Advisory Board

Lou Cannon

Workshop – Explanatory Journalism

Lou Cannon, known for his political reporting on California and the nation, is the foremost biographer of Ronald Reagan. He has written five books about Reagan, including the acclaimed President Reagan: The Role of a Lifetime, a Book of the Month Club main selection when originally published by Simon and Schuster in 1991. George F. Will said that Cannon was “Reagan’s best biographer.” John Chancellor called President Reagan: The Role of a Lifetime “indispensable,” saying it presented “the real Reagan, without the makeup or the handlers, seen through the eyes of the keenest Reagan-watcher of them all.” The White House announced in December 2010 that President Obama was reading this book on his vacation.

Lou Cannon worked 26 years on the national staff of The Washington Post, where he won many awards and was often described as a “reporter’s reporter” by his colleagues. Subsequently, he was a contributing editor and then chief executive officer of California Journal, an acclaimed non-partisan magazine that was published from 1970 to 2005. He is now editorial adviser to State Net Capitol Journal in Sacramento, a Lexis-Nexis publication, for which he writes a monthly “Cannon Perspective” column. He also writes a weekly column, “Short Takes,” for the acclaimed website RealClearPolitics. Cannon lectures on the presidency, the media, California politics, and police issues and has written for Smithsonian magazine, National Review, The New York Times, the Los Angeles Times and other publications and websites. Cannon’s noteworthy books include Official Negligence: How Rodney King and the Riots Changed Los Angeles and the LAPD, published in 1998 by Times Books.

Cannon has four children and eight grandchildren. He and his wife, Mary, live in Summerland, near Santa Barbara, California.

Nancy Leffert

Nancy LeffertDr. Nancy Leffert, President of Antioch University Santa Barbara, is a nationally known scholar of child and adolescent development. She is particularly well known for her work as author of the Developmental Assets Framework, a paradigm of positive youth development that delineates factors contributing to the healthy development of children and adolescents and that is widely used and cited. The 40 internal and external positive features in the lives of children and youth that make up the Developmental Assets Framework have been demonstrated repeatedly to contribute to the reduction of risk behaviors and the enhancement of thriving among children and youth. Currently in use in over 500 communities across the country, the scientific work that contributed to the creation of the Developmental Assets Framework was used to create tools that assist communities to mobilize around raising healthy children and adolescents.

Frequently invited to give nationwide scientific keynote and community presentations, Dr. Leffert has an established reputation as a national expert on adolescent development, scholar, speaker, and consultant. Her work created the broad-based Healthy Communities • Healthy Youth movement that has contributed to re-shaping the national dialogue and manner in which we approach adolescent development, prevention, and education. Dr. Leffert is the author of numerous scientific books and articles, books and training materials for parents and youth development professionals and others who work with children and youth.

Dr. Leffert received her BA and Master’s Degree in Social Work from San Diego State University and her PhD in Child Psychology from the renowned Institute of Child Development at the University of Minnesota. With more than 35 years of experience in higher education and social service administration, her experience has included administrative positions at non-profit community agencies providing family life education and treating learning problems of children and youth as well as public and private institutions of higher education. Most recently prior to joining Antioch University Santa Barbara, Dr. Leffert served as Associate Dean for Student Services and Institutional Effectiveness at Fielding Graduate University in Santa Barbara.

As a community leader on the South Coast, Dr. Leffert serves non-profit organizations focusing on social responsibility and civic engagement and continues her work to promote the healthy development of young people in our community and increasing access to higher education.

Jeff Lovelace

jeff-lovelaceJeff Lovelace has enjoyed careers ranging from record producer to founder and CEO of an award winning giftware manufacturing company. His non-profit efforts include serving as a trustee for the Colorado Springs School. Lovelace’s photography has appeared in numerous galleries, the Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History, and publications such as Santa Barbara Magazine and Sky and Telescope. As a writer, Lovelace won top honors in a Maui Writers Conference humor writing competition, and he wrote the screenplay for the SBIFF award winning short film Sunset on Cabrillo Boulevard. Jeffrey is also the current editor of the AUSB’s student literary journal The Odyssey.

