League honors women in power 

This year will mark 90 years since women were granted the right to vote in the United States.

But advocates for women in power, such as Karen Valentia Clopton of the League of Women Voters of San Francisco, are quick to point out that even in liberal San Francisco, women are still a minority on the Board of Supervisors, on judicial benches and in the boardrooms of the tall buildings that make up The City’s famous skyline.

On Feb. 11, the League of Women Voters of San Francisco will honor five local women in leadership positions for their annual gala reception, “Women Who Could Be ­President.”

Clopton, who is president of the local league, reinstated the organization’s historic practice of an annual gala in 2008, when Hillary Clinton appeared poised to possibly become the first woman to take the nation’s helm.

Though Clinton lost the primary election, the organization decided it was important to continue the gala and the theme.

“I think there’s a misperception today that women no longer need reward or incentive for looking and going beyond the box,” Clopton said. “It’s important to honor women who are leaders in the community in order to encourage new generations of women, especially young women and girls, to be strong and be community leaders and know, yes, other people have done it, but you can do it too — you can surpass everything we have already done.”

Among the women being honored is Yolanda Jackson, who serves as deputy executive director and diversity director of the Bar Association of San Francisco. Her career has taken several turns — “I could not have scripted it,” she says — but her current position allows her to directly address the bias that exists in the legal world.

She noted that in the law profession, while there are almost an equal number of male and female graduates of law schools, women only make up 10 to 20 percent of partners within firms and less than 5 percent of executive committee members within law firms.

Another honoree is Lynn Bunim, the executive director for external affairs at AT&T who directs community and government relations for the company. She said she is honored and “a little bit daunted to be joining the company of so many mentors of mine.” She said she has found great fulfillment in using her position in the corporate world and leveraging it to help the many nonprofits she has served.

“I recently had the privilege of reading Nancy Pelosi’s book, and one of the things she says at the end is ‘Know thy power.’ It was addressed at women who reach powerful positions, to encourage them to know their power and know their place and be able to make progress on issues,” she said.

The three other women are Anne Wilson, Pamela Joyner and Kate Kendell.

Wilson is the first woman chief executive officer of the United Way of the Bay Area. Joyner is the managing partner and founder of Avid Partners and has more than 25 years in the investment industry.

Kendell leads the National Center for Lesbian Rights, a national legal organization committed to advancing the legal and human rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people and their families through litigation, public policy advocacy and public education.

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