Storefront Institute was conceived by Claire Fitzsimmons and Kate Griffin. We both began thinking about the paradox of Americans’ quest for happiness and wellness and the reality of widespread anxiety and mental health issues. We were also both experiencing a disconnect between the world of ideas - which we were immersed in professionally and loved - and real-world, everyday life.
We began working on the idea for Storefront Institute in 2013, talking with writers, artists, psychologists, and entrepreneurs about the big shifts happening in our institutions and social structures, and how these changes were impacting our personal lives. We could see that we were all experiencing similar kinds of things but were lacking in public and institutional supports to help us.
Out of this research period, together we developed the vision for Storefront Institute to be a new kind of cultural and community organization. One that connects people and helps us learn about our lives and how to live with more meaning, purpose, and impact.
Claire Fitzsimmons, Founder and Director
Claire Fitzsimmons is a curator who has worked internationally with some of the most important contemporary artists, architects, and designers. At Tate Modern, the Institute of Contemporary Art, and Serpentine Gallery in London, as well as the CCA Wattis Institute in San Francisco, Claire has spent more than a decade as an exhibition-maker and explorer of ideas and cultural practice. She has an MA in Art History from the Courtauld Institute of Art and has taught exhibition practice at California College for the Arts.
Claire is interested in mental health subjects, psychology, and concepts around living. She has spent the past couple of years examining and writing about the connection between culture and how we experience our lives, and she is currently at work on a book about her own mother’s struggle with anxiety.
Originally from Manchester, UK, and holding on to some of that northern grounding, Claire has lived and worked in the Bay Area since 2009. She moves as much as she can between both countries.
Kate Griffin, Founder
Kate Griffin is a cross-sector strategist, idea maker and connector. She has a humanities Ph.D., has been a non-profit Executive Director, and has worked in social entrepreneurship. Most recently, she was the founder and Project Director of San Francisco Seniors Remember, a collaborative oral history project of Meals on Wheels of San Francisco, the University of San Francisco, StoryCorps, and Cal Humanities. She is also at work on a children’s book and a volume of poetry.
Always an educator at heart, Kate is interested in pedagogy and the transformative impact of learning, and in cultivating new ways to connect people to their callings and to one another. She believes that learning should be personal and purposeful: that intellectual and emotional inquiry go hand-in-hand. A designer and builder of programs, Kate trusts that a better future is to be found in the hearts and minds of everyday people who bring the world of ideas into their work and lives.
JOYCE GRIMM, CREATIVE ENGAGEMENT SPECIALIST
Joyce is a creative artist by trade and is interested in ideas that foster healthy communities and support creative solutions. She received her Masters from California College of the Arts in the field of Curatorial Practice, which stems largely from social anthropology and community development.
Joyce's previous roles have included: Contemporary Gallery Owner and Director (Triple Base 2005-2011), San Francisco City Arts Curator working with the Mayor’s Office of Economic Development and the City Art Galleries, an Art Studio Manager at the Discovery Museum, a Clay and Sculpture Instructor, a Chef Educator for Pie Ranch, a Visiting Professor at CCA, a Lecturer at Portland State and the University of San Francisco, a Program Coordinator for The Andy Warhol Foundation, a Creative Consultant/Curator for Manresa Gallery focusing on Interfaith Dialogue, and the Creative Developer for a girl’s cycling & art program in Iceland. Concurrently with Storefront, Joyce is Director of Wild Child which is a school that uses the forest as a classroom.
By actively participating in various creative platforms, Joyce is connected to a diverse group of artists and cultural practitioners and promotes art that activates community.