Brian Jackson Kahn was an insatiably curious citizen of the world. He worked to uplift the human condition. Brian died from a heart attack on October 29, while on a hunting trip with his wife, Sandra Dal Poggetto, in their adopted state of Montana. He was 73.
Kahn's passion for the natural world and his urge to bring people of varying viewpoints together around national and global issues fueled his many wide-ranging successes in a variety of public positions: boxing coach, environmental conservationist, candidate for Congress, mediation attorney, documentary filmmaker, author and journalist, radio broadcaster and youth advocate.
Kahn was born in Mount Kisco, New York, on January 22, 1947. He was the youngest son of Albert E Kahn, a noted author and American dissident and Harriet Kahn, a sculptor and author. Kahn spent his early years in Croton-on-Hudson, New York. He later moved with his family to Glen Ellen, CA. At the age of 13, he travelled to the Soviet Union with his family where his father was writing a book on Ulanova, the Prima Ballerina of the Bolshoi Ballet, while his mother was sculpting her. During their year there, Brian learned to speak Russian. Afterwards, they returned to Glen Ellen. He graduated from Sonoma Valley High School, the University of California—Berkeley, and then its law school.
Upon graduating from law school and serving as a legislative aide, he returned to Sonoma County and served two terms on the Sonoma County Board of Supervisors. He was later appointed to the California Fish and Game Commission where he was elected president. He played a significant role in restoring the almost extinct California Condor. He also produced an acclaimed documentary, “Return of the Desert Big Horn.” Then he traveled several times to the Soviet Union to research and film “A Thousand Cranes,” an award-winning documentary on international efforts to save the Siberian Crane. During this period, Kahn was appointed to the California Board of Corrections by Governor Jerry Brown.
In 1982, Kahn married his beloved Sandra. They moved to Helena, Montana, in 1989, where Kahn became director of the Montana Nature Conservancy for 6 years and Sandra continued her career as a fine arts painter. They lived in Helena for the rest of his life, often visiting their small cabin near West Yellowstone. Kahn founded his nonprofit organization, Artemis Wildlife Foundation. Artemis became the umbrella organization for the public radio show, Home Ground Radio, a half-hour public affairs program with topics ranging from the environment to the politics of Montana and the rural West. Launched in 1996, it aired on more than 30 public and private radio stations in the Rocky Mountain West. The Montana Broadcasters Association named it as the state's Outstanding Non-commercial Radio Program in 2002. The archive contains over 1,000 hours of interviews in the course of 24 years.
Two other nonprofits he created are “Friends of Francis”(Pope Francis) a global initiative focusing on creating a better world, and “American Jobs for America's Youth,” striving to foster life and work skills in young people through collaboration with community members and organizations.
Kahn also helped initiate a program designed to bring together ranching families and environmentalists. He was a key facilitator with the Madison Valley Ranchland Group, working to protect the ranching way of life while recognizing the need for biologically healthy open spaces. In 2006 Kahn was instrumental in creating the Montana Forest Network and served on its Advisory Committee. And in 2009, he received the Montana Governor's Award for the Humanities.
Kahn authored the following books, focusing primarily on the environment/ the natural world and politics:
• The Streamside Flyfisher's Guide, with Max Hale (Baetis Press, 1981).
• Seasons of the Hunter, Robert Elman, editor. Contributing author. (A. Knopf, N.Y. 1985).
• Parting With Illusions, by Vladimir Pozner (Atlantic Monthly Press, N.Y. 1990) collaborator.
• Training People, by Tess of Helena (Chronicle Books, San Francisco, 2007)
• America, One Story High, with Vladimir Pozner, (Zebra E, Moscow, 2008)
• Real Common Sense (Seven Stories Press, N.Y. 2011)
• Huffington Post blog, 2012–present
• Rediscovering My Country (Social Sciences Editorial, Havana, Cuba, 2015)
• Rediscovering America: a 21st C. journey (Drumlummon Institute, 2019
Kahn is survived by his wife Sandra Dal Poggetto, his sons Dylan Pembroke Kahn and Brice Wells Kahn, his brothers Steve and Tim Kahn and their wives, one grandson, Brett Kahn, and many nieces and nephews.
Donations in Brian's name can be made to AJAY Montana—a community-led collaboration to build American jobs for America's youth https:/www.americanjobs4youth.org.