy and busy creating my next adventure. The southwest is a great place to live - full of history, art, enterpise - and very affordable.


Since I last wrote, I worked for the American Cancer Society for a number of years, managing media relations for the California Division and advocating with state legislators for the preservation of funding for free cancer screenings for low-income people and for healthcare reform.

I took a year off to write fiction, which I still do, and then began consulting for nonprofits, helping to set up a community safety foundation for a company in Walnut Creek. Now I am working with the International Rescue Committee in Northern California (San Jose, Oakland, Sacramento and Turlock), where I work with foundations and government agencies for funding to expand our education programs. I also help the organization to understand how Obamacare will affect the refugee community and what resources will be available to them.

I work on immigration reform, which is now moving through the legislative process, advocating to preserve the priorities that now exist for refugee family reunification. This is at risk of being curtailed in favor of bringing in refugees with technology backgrounds to staff Silicon Valley. It is a tradeoff that could result in many families not being able to reunite.

I still find time to write everyday, 7 days a week - a mix of fiction and fact, usually early in the morning before the hustle takes my attention. I've often thought that the stories of the CVHS class of '66 would make an epic novel. A myriad of characters, lots of drama, humor, adventure, gains and losses. We were the leading edge of a generation facing enormous change and I'm sure there are some great stories worth telling among our motley crew.

Life is good. I live in the Oakland hills, on a beautiful tree-lined street, in the heart of one of the best places on the planet. I can't imagine retiring as I continue to find work rewarding. I have had some fabulous opportunities to work with inspiring people - journalists, filmmakers, scientists, politicians, human rights workers, refugees, clinicians - they have brought so much to my life. Perhaps, when I am approaching 100 I will consider retirement, but not now - there is just too much to do, too many adventures to be had.

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This page updated: June 20, 2014