4 Marin Fathers Talk About Parenting

Rad dads of Marin share their stories.

With summer vacation upon us, we talk to four Marin dads about what it takes to excel at parenting when the heat rises and the kids are out of school, and how they give back by aiding less fortunate families.

TOM SHEPARD

Tom resides in Mill Valley and is the CMO and a partner at the strategic agency 21 Marketing. He is also an avid fly fisherman and plays soccer. His advice for dads? “It has been said ad nauseam, but it’s true: make the time to be there for your kids, whether it’s for their performances, school functions or games, because you don’t get it back,” he says. In the summer, Tom and his son spend time traveling to lacrosse tournaments. They also scuba dive. “He got certified young and it has provided a focal point for vacations and shared experiences for us,” Tom says. Both Tom and his son devote time and energy to charity projects. “I am very fortunate to be a part of the EACH Foundation. My son does community service projects through his school at the Marine Mammal Center and will also be on a conservation crew working to restore trail systems and habitats.”

GEOFF CALLAN

Geoff is a filmmaker and actor, and his wife, Hilary Newsom, is president of the PlumpJack Group. He is father to Tali, who will be a junior at Redwood High next year, and Siena, who will be a freshman at Marin Catholic. “My kids take precedence over everything I do,” Geoff says. “My advice is to be flexible and spontaneous — sometimes coming up with an idea at the last minute is half the fun.” The Callan family moved to Kentfield seven years ago from San Francisco. “My wife and her brother Gavin grew up in Marin,” he says. “Our transition was easy, mainly because life here has been so welcoming.” In the summer, the family travels, camps, golfs and barbecues. “When our pool is full of laughing kids and music is on, I am at my most relaxed. Although our hearts are still in San Francisco, every day in Marin feels like a vacation.” The family fundraises and volunteers at the Holy Family Day Home, which provides affordable early childhood education. Geoff and his wife also started the PlumpJack/LINK Golf Classic, which has raised over $6 million for cancer research and education.

NATHAN BALLARD

“I believe I was put on earth to be a dad,” Nathan says. “Every day, my heart is bursting with love for these kids.” Nathan has two daughters and two sons. The former communications director for Gavin Newsom and founder of the PR agency The Press Shop lives with his family in Kentfield. “It’s a special place for my wife Mara and me,” he says. “We met there at a Christmas dinner at Jennifer and Gavin’s home.” Nathan’s advice to other dads is to be a good role model but don’t over-parent. “It’s our job to raise independent, resilient problem-solvers,” he says. “That means they need to make some mistakes and experience the consequences.” Summer in Kentfield is a great time for the family. “The whole neighborhood shuts down for a block party called Flamingo Fridays,” he says. “We’ll also go to the Mountain Play to see Grease or spend the day at Stinson Beach and have cheeseburgers from Parkside.” Nathan’s kids are actively involved in giving back. “Every summer we volunteer at Operation Provider at Bruin Woods. My daughter constantly volunteers to do service projects with the Girl Scouts.”

PETE SEARSON

Pete is co-founder of Tellason, a Sausalito based denim-wear company. He has been living in Mill Valley since 1995 with his wife, Susannah, and now their two daughters Luella and Charlotte. “I am an analog guy by nature,” Pete says. This way of life has influenced his parenting. “My advice would be to find a way to make an unobstructed life for your kids in the outdoors,” he says. “This does not come without its dangerous moments, but hopefully good judgment prevails.” In the summer months, Pete says, it’s all about sleeping in. Other than that, his family gets on an airplane to explore — they particularly love going to Japan. He gives back through his work as president of Mill Valley Girls Softball. “To see girls on the field from all walks of life as teammates is a big deal,” he says.

This article originally appeared in Marin Magazine’s print edition with the headline: “Rad Dads”.


Susan NoyesSusan B. Noyes is the Founder & Chief Visionary Officer of Make It Better Media Group, as well as the Founder of Make It Better Foundation’s Philanthropy Awards. A mother of six, former Sidley Austin labor lawyer and U.S. Congressional Aide, passionate philanthropist, and intuitive connector, she has served on boards for the Poetry FoundationHarvard University Graduate School of Education Visiting Committee, American Red CrossLurie Children’s HospitalAnnenberg ChallengeChicago Public Education FundLyric Opera of ChicagoChicago Symphony OrchestraNew Trier High School District 203, and her beloved Kenilworth Union Church. But most of all, she enjoys writing and serving others by creating virtuous circles that amplify social impact.
Categories: Marin Profiles, People+Places