Around Town | January 18, 2019 | Palo Alto Weekly | Palo Alto Online |

Palo Alto Weekly

News - January 18, 2019

Around Town

ENTERING THE 'SHARK TANK' ... Palo Alto resident Whitney Lundeen, founder of Sonnet James, which creates play dresses for moms, took a chance by leaving Silicon Valley where investors abound for "Shark Tank," an ABC reality show for rising entrepreneurs. The mother of two boys, Satchel and Eero, will make her pitch to five celebrity business moguls who will decide if they want to back her company on an episode airing this Sunday, Jan. 20. Lundeen, 32, prepared for her presentation by talking to pictures of the panelists taped on her mirror and reviewing lists with 100 to 200 potential questions from the "sharks." Her fears peaked the moment she stepped through the doors on the show's set. "Literally, all I was thinking was 'Don't pee in your pants,'" she said. As soon as Lundeen dove into her pitch, she found the tycoons to be kind and supportive. Her practice paid off; She said she gave 200-percent effort and left it all on the floor. While she couldn't share whether her pitch paid off, she was happy with her experience on the show and remains hopeful for the future of her company. "This is going to be the biggest year of growth," she said.

A WELCOME SIGHT ... The new year will mark a new beginning for the Vista Center for the Blind & Visually Impaired, which now has a new executive director in Karae Lisle, the Palo Alto-based nonprofit announced Wednesday. Lisle may be familiar to some for her role as CEO of InnVision Shelter Network, where she spearheaded a merger between two leading service providers for the homeless that is now known as LifeMoves, which provides 1,000 beds each night in Silicon Valley. "Karae's experience with mergers and organizational growth is just the right skillset for Vista Center, following our recent merger with the San Jose," Vista Center board President Marc O'Boyle said in a press release. "She is a true nonprofit leader, with the right balance of tenacious advocacy, client compassion, and dedication to development/donor growth." Lisle also has a background in the tech industry through the Burroughs Corporation, where she worked with emerging and Fortune 500 companies on strategy, marketing sales and consulting. "It is an privilege to lead this organization that has such a respected nonprofit tradition, a breadth and strength of programs, and recent geographic service expansion," Lisle said in a press release. She will succeed Pam Brandin, who retired at the end of 2018 following 24 years with the Vista Center.

TAKE THE MONEY ... More than $3.5 million is waiting to be claimed by 4,900 taxpayers in Santa Clara County who have yet to take ownership of their property tax money. The money is collected from the county's Department of Tax and Collections which sends out more than 500,000 property tax bills and gathers over $6 billion each year. They can stem from reduced assessments, overpayments and duplicate payments. The department has contacted these taxpayers of their unclaimed funds by phone and mail. In some cases, the money never went to its rightful owner because the notification was returned by mail, left alone or refused by the recipient. "We make every effort to refund the rightful owners of the unclaimed property tax money," department Director Margaret Olaiya said in a press release issued Tuesday. "We encourage taxpayers to file a claim if they believe that they may be due a refund based on their published names." The agency is giving residents who qualify for a refund until Feb. 28 to file their claims. After that date, unclaimed money in the property tax trust fund will be moved to the county general fund. To find out if you're among the residents who hasn't claimed their money, visit Anyone with questions can reach out to the department's Fiscal Services Division at 408-808-8949 or


1 person likes this
Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jan 21, 2019 at 10:59 am

Well done Whitney.

It was so nice to see a local rising above her circumstances and doing well. Presumably this was recorded sometime ago and now that it has been aired we can be told how things are going since she has received the help she requested. I am sure she has had so many more "hits" online since the broadcast too.

Well done.

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