The Academy Team
Who We Are
Co-Founder (he / him)
Paul Miller grew up in the City’s Richmond District, and quickly found himself drawn to the excitement of the Castro. He moved to the neighborhood before enrolling in San Francisco State, working his way through school in what are now iconic neighborhood establishments like Headlines, The Detour, Lalo’s, The Red Grill, and Daddy’s. His experiences taught him valuable lessons about the importance of community.
His mantra has always been, “if you want to see it exist, then create it yourself.” Taking those words as his guide he created popular nightlife events and destinations including Truck
and Rebel. It has always been his belief that the local LGBTQ+ community lacked places to really connect with others outside of the bar setting. In 2017, he decided that needed to change, joining forces with co-founder Nate Bourg to create The Academy.
At The Academy today, Paul focuses on the history and cultural aspects of programming. He personally leads the historical walking tours, oversees the community courses program and spearheads community inclusion efforts that foster the connections he hoped to help create. “I have been thrilled with the community we have been able to build here,” he explains. “I think it is incredible that we have members that range in age from their 20s to 70s. Our goal is to be a gathering place where the wide variety of people that make San Francisco great can come together and do even greater things.”
Co-Founder (he / him)
Nate Bourg is a Bay Area native and San Francisco resident since 2009. A musician at heart, Nate obtained his degree in Digital Audio Technology from University of Silicon Valley, and spent a number of years involved in music education as a teacher, composer-arranger, and program director for numerous schools and organizations including the world-renowned Santa Clara Vanguard. He is also a founding board member and past president of NCPA, a nonprofit youth performance and educational association. Prior to The Academy, Nate worked in public relations and marketing at the San Francisco Symphony.
"I have always heard from teachers, friends, and relatives that I was sort of destined to be a connector of people, and that my ability to form a rapport - with an acquaintance, a new friend, or even the school bully (true story!) - would lead me down a special path. I think in many ways The Academy is the result of those formative experiences. Having a career that lets me engage with people and help them enrich their lives socially, and experientially, is a gift that I am extremely thankful for."
Nate has been an avid San Francisco Giants fan since birth, and in his spare time enjoys attending live performances, improvisational cooking, exploring Northern California, and taking long walks around the City.
Wine Director & Sommelier (he / him)
Michael Wells got his start in wine after moving to New York and starting work at City Winery, a winery, restaurant, and concert venue. During his five year tenure he pursued the Court of Master Sommeliers certification as well as interning for Wine & Spirits Magazine and leading Wine Tours for City Wine Tours. Despite being one of the youngest people in the certification program when he took the level 2 exam, Michael was the top scorer and also received the Walter Clore Award for excellence in wine.
After many years spent working the floor as a sommelier, one of Michael’s favorite parts of his job now is education; helping people discover new wines and feel confident in their selection, eliminating the pretension that has marked the wine industry for many years.
Michael's goal at The Academy is to share his passion and experience in the industry with Academy Members to create informed wine consumers. He aims to do this by offering wine programming that is engaging yet educational and curating a balanced wine list that offers both classics and hidden gems.
In addition to overseeing The Academy’s wine program, Michael also dances professionally for Diablo Ballet, where he debuted a new choreographic production in 2021.
Director of Club Services (she / her)
Kate Sautter is an East Coast transplant from Virginia and San Francisco resident since 2015 when she took the job as Director of Visitor Experience for the San Francisco Symphony at Davies Symphony Hall.
An event person at heart, Kate thrives on making order from chaos when it comes to designing processes and spaces that bring people together for a common goal (especially if that goal is having a good time). Kate has worked in the trenches producing live music, concert touring, professional sports, catering, entertainment, the wedding industry, and luxury fashion at Hermès (as an intern, and no, it's never coming off her resume). For home games, she side-hustles as a Courtside Lounge concierge for the Golden State Warriors at Chase Center in Dogpatch.
Kate is also the founder of Movemint, a personalized service company that plans, manages, and facilitates moves and downsizings for busy people the Bay Area. Kate also cares deeply about voting rights and equitable access to enfranchisement as a Polling Place Inspector for the City of San Francisco.
Administrative Assistant (she / her)
Jennifer Villamin joined The Academy in 2019 as their very first Administrative Assistant. She helps maintain consistency in the back end operational functions including, but not limited to, payments and invoices, membership database, and other vital administrative duties to help The Club run smoothly.
Jennifer also serves on the Club's Diversity, Equity, Inclusion & Advocacy (DEIA) Advisory Panel, and is excited to be a part of The Academy as it continues to grow and evolve post-pandemic.