Top row (from left): Wade Crowfoot, Rebecca Johnson, Alexii Sigona, Sharaya Souza. Bottom row (from left): DJ Umami, Crystal Wahpepah, Alison Young, Nelson ZêPequéno.

Top row (from left): Wade Crowfoot, Rebecca Johnson, Alexii Sigona, Sharaya Souza. Bottom row (from left): DJ Umami, Crystal Wahpepah, Alison Young, Nelson ZêPequéno.



SAN FRANCISCO, CA (March 21, 2024) — The California Academy of Sciences' annual fundraising gala Big Bang and Party After Dark, on Thursday, April 18, will spotlight the Academy’s Thriving California initiative and feature California Natural Resources Secretary Wade Crowfoot as keynote speaker.

Thriving California aims to regenerate biodiversity, build resilience to climate change, and advance equitable access to nature in three major California ecosystems—Sierra forests, coasts, and cities, starting in San Francisco.

Crowfoot is leading efforts to conserve 30 percent of the state’s land and coastal waters by 2030, known as the 30x30 initiative. A member of Gov. Gavin Newsom’s cabinet, Crowfoot stewards California’s forests and natural lands, rivers and water supplies, coast and ocean, and helps oversee the state’s world-leading clean energy transition.

Gala Cocktail Hour and Dinner

Guests will have the opportunity to learn about the Academy's statewide research and conservation projects with Thriving California initiative co-leads Rebecca Johnson, PhD, and Alison Young during a cocktail reception that will begin at 5:30 p.m. and feature live music. “In the past few years, California has faced severe droughts, alarming wildfire seasons, and innumerable threats to wildlife," said Young. "One of the best tools we have to wield against these ecological threats is science. Whether it’s investigating forest management and ecosystem health in the Sierras or repopulating San Francisco’s dunes with butterflies, the Academy is using science to steer California toward a thriving, regenerative future."

A seated dinner in the museum’s Piazza will feature a sustainably sourced, uniquely California menu by McCalls in collaboration with Indigenous Chef Crystal Wahpepah, owner and executive chef of Wahpepah’s Kitchen in Oakland. Academy Executive Director and William R. and Gretchen B. Kimball Chair Scott D. Sampson, PhD, will take the audience on a journey through the institution’s impactful work to regenerate the natural world.

Party After Dark

Following dinner, guests will learn more about California’s biodiversity and ecosystems at Party After Dark, while enjoying tasty bites, craft cocktails, and high-energy music performed by the Bay Area’s own DJ Umami. Attendees will have the opportunity to engage with some of the Academy’s Indigenous partners through immersive experiences including a seaweed and tea tasting with Cafe Ohlone. Short films highlighting Indigenous astronomy from One Sky Project will play throughout the evening in the Planetarium.

A panel discussion on the inspiring power and critical perspectives younger generations have in addressing climate change will be moderated by Chloé Stowell Colón, digital creator and Stanford political science PhD candidate, and include Alexii Sigona, a Berkeley PhD student focused on tribal land access; Sharaya Souza, co-founder and executive director of the American Indian Cultural District; and Nelson ZêPequéno, a Ghanaian-American Artist and founder of "Black Men With Gardens."

Big Bang | Thriving California Co-Chairs Dan Janney and Noelle Montgomery and Corporate Chair Carla J. Peterman, PG&E Corporation, invite guests to attend in Golden State Glam attire. Big Bang is generously supported by Presenting Sponsor Autodesk.

Big Bang is an annual fundraising event in support of the Academy’s mission to regenerate the natural world through science, learning, and collaboration. Big Bang will begin at 5:30 p.m. Thursday, April 18. Party After Dark will follow and run from 8:30 p.m. to midnight. Big Bang tickets can be purchased online here and Party After Dark tickets can be purchased online here or over the phone at (415) 379-5411.

Photos from previous Big Bang galas are available for use in preview features, and photos from this year’s gala will be shared immediately after the event.

About the California Academy of Sciences

The California Academy of Sciences is a renowned scientific and educational institution with a mission to regenerate the natural world through science, learning, and collaboration. Based in San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park, it is home to a world-class aquarium, planetarium, and natural history museum, as well as innovative programs in biodiversity science, environmental learning, and collaborative engagement—all under one living roof. Museum hours are 9:30 am – 5:00 pm Monday – Saturday, and 11:00 am – 5:00 pm on Sunday. Admission includes all exhibits, programs, and shows. For daily ticket prices, please visit or call (415) 379-8000 for more information.

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