Hall of Fame

The California Women Lead Hall of Fame

In 1974, a new organization called CEWAER (now CA Women Lead) was created and was the first of its kind nationwide. The need for a new organization had seemed apparent for a long time, partly because of the general dissatisfaction with the male power structure, the disproportionate number of elected women and the sense of aloneness felt by women who are elected and then must function in an isolated situation. Many women felt that elected women were more than role models, that they could use their influence and clout to help the aspirations of all women. And women recognized that they needed supporters, buddies, and a communication network – in other words, the counterpart to the “old boys club”.

Today, under-representation continues and women in California have not achieved parity. So our work continues. California Women Lead boosts nine chapters, hosts training events throughout the state and has encouraged thousands of women to successfully run for office or apply for an appointment at the state or local level. California Women Lead remains the only statewide, non partisan women’s organization in the state committed to providing women the training and support they need to be successful in the political arena.

CA Women Lead/CEWAER is successful today because of the remarkable women who have left their mark on the organization, women who not only believe in the mission, but live it.

The CA Women Lead State Board of Directors is proud to announce the beginning of our “Women’s Hall of Fame” to recognize women who have and continue to be trailblazers for women, women who not only inspire, but work to help other women be successful.

Hall of Fame Inductees

Inducted in 2010

In 2005, Muriel Johnson was appointed Director of the California Arts Council by Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger. A Sacramento resident since 1962, she was elected to the Sacramento County Board of Supervisors in 1992. Muriel was elected 2002 President of the California State Association of Counties (CSAC) and served twelve years on the CSAC Board of Directors. She also served as 2002 Chair of the Sacramento Area Council of Governments. For 11 years, she was the Governor’s appointee to the Capitol Area Committee. Muriel was the 1998-99 President of the California Elected Women’s Association for Education and Research (now CA Women Lead).

While Muriel served on the Sacramento Board of Supervisors, she was an advocate for appointing women to boards and commissions. Often, Muriel would seek out women and ask them to apply. She was famous for saying “When you appoint a woman to a board of commission they always rise to the top and end of running the board. ”

Muriel was part of the “Legacy of the Third District. ” When Muriel was elected to that seat in 1992, she replaced Sandy Smoley (also a 2010 Hall of Fame Recipient). Because of Sandy’s example, Muriel recruited and supported a fellow woman, current Supervisor Susan Peters, to run and win continuing the tradition that is CA Women Lead’s mission – it is not only important to get women to run for office or apply for an appointment, it is equally important that when women are in positions to provide opportunities for other women to be leaders.

Inducted in 2010

Community leader and women’s advocate, Susan Rose knows how to make a difference. Susan recently served two terms as a member of the Santa Barbara County Board of Supervisors. Prior to that she held executive positions in city and county government and directed a local non-profit agency. Susan served as the appointed Executive Director of the Los Angeles City Commission on the Status of Women and lead legislative advocacy, educational conferences, and multi-lingual publications providing resource information about services for women.

In 1988, she was a founding member of the Santa Barbara Women’s Political Committee and recently served on the State Board of Directors for California Women Lead. Over the years, Susan has helped lead trainings on applying for boards and commissions, writing campaign plans, grassroots organizing, fundraising techniques and policy development.

When Susan made the decision to retire from the Board of Supervisors, she would only do so when she found a woman to take her place. Susan recruited a woman candidate, provided resources and advice and worked tirelessly on a well fought campaign to help get her candidate elected. Susan leads by example the mission of CA Women Lead – ENGAGE, EMPOWER, ELECT.

Inducted in 2010

Sandy Smoley has been a trailblazer for women throughout California. Under Governor Pete Wilson, Sandy served as the secretary of the California Health and Welfare Agency and secretary of the State and Consumer Services Agency.

In 1972, Smoley was elected to the Sacramento County Board of Supervisors, the first woman ever to serve on that body. She served more than 20 years on the board. She has been a presidential appointee to three major commissions: the Advisory Commission on Intergovernmental Relations (1983-1991), the Task Force on Food Assistance (1983-84), and the Advisory Commission on Federalism (1981-82). She represented county government at both the state and national capitols as president of the California State Association of Counties and the National Association of Counties.

Sandy has always been a supporter of women in leadership and has quietly been an advocate for women in elected office for her entire career. When Sandy decided it was time to move on from the Sacramento County Board of Supervisors she recruited her friend Muriel Johnson to run. She was at Muriel’s disposal in terms of advice and support and began the legacy of the third district. Since Sandy’s election to the seat in 1972, the third district has been represented by a woman – almost 40 years!! Sandy is a trailblazer – a woman who’s career both in elected and appointed and her commitment to empowering other women to be leaders is an inspiration.

Inducted in 2011

Helen began her public service career in 1974 when she was elected as a member of the Davis Joint Unified School District Board of Education and where she served 3 terms. She was elected to the Yolo County Board of Supervisors in 1986 and re-elected in 1990 and 1994. In 1996 she won the 8th District seat in the California State Assembly where she served three terms.

As a Legislator, Helen chaired both the Health Committee and the Select Committee on Mental Health and served on the leadership teams of four Speakers, including as Majority Floor Whip and Assistant Speaker Pro Tem. In 2002, when her assembly term ended, Helen was again elected to the Yolo County Board of Supervisors and re-elected without opposition in June 2006. She retired at the end of her term in December 2010.

Helen has served on a variety of local and statewide boards, including President of California Women Lead (formerly CEWAER) and First Vice President of the California State Association of Counties (CSAC).

Helen is a registered nurse, the mother of three grown children, and the proud grandmother of four. She lives in Davis with her husband, Captane P. Thomson, M.D., a practicing psychiatrist.

Inducted in 2011

Barbara Patrick was elected to the position of Third District representative to the Kern County Board of Supervisors in 1994 and served as Chair of the Board in 1996 and 2001. In 1997, Barbara became the first Kern County elected official to receive a gubernatorial appointment to the California Air Resources Board. She holds a California Lifetime Teaching Credential in Elementary Education and taught in the Bakersfield City School District for 20 years.

Barbara has been a member of CA Women Lead member since 1988 and is the immediate past president of the State Board of Directors. Under her term, CA Women Lead expanded from two chapters to nine, tripled its statewide membership and expanded is reach not just throughout California, but started to develop a national reputation.

Barbara resides in Bakersfield and is an active member of the California Women Lead Kern County Chapter. She also divides her time between San Diego and Roseville for grandma duties.