Past Presidents

Meet the CWL Past Presidents

CWL gratefully acknowledges its Past Presidents who have inspired, maintained and led CWL for the past 30 years. Here, each CWL Past President discusses the accomplishments of her Presidency. We thank each woman below for her contributions, accomplishments, love and leadership.

  • Wendy Behan

  • Neda Mansoorian

  • Eliza Rodrigues

  • Patricia Sturdevant

  • Jennifer Webber

  • Nancy E. O'Malley

  • Jean Pledger

    2008-2009 During my year as President, I wanted to get back to our “grass roots” beginning. To create enthusiasm, we made a concerted effort to include our members in CWL activities by having them become more active on CWL’s committees and engaging their help in our numerous events. We started our year with a very successful Annual Dinner and the first ever male keynote speaker, California Supreme Court Chief Justice Ronald M. George. Chief Justice George has remained an advocate for CWL and we believed that it was fitting that he be the first male keynote speaker. We continued our year with many “So, You Want to Be a Judge?”® seminars in which many of our members actively participated on the panels. Our members continued their active roles on our board, partnering with CWL board members to evaluate numerous judicial candidates. We held an Affiliate Conference in Halfmoon Bay in which dozens of our members participated, gaining insight from one another and the speakers into how to effectively market oneself in a downturn economy. Finally, the icing on the cake was when we nominated CWL’s “So, You Want to be a Judge?” ® seminar for the National Conference of Women’s Bar Associations’ 2009 Annual Outstanding Member Program AND WON!
  • Karen Goodman

    2007-2008 CWL members made sure that “our voice counts” in the courtrooms, boardrooms and the State Capitol. CWL took the lead in advocating for a transparent judicial selection process including assistance in promoting the passage of California legislation to uncloak the identity of members of the Governor’s advisory committees. We filed an amicus brief promoting the civil rights concerns of gay and lesbians in advocating in favor of same sex marriages, subsequently approved by the California Supreme Court. CWL instituted its Annual Conference which provided a great opportunity for members to be called to action on such important issues as parental notification and diversity in the profession and to exchange success stories of our members across the state. CWL increased its critical relationships with its affiliates as well as with women’s bar associations across the Country. CWL launched its interactive web site which features a “member only” area to enhance networking opportunities. As a result of CWL’s greater visibility, the organization experienced a substantial increase in its membership and a greater commitment amongst its members.
  • Angela J. Davis

    2006-2007 We kicked off the year with award-winning NPR journalist Susan Stamberg and Genocide Intervention Network founder Mark Hanis, who were featured at our installation dinner, launched a women's health focus group and a work/life balance study group, and continued our longstanding commitments to mentoring, supporting the judiciary, and professional development.
  • Pearl Gondrella Mann

    2005-2006 The year began on a high note with the inspiring, entertaining speeches at our dinner by Ninth Circuit Chief Judge Mary Schroeder who told us how far women have come and how to go farther in our profession and by the fiery Lilia Velasquez, Fay Stender Award recipient and advocate for exploited disadvantaged women. The emphasis for my term was on outreach. CWL established a statewide mentoring network, instituted a community service committee, and offered free online memberships to new admittees. We reached out to communities statewide from San Diego to Napa and Riverside to San Luis Obispo with programs on work life balance, gender bias, sexual harassment, breaking the glass ceiling, and the judicial appointment process.
  • Hon. Marguerite D. Downing

    2004-2005 My major goal as President was to work on increasing membership benefits to our individual members and to our affiliate organizations. Thus, during my term as President, CWL unveiled our very-much-in-demand traveling MCLE program, Gender Bias Lessons from the Silver Screen: The CWL Roadshow; strengthened our working relationship with the Governor's Judicial Appointment Advisor; held So, You Want to be a Judge? seminars in Fresno and San Diego; held our Northern Judicial Reception in Sacramento for the first time; hosted a roundtable to discuss judicial appointments with the Governor's office in Sacramento for our affiliate organizations; sent a CWL envoy to South Africa as part of the People to People Program; traveled out to local affiliate bar organizations to meet & greet; and outreached to law schools to discuss networking and mentoring opportunities with CWL and the profession.
  • Candace Carroll

