Gwen Sanderson named SF State Osher Lifelong Learning Institute director

Monday, November 09, 2015
SAN FRANCISCO, November 9, 2015 — Small business owner and community advocate Gwen Sanderson was recently named director of the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute (OLLI) at San Francisco State University. She began the new position in June.
Photo of Gwen Sanderson
Institute, among 119 nationwide, offers year-round enrichment courses for people age 50 and up

Sanderson is charged with providing leadership and direction in the growth, development and implementation of OLLI as an innovative model for instruction and community engagement for people age 50 and up. She manages the institute’s day-to-day operations; develops programs and curricula; coordinates events, member initiatives and promotions; and builds partnerships in the community.

Sanderson is also responsible for developing OLLI’s new strategic partnership with Sixty Plus, a self-supporting, SF State-based community that has organized social events and lectures for people age 60 and up since 1975. The partnership enables members of each organization to attend and participate in selected events presented by the other organization. It has also established a dialogue and close working relationships between both groups.

“With remarkable success as an entrepreneur and neighborhood advocate, Gwen Sanderson possesses the abilities to find solutions in the most difficult of situations, and to build long-lasting relationships with key constituents,” said Daniel Bernardi, interim dean of the College of Liberal & Creative Arts. “Gwen will carry out a commitment to expand lifelong learning opportunities of the highest quality, particularly on the University’s main campus. She has the knowledge, experience and leadership skills to make San Francisco State a national flagship for OLLI.”

Sanderson was previously OLLI’s interim director for three months. Prior, she was a special assistant for OLLI. For 10 years she served as co-owner and manager/operator of Video Wave of Noe Valley in San Francisco. She served as president of the Noe Valley Merchants and Professionals Association during a tenure of eight years on its board. Sanderson has received two certificates of honor from the San Francisco Board of Supervisors for her work with neighborhood businesses. She earned her Bachelor of Arts in liberal studies from Northern Arizona University.

With classes ongoing, Sanderson has already been successful in extending OLLI’s national mission inside and outside San Francisco State.

“Our leadership is engaged and ready to continue our growth and expand our connections at the University and in the community, taking advantage of all that SF State has to offer and bringing all that we can to the University,” Sanderson said. “We are proud to have this wonderful relationship to ensure a high level of intellectually stimulating classes to our members.”

Sanderson replaces Sandra Halladey.

OLLI, founded at SF State in 2003, is based in the University’s College of Liberal & Creative Arts. It is one of 119 centers across the country for people age 50 and up, designated and funded with grants from the Bernard Osher Foundation of San Francisco. All courses are open to the general public; admission to the University is not needed. Visit


Photo by Hannah Anderson

Media Contact: 
Matt Itelson, 415-338-1442,, College of Liberal & Creative Arts, San Francisco State University, 1600 Holloway Avenue, San Francisco, California 94132
News Release