The Commission on the Status of Women celebrated its 30th Annual Women’s Hall of Fame on Friday, March 21st at the San Mateo County History Museum with many honored guests and speakers and nearly 300 attendees.

This year’s inductees included United States Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor;  Dr. Faye Mc-Nair Knox – Executive Director of the One East Palo Alto Neighborhood Initiative; and Fatima Soares – Executive Director of Coastside Hope.

Nina Luo, a junior at Mills High School, became this year’s Young Woman of Excellence.

In addition to being honored, for this landmark thirtieth anniversary of the Hall of Fame, Justice O’Connor delivered a keynote address. She has fond memories of San Mateo County, which holds a special place in her professional history. Justice O’Connor noted that upon graduating from Stanford Law School in 1952, that she could not find a law firm willing to hire her as an attorney. She was offered secretarial jobs, but wanted to practice law. After convincing the County Attorney to hire her following a period of working as a volunteer, she worked for a year as a Deputy County Attorney in the very Courthouse where the event took place. This was the beginning of her very significant legal career, which culminated in her being the first woman appointed to the U.S. Supreme Court in 1981. After serving on the Supreme Court for 25 years, Justice O’Connor retired in 2006 and now hears federal appeals cases at different courts throughout the country.

Following a welcome by San Mateo County Board of Supervisors President, - Dave Pine, guests heard from Supervisor Carole Groom, the Board’s liaison to the Commission on the Status of Women.  Other honored speakers and presenters (in order of appearance) were Commission President Christine Padilla, Supervisor Warren Slocum, Supervisor Adrienne Tissier, and Congresswoman Anna Eshoo.

Honorees received resolutions in their honor from State Senator Jerry Hill, State Assemblymembers Rich Gordon and Kevin Mullin and as well as the San Mateo County Board of Supervisors Supervisors - all of whom were in attendance. Certificates of Appreciation were provided by both Congresswoman Anna Eshoo and Congresswoman Jackie Speier.

Guests were invited to explore the museum’s permanent Women’s Hall of Fame Exhibit, located in the Fogerty Gallery that has been updated with a timeline of women’s history in the U.S. and San Mateo County. Museum guests can search the electronic exhibit to view each of the 284 Hall of Fame honoree photos (240 women and 44 young women) and biographical statements as of the time of their induction.  The desk used by Justice O’Connor when she worked as Deputy County Attorney will be on display through September.

The induction ceremony took place for the first time in historic Courtroom A, and was simulcast to many more guests in the museum’s Atkinson room and Rotunda. The event and its honorees were a great testament to the power and influence of women in politics and non-profit work, as well as the many people that support them.  

By Jamie DuBose