Women's Foundation of California Names 20 Community Based Leaders as 2014-2015 Women's Policy Institute Fellows - Women's Foundation California

SAN FRANCISCO, Oct. 15, 2014 (PRNewswire-USNewswire)—The Women's Foundation of California announced today that 20 leading social justice advocates working within communities and nonprofits across the state have been chosen as 2014-15 Women's Policy Institute fellows. A groundbreaking program, the Women's Policy Institute brings women's voices, leadership and expertise to the state legislative process with the aim of increasing the number of policies that address the needs of low-income women and families.

“Everyone benefits when women have a voice in shaping and driving policy,” said Surina Khan, CEO of the Women's Foundation of California. “We need more women involved—as elected and appointed officials, as voters and as advocates—in influencing all aspects of the laws and policies that govern our lives. The Women's Policy Institute helps achieve lasting social change by empowering and equipping women to impact public policy and legislation, and I am thrilled to welcome this year's participants.”

See the list of the 2014-15 Women's Policy Institute fellows—who represent Alameda, Contra Costa, Solano, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Riverside, Orange and Sacramento counties.

More than 300 women have taken part in the Women's Policy Institute since it launched in 2003. Through the intensive, experiential yearlong training program, participants learn how to become effective policy advocates by articulating and shaping solutions to the challenges their communities face. To date, Women's Policy Institute fellows have contributed significantly to the passage of 23 laws that have strengthened communities and positively impacted the lives of tens of thousands of women and their families across California.

In 2014, Governor Jerry Brown signed three bills shaped by Women's Policy Institute fellows into law. Assembly Bill 2102 facilitates data collection on the language capability of physicians and dentists, along with other demographic information, to help create a workforce better equipped to meet the needs of California's diverse population. Assembly Bill 1579, known as the “Healthy Baby Act of 2014,” allows eligible pregnant women in their second trimester to receive CalWORKs assistance, replacing previous legislation limiting benefits to women in their third semester. Assembly Bill 420 bans the use of suspensions or expulsions of kindergarten through third-grade students for “willful defiance” in California public schools.

Participants gain expertise in relevant issues; learn about public policy; craft and present legislative testimony; build cross-movement coalitions; and frame issue messages for policymakers, the media and the general public. This year's fellows will focus on four issue areas—health, criminal justice, domestic violence and workforce development.

About the Women's Foundation of California:
The Women's Foundation of California is a publicly supported grant making foundation that invests in women as a key strategy for creating a California where all communities are economically secure and can thrive. Since 1979, the Foundation has awarded more than $35 million to 1200 community-based organizations in each region of the state. www.womensfoundca.org.

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