For the last seven years we’ve held our annual Legislative Reception in Sacramento, our state’s capital. This lively evening event is our way of celebrating the incredible work of our current and past Women’s Policy Institute fellows as well as an opportunity to build relationships with our state legislators.
What’s more, this year, we’re celebrating an important milestone: 10 remarkable years of the Women’s Policy Institute.
Every year, we honor three or four inspiring individuals during the Reception. This year we are honoring Women’s Policy Institute Director Marj Plumb, PhD, Assemblymember Holly Mitchell, Senator Mark Leno, and The California Endowment. To give you some context about our Women’s Policy Institute, the Legislative Reception and the people we will honor, we sat down with our President and CEO Judy Patrick and asked her three brief questions.
Question: Why did we choose to honor these three individuals and one organization on the 10th anniversary of the Women’s Policy Institute?
Judy Patrick: Of all the programmatic work that I have done over my lifetime, this is the one program that has completely blown my mind. It has phenomenal results and the reason that it has had phenomenal results is demonstrated in who we’re honoring this year.
We couldn’t have done this without people who invested money and trust in us and The California Endowment has invested more consistently in this program than anybody else.
We could not have done this without fabulous and consistent training and we couldn’t have done it without somebody who understands so well the needs of the fellows as well as the policy making process—that’s why we’re honoring Marj Plumb.
And to move anything in the Legislature, we have to have partners inside the Sacramento Capitol. And we have been blessed with fabulous partners over the years and two of them are Senator Mark Leno and Assemblywoman Holly Mitchell.
Senator Mark Leno took the risk in us as a very nascent program and authored the first piece of legislation that our fellows worked on (AB 1796). And Holly Mitchell has been a partner to us in the work that we’re doing as well as a champion of low-income women and families since the day she was elected.
Question: I see that Marj Plumb is receiving the Cindy Marano Leadership Award. What is the history behind the Cindy Marano Leadership Award?
Judy Patrick: Cindy Marano was one of the thought partners in the creation of the Women’s Policy Institute more than ten years ago. She came to California with decades of experience at the federal poverty level writing major pieces of national legislation that impacted the lives of women. She authored at least four federal laws, including the Nontraditional Employment for Women Act of 1992.
Ten years ago, as we began to look at what we really could do to create long term change for women and their families in our state, we got clear that policy was really the way to do it. So we hired Cindy to help the Foundation think about how we can make this change possible.
Cindy was the one who told us at the time: We don’t need another think tank. What we really need is an action tank. We need an organization that funds the work to change policy.
That was a breakthrough moment for us and we decided to launch the Women’s Policy Institute. Cindy was an early mentor in the program and the key thought leader in developing the early versions of the Institute. As a result, the Cindy Marano Leadership Award honors somebody who can lead policy change on behalf of women.
Last year we honored Mary Wiberg (former executive director of the California Commissions on the Status of Women) who has done just that, and this is certainly what Marj Plumb has done.
Question: Briefly, why are we choosing to honor an organization this year?
Judy Patrick: The California Endowment understands the needs of low income communities in California. Because of that, there has always been a lot of resonance between the work that we do on behalf of low-income women and their families and the priorities of the Endowment.
Plus they recognized from the very beginning that the Women’s Policy Institute was a groundbreaking program: from the very beginning they understood that having people impacted by the problem engaged in the policy making process was critical. And that’s what they funded us to do. And we’re very grateful for their vision and their support over the years.
Register to attend our Legislative Reception on May 14, 2013, at The Sterling Hotel in Sacramento