    2003-2004 During my term as President, we held our annual Southern California Judicial Reception in San Diego for the first time; sent a CWL delegation to the March for Women's Lives in Washington, D.C.; initiated a relationship with California's new Governor's staff, which led to the participation of the new Judicial Appointments Advisor in our "So, You Want To Be a Judge?" seminars; sent a CWL Special Envoy to the Women Trafficking and Child Labor Eradication Foundation Conference in Nigeria; received the Women Lawyers Association of Los Angeles' Myra Bradwell Award for excellence in promoting and advancing women lawyers; and redesigned our website, adding the capacity to receive membership renewals and sell tickets to events online.
  • Andrea Carlise

    2002-2003 Throughout my term CWL continued to seek gender equity in the profession, on the bench, and in society. Our most notable endeavors included: seeking to extend the commitments adopted by the San Francisco legal community to break the glass ceiling statewide; adopting a formal policy by which CWL could vote to oppose nominees to the federal courts, and using that policy to oppose several Bush Administration candidates during Senate confirmation hearings; and co-sponsoring legislation to provide comprehensive, medically accurate sex education to California's school children.
  • Belynda Reck

    2001-2002 Attorney General Janet Reno began my year with her rousing speech before a sold-out Annual Dinner audience which repeatedly interrupted her with standing ovations. Also in my year, CWL met with the Governor's Office to discuss increasing the number of women on California's bench; co-sponsored two lobby days which brought hundreds of women to Sacramento to lobby legislators about our priorities; joined as an amicus in the California Supreme Court in Catholic Charities of Sacramento v. Superior Court, which established that church-affiliated employers may not exclude coverage for prescription contraceptives from prescription drug coverage offered their employees; presented our signature "So, You Want To Be Judge?" seminar in Sacramento; and established an International Committee to address international issues of concern to women lawyers.
  • Carol Copsey

    2000-2001 During my term as President, we met with the California Governor's staff to press for the appointment of more women judges; proudly awarded CWL's first Justice Rose Bird Memorial Award to California Supreme Court Justice Joyce Kennard; welcomed new voting affiliate members to our Board, including the Asian Pacific American Women Lawyers Alliance and Ventura County Women Lawyers; and launched our website,
  • Nancy Hoffmeier Zamora

    1999-2000 U.S. Senator Dianne Feinstein kicked off the year with a rousing keynote speech that received a standing ovation at the annual dinner. We cut costs, increased membership, and walked the halls of Sacramento, leaving CWL a little stronger for the next team. We put together some dynamic conferences and a series of judicial seminars in our relentless push for the appointment of more women judges.
  • Gillian M. Ross

    1998-1999 We presented a series of Business Development Conferences throughout the State, where accomplished women rainmakers shared their skills to help our members become more successful business persons, not just good lawyers.
  • Grace Emery

    1997-1998 We established a statewide electronic legislative network to support our Sacramento lobbying efforts, and for the first time hosted a judicial reception in conjunction with the annual meeting of the California Judges Association.
  • Vivian Kral

    1996-1997 My year was a year of research and writing. We conducted a survey of part-time attorneys in California and published the results and, in conjunction with CWL's Educational Foundation, CWL commissioned the writing of a Manual on Domestic Violence, covering civil, criminal and social aspects of domestic violence.
  • E. Jean Gary

    1995-1996 It was the best of times: a year of coalition building with other organizations representing the interest of women and minorities; it was the worst of times: despite our valiant effort, Proposition 209 passed.
  • Dawn M. Schock

    1994-1995 My presidency was devoted to continuing CWL's national and international presence through participation in the United Nations' World Conference on Women, the parallel conference for non-governmental organizations in China and in the resulting Women's Conference Circle hosted by the White House.
  • Lisa E. Brandon

    1993-1994 During my term, CWL participated in review of and comment on the Clinton Medical Insurance Reform proposal, we began the Professional Network Directory, and our membership grew to 5,000.
  • Angela M. Bradstreet

    1992-1993 I was the only Bar President to testify at the U.S. Senate hearing on Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg's confirmation as the second woman Associate Justice of the United States Supreme Court.
  • Anne D. McGowan