Meryl Peters

Meryl Peters PhotoMeryl Peters holds an MFA in Creative Writing Fiction from Antioch University Los Angeles. She has a BA in Creative Writing from Vermont College, and an AAS degree from The Fashion Institute of Technology in New York City. She is the author of a novel-in-stories The First One to Speak Loses, which is currently under publication consideration, and numerous short stories including “Shalimar” published in Wind Magazine, and “Miss Brighton Beach, 1937″ published in the Southern Indiana Review. Meryl’s awards include Residency at Dorland Mountain Artists Colony, RopeWalk Writers’ Scholarship, Mary C. Mohr Short Fiction Finalist, Cottonwood Art Cooperative Fiction Fellowship Runner Up, AWP Writers’ Conferences & Festivals Scholarship Finalist, and Cutbank Literary Journal Chapbook Semi-Finalist. At Antioch University Santa Barbara she teaches Creative Writing classes and seminars, Academic Writing, Critical Thinking Through Literature, mentors students’ Independent Studies, and is faculty advisor to The AUSB Odyssey student publication. She is a member of the English Department at Santa Barbara City College, and also conducts private fiction workshops as well as edits both fiction and nonfiction. She is on the Advisory Board of Speaking of Stories, and is a member of She Writes.

Vicki Riskin

Vick RiskinVictoria Riskin, Chair, was a writer and producer for television with credits that include The Last Best Year, The Member of the Wedding, My Antonia, A Town Torn Apart, and World War II: When Lions Roared. She is past President of the Writers Guild of America West, the union representing 8500 screen and television writers. She was a Trustee and Chair of the Writers and Producers Pension and Health Fund and founding Chair of Hollywood Health and Society. She received the Chairman’s Award by the Caucus of Writers, Producers and Directors for her leadership role in the Creative Community’s fight against media concentration; the Justice Rose Bird Person of Courage Award by Death Penalty Focus; the Horace Mann Alumna of the Year Award by Antioch University Los Angeles; and the Human Rights-Defender of the First Amendment Award by the ACLU of Southern California. In January, she received the Writers Guild of America West 2009 Valentine Davies Award in recognition of contributions to the entertainment industry and community at large, which have brought dignity and honor to writers everywhere.

Dr. Riskin was a founding member of Human Rights Watch/California and currently serves as its Co- Chair in Los Angeles and Chair of the Santa Barbara Committee of Human Rights Watch. She sits on the International Board of Human Rights Watch and is chair of the Hellman-Hammett Committee that oversees the distribution of funds from the estate of Lillian Hellman to writers persecuted around the world. She has a BA in Humanities from USC, a Master’s Degree in Psychology from Antioch University Los Angeles, and a Ph.D. in Counseling Psychology from the University of Southern California. She had a private practice as a psychologist before becoming a screenwriter and producer of movies-for-television. Ms. Riskin now resides fulltime in Santa Barbara with her husband, award-winning writer and producer David W. Rintels.

Jerry Roberts

Jerry Roberts is an author and prize-winning journalist with more than three decades of experience in the news business. The former Managing Editor of the San Francisco Chronicle and the former Editor and Publisher of the Santa Barbara News-Press, he is co-founder of, which the Washington Post recently judged the state’s best non-partisan web site covering California politics. His political analysis also appears in the Los Angeles Times, Sacramento Bee and the Chronicle, and he is the author of “Never Let Them See You Cry,” a biography of Senator Dianne Feinstein.

As a broadcast commentator, he provides political analysis for public radio stations KCRW-FM in Los Angeles and KCLU-FM in Ventura, and for KGO-AM in San Francisco, and also hosts “Real Talk”, a public affairs television program in Santa Barbara. As a journalism teacher, he has lectured at UCSB, Stanford and the University of California at Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism, among other colleges.

The recipient of several national awards for ethics, his fight for ethical journalism at the Santa Barbara News-Press is chronicled in the documentary film, “Citizen McCaw.”