History of the Job Forum

The Job Forum began on July 24th, 1952. This nonprofit community service has continued and expanded, offering weekly meetings to help job hunters since then. The Job Forum will celebrate 70 years of community and social impact in the San Francisco Bay Area in September 2022!

Robert Ronald, Founding Father (1926-2022)

In 1952, a young man, Robert Ronald, newly arrived in San Francisco, became a new member of the San Francisco Junior Chamber of Commerce, and created a “Job Finding Forum”. As a child, Robert Ronald barely escaped with his family from Nazi Germany, and surviving the Holocaust, they immigrated to France, then Cuba, and then to the USA. From these harrowing experiences, he understood the importance of work and the value of a career. He wanted to connect local company managers to all the job hunters who landed here in the SF Bay Area looking for a job, or who lived here and had to make a job change and needed to meet others in the Bay Area to help in the process of seeking jobs or changing careers.

The Job Finding Forum group was sponsored by the “Speakers Bureau”. Robert Ronald invited local business leaders, hiring managers, and personnel managers to meet with prospective job seekers. The emphasis for the meeting was a focus upon effective job search strategies and tactics. With this innovative first meeting, Mr. Ronald started what became The Job Forum. He established our guiding principles. These have been updated for a contemporary job search and yet still feature a person-to-person job search forum that meets weekly, with local business managers providing job coaching, meeting with job seekers around a conference table, with customized job search assistance for each individual seeking a professional position here in the SF Bay Area.

The Job Forum has continued to serve new immigrants to the SF Bay Area from 27 countries and all sorts of newly arrived job seekers from many cities in the USA. The Job Forum helps those who have experienced a dramatic disruption in their industry or company, are laid off, fall on hard times, or have insufficient job search skills or are experiencing special, sometimes discriminatory challenges, and need direct advice and customized help in order to build a network of contacts with local managers at businesses and nonprofit organizations.
The Job Forum volunteers are the local business and non profit managers who advise, redirect, counsel, and directly help and refer job hunters to opportunities so that job hunters can find work and careers in which they can survive and thrive here in the SF Bay Area.
This is a wonderful” full circle“,  starting from a young immigrant to the US, to 70 years of continuous work by volunteers, helping other job hunters! Robert Ronald, now in his 90’s, rightly calls it “his proudest legacy

The Job Forum is still affiliated and sponsored by the SF Chamber of Commerce.

Robert Ronald with Janet Beach (Chairman) in 2018. Robert Ronald wrote his story in Last Train to Freedom: A story of a Holocaust survivor’s travels to America.

Here is the original flyer for the Job Finding Forum at the San Francisco Jr Chamber of Commerce

To honor our founder and 70 years of The Job Forum we have established the Robert Ronald Job Forum Memorial Fund. Please help keep the Job Forum running – Donate.

Robert Ronald 1926 – 2022

To honor our founder and 70 years of The Job Forum we have established the Robert Ronald Job Forum Memorial Fund. Please help keep the Job Forum running – Donate.

Bill Cobaugh, Strategic leader, Past Chairman of the Job Forum

The continuity and valuable strategic and organizational structure of the Job Forum was assured through the guiding leadership of William Cobaugh who became Job Forum Chairman and stayed with it for 41 years. Bill was the Senior Personnel executive of Fireman’s Fund Co. Insurance (now Allianz). Bill served as the volunteer Chairman and managed and led The Job Forum by running most Wed evening meetings, recruiting other Job Forum panelists to join the organization and personally counseling and advising literally thousands of Bay Area job seekers. He expanded the basic Job Forum process and set up many of the procedures that we still use today. Bill recruited to the Job Forum many of the core volunteer panelists who have remained loyal and continued this valuable San Francisco community service.

Conley Baker, Past Chairman of the Job Forum

Conley Baker, a longtime volunteer on The Job Forum Panel and executive with The Employers Group, was asked by members of the Job Forum leadership team to become the Chairman of The Job Forum at the time of former Chairman, Bill Cobaugh’s passing in 1992. Conley was associated with The Job Forum for more than 25 years. Conley helped assure the continuation of this valuable SF Bay Area community service. He was assisted in providing leadership to The Job Forum by volunteers, Janet Beach and Joanne Auerbach.

Janet Beach, current Chairman of the Job Forum

In 1997, Janet Beach became Chairman and Executive Director of The Job Forum. Janet has been a longtime committed supporter of The Job Forum since 1980 when Bill Cobaugh asked her to join the Job Forum. She has continued to volunteer since 1980, providing effective job search coaching and non-profit organizational leadership. Throughout the years, Janet has also promoted The Job Forum through her best-selling book How to Get a Job in the San Francisco Bay Area (1983), via on-air radio interviews with Ronn Owens, by offering on-air help to job seekers, in networking with other job search organizations, through active recruitment to The Job Forum of San Francisco business managers to be Job Forum volunteer panelists, and through overall strategic management of The Job Forum. Janet has been supported in her role as Chairman of the Job Forum through the tireless dedication of many long-term Job Forum panelists, especially JoAnne Auerbach, Roger Brooks, Tom Toy, Brent Green, Penni Hudis, Renee Lorda, Jan Wilson, Kathy Knudsen, Bill Pollack and many more.