    1991-1992 What I remember is working with an independent board of women lawyers whose successful campaign for an ABA pro choice policy not only empowered ABA lobbying and amicus briefs on abortion rights, but also significantly swelled the membership and coffers of CWL with women lawyers seeking an effective voice for reproductive rights.
  • Doris Coleman

    1990-1991 In furtherance of protecting the rights of women and minorities, I testified at the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee hearings on the nomination of Justice David Souter and urged that, in making its decision, the Senate keep women's issues foremost in its mind.
  • The Hon. Marjorie Laird Carter

    1989-1990 During my term as President, statistics comparing the number of women in law to the number of women appointed to the bench by the last four governors were compiled and published to raise awareness of the absence of women on the bench; lobbying continued to protect women's reproductive rights.
  • Janice Kamenir-Reznik

    1988-1989 During my year, the first woman, Justice Joyce Kennard, was appointed to the California Supreme Court; I believe that CWL's advocacy work contributed to her appointment.
  • Pauline A. Weaver

    1987-1988 During my presidency, our membership jumped significantly, and we networked with a number of other organizations. We also survived a disastrous annual dinner at which one of the award presenters spoke longer than our keynote speaker, Bella Abzug!
  • Patricia A. Shiu

    1986-1987 A big priority during my term was our persuading the State Franchise Tax Board, then headed by Gray Davis, to prohibit tax deductions for membership costs incurred at discriminatory clubs.
  • Pamela J. Jester

    1985-1986 During the 1986 Supreme Court retention election, CWL conducted a public education campaign concerning the importance of an independent judiciary.
  • The Hon. Meredith C. Taylor

    1984-1985 During my year, we began the "So, You Want to be a Judge" programs, and CWL urged that the California Association of Judges adopt an ethical rule against membership in discriminatory clubs.
  • Christine Curtis

    1983-1984 I wanted to facilitate the expansion of CWL to issues affecting all women, and not just women attorneys, and to national forums as well as bar associations in California, in a variety of ways, including filing amicus briefs in the California and U.S. Supreme Courts; lobbying for and against legislation at state and federal levels; successfully urging the State Bar to create a Women in the Law Committee; and increasing our presence in Sacramento.
  • Susan R. Stockel

    1982-1983 During my term we opened our first office in Sacramento and hired our first executive director/lobbyist, enabling us to make the leap from grassroots organization to a statewide professional association.
  • Eileen Cochran

    1981-1982 (deceased) Photo not available.
  • Marjorie Randolph

    1980-1981 I wanted to work on the appointment of more women judges and establishing a connection with local women's bar groups.
  • The Hon. Barbara T. Gamer, retired

    1979-1980 The CWL Board started the process of coordinating feminist bar associations within the state to strengthen us and make our voices better head in Sacramento.
  • The Hon. Isabel R. Cohen

    1979, resigned December 1979 when appointed to the bench We first became a confederacy of local women's bar associations, and the JNE Commission of the State Bar came into being, reflecting the societal cross-section (race, ethnicity and gender) for which we had lobbied.
  • Melodie M. Kleiman

    1978-1979 I wanted to significantly increase the number of women on the state and federal bench and integrate women into leadership roles in the State Bar and the ABA.
  • The Hon. Louise H. Renne

    1977-1978 I am proud that organizing women lawyers in California in the early 1970's led to the founding of California Women Lawyers. As a result of CWL, more women have been appointed to the bench and to decision-making positions in government. We are all proud that CWL has grown in membership and support of each other in the legal profession over the last twenty-five years.
  • The Hon. Barbara Barnhouse Johnson

    1976-1977 "My goal was seeking and accomplishing the appointment and elevation of more women judges."
  • Judith G. McKelvey

    1975-1976 Picture not available.
  • Justice Joan Dempsey Klein, Provisional President

    1975 "It was my job to facilitate the organization of the newly formed statewide CWL and to suggest directions for CWL's future."
  • The Hon. Roberta Ralph, Retired, Co-Chair, Organizing Committee

    1974 "I chaired a committee dedicated to the betterment of the rights of women, and we held a Constitutional Convention to organize women lawyers on a statewide basis in order to further the goal of equal rights for all women."
  • Joanne M. Garvey, Co-Chair, Organizing Committee

    1974 "As first co-chair (with Roberta Ralph), I organized the statewide network and conference that resulted in the formation of CWL."