League members, new and old, gathered with friends and supporters at our annual Gala on Thursday evening, February 9, 2012, to celebrate five distinguished “Women Who Could Be President.” The Mistress of Ceremonies (and former Women Who Could Be President Honoree) news anchor Cheryl Jennings kicked off the evening by introducing Karen Clopton, immediate past President of the League, and the woman responsible for bringing us the Gala for the past six years. “This award champions women working in all aspects of civic life who have the will, drive, and vision to create better communities,” Ms. Clopton stated. Hala Hijazi, the Event Chair and a 2011 recipient of the Rising Star Award, took the podium to declare, “Our honorees this year are stellar communicators and leaders.” Current League President, Tricia McGovern, also stated words of welcome and congratulations, before Ms. Jennings commenced handing out the awards.
This year’s five recipients of the Women Who Could Be President honor were united in their accomplishments and their graciousness. First to be honored was Rachelle Chong, the Regional Vice President of Government Affairs for California for Comcast, and formerly a Commissioner of the Federal Communications Commission and Commissioner of the California Public Utilities Commission. Ms. Chong applauded her daughters, both present, to demonstrate that due to the accomplishments of today’s women, the next generation will face a world where they perceive no limits to their potential. Mary Huss, an editor with over 25 years of experience and currently publisher of the San Francisco Business Times, accepted the second award with great humility. The third honoree of the evening, María Antonieta Mejía, is the Managing editor of El Mensajero newspaper, the largest Spanish-language weekly in the San Francisco Bay Area. Ms. Mejia got a laugh when she shared that “Women Who Could Be President” is an award that is tricky to explain to your friends, and drew the audience’s attention to the fact that woman indeed already serve as the top leaders in other countries, particularly in South America. Pam Moore, an Emmy-award winning journalist and anchor for KRON4 News, accepted her award with humor and poise, emphasizing how as she has aged she has increasingly focused on everything in her life for which she is grateful. The final honoree, Janet Reilly, is President of the Board of Directors of the Golden Gate Bridge, Highway and Transportation District. Ms. Reilly stated that this award is meaningful for her because the League bestowed it, and called the audience’s attention to the fact that although women do not run for elected office with the frequency of men, they do win at a proportional rate – so it is essential to encourage women to run!
After each recipient had been honored, Karen Clopton took the opportunity to acknowledge those past honorees who had returned in support of the League and the significance of the Gala. Among these were, in addition to our Mistress of Ceremonies, Cheryl Jennings, Elmy Bermejo, in from Washington D.C., where she serves in the Department of Labor as the Director of Intergovernmental Affairs, as well as Linda Crayton, Julie Castro Abrams, Lynn Bunim, and Barbara Rodgers – who was among the very first recipients of the award in 1992! President Tricia McGovern reflected that one of the things that make the League so special is that League leaders, including current and past honorees as well as members, defy stereotypes. “Powerful women have a stigma of being cold,” she said. “But it is just not true with this group of women. They are so warm-hearted.” The evening closed as Sarah Meakin, a talented contralto, took the podium to sing, as tradition dictated, Happy Birthday to the League, and all happily indulged in a champagne toast and delicious birthday cake. The 2012 Gala was a great celebration of women, their accomplishments, and the continued role that the League plays in reinforcing their potential. The League thanks all of the members and friends who joined us for a truly inspiring evening!
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