Congratulations to the 2013 CEDAW Women's Human Rights Awardees!

Click here to view photos of the CEDAW Awards

AKIKO YAMAZAKI, Foundation President & Vice Chair Of The Commission, Asian Art Museum, San Francisco
Foundation President &
Vice Chair of the Commission
Asian Art Museum, San Francisco

CEDAW Award for Philanthropy

Born in Costa Rica and raised by Japanese parents who believed strongly in the value of education, Akiko Yamazaki graduated from Stanford University and is fluent in Japanese, Spanish and English. Akiko comfortably fits in diverse cultures that have comprised her life, crediting her mother for shaping her outlook on life and way of living: follow your passions, set no limits, be compassionate and live responsibly.

Akiko and her husband, Jerry Yang, have been active supporters of their alma mater, serving as co-chairs of the $1B Campaign for Undergraduate Education. For the $4B Stanford Challenge, Akiko and Jerry provided the naming gift for the Yang Yamazaki Energy and Environment Building, which set the standard for interdisciplinary problem solving and building resource use (Platinum LEED) at Stanford.

Akiko is the Vice Chair of the Commission of the San Francisco Asian Art Museum and President of its Foundation. The museum’s collection, owned by the City of San Francisco, is one of its most valuable assets, comprised of more than 18,000 objects spanning 6000 years of history. As a trustee of the Foundation since 1997, Akiko has played a major role in the museum’s growth, serving leadership roles in the development of its Strategic Directions Plan, Strategic Long-range Plan, Branding Study, and the museum’s first Business Plan. Ending its last fiscal year with the second highest attendance figure since moving to the Civic Center with nearly 500,000 visitors, the museum’s Education Programs also served more than 6000 school children in the SF Bay Area.

In 2001, Akiko co-founded the Wildlife Conservation Network (WCN) to support field conservationists around the world working with local communities on innovative solutions to co-exist with endangered species. In the last decade, the organization has grown to support 30 conservationists working in 20 countries. Held for the last several years in San Francisco, the annual WCN Expo weekend is now an event that draws over 1000 people in attendance.

As an avid horsewoman and competitive dressage rider, Akiko inherited her passion for horses from her mother. This equestrian sport is one of the few Olympic disciplines in which men and women compete on equal footing. An active supporter of the US Equestrian Team as a sponsor for Steffen Peters, since 2004 Akiko has been one of the top US riders on multiple horses.

Most recently, Akiko’s horse “Ravel” and Steffen represented the United States in both the Beijing and London Olympics and were the top US horse and rider combination in dressage through Ravel’s 5-year competitive career with Steffen. Akiko serves on the US Equestrian Team Foundation and is also a member of the US Equestrian Federations’ Owner’s Task Force and High Performance Dressage Committee.

Akiko and Jerry have two daughters who have followed their equestrian passions and love of art.

BRENDA WRIGHT, Senior Vice President & Manager, Community Relations West, Wells Fargo Bank
Senior Vice President & Manager Community Relations West
Wells Fargo Bank

CEDAW Award for Economic Empowerment

Brenda oversees the development and implementation of community development and philanthropy strategies and programs supporting economic development for housing, workforce development and small business for Wells Fargo. Wright is an active leader and founding member of many community- based organizations and committees through the San Francisco Bay Area, and she has been active with organizations that champion the rights of women and girls.

Working with the National Coalition of 100 Black Women, Oakland Bay Area Chapter, she participated in the Positive Steps mentoring program for teenage girls; was instrumental in supporting the Working Woman’s Scholarship, which is given to a working woman who is continuing her education; and championed the “Sistah’s getting Real About HIV/AIDS” billboard campaign to raise awareness among Afircan American females about the importance of being tested and knowing their status.

Wright was also an early supporter of La Cocina (“the Kitchen,”in Spanish), which is an nonprofit business incubator that helps entreprenuers – most of them, women –make the transition from selling food from their homes or on the streets to formalizing and growing their business and contributing to a vibrant, local economy.

Through Wright’s leadership, Wells Fargo provided a below-market rate load of $500,000 to renovate La Cocina’s facility from a house to a commercial kitchen. As the organization grew, Wells Fargo arranged another $500,000 loan to expand capacity and purchase commercial equipment. The company also has provided $300,000 in financial assistance.

Other organizations that Wright has supported include Gum Moom Women’s Residence and the Asian Women’s Resource Center and the National Association of Women Business Owners, San Francisco Chapter.

Wright serves on the Board of the Women’s Foundation of California, is an Emeritus Board Member and Advisor for the Museum of the African Diaspora, and Governor-appointed member of the California for the Humanities Council.

CASSIE DOYLE, Consul General Consulate General of Canada San Francisco and Silicon Valley
Consul General
Consulate General of Canada
San Francisco and Silicon Valley

CEDAW for International Comity 

Cassie Doyle has served as Canada’s first woman Consul General in San Francisco since 2011. Having been inspired by the APEC Women and the Economy Summit, Cassie developed the TechWomen Canada program to connect Canadian women entrepreneurs with the Silicon Valley.

A native of Vancouver, Canada, Cassie was raised in a large family with 7 sisters who, at an early age, helped her develop a passion for advancing women’s rights. Cassie began her professional career with the City of Ottawa where she spearheaded numerous community housing projects for women and their families.

Cassie has a distinguished public service career, having served at the executive level of all three orders of government including as Deputy Minister with both the government of Canada and the government of British Columbia. Throughout her career, Cassie has been an advocate of women’s leadership and has developed numerous programs to advance women’s opportunities in the public service.

In 2009 she received the Leadership and Partnership Award from the National Council on Visible Minorities for her efforts in expanding opportunities for visible minority women in public service.

From 2006 to 2010 Cassie served as Canada’s Deputy Minister of Natural Resources, after three years as the Associate Deputy Minister of Environment Canada and a member of the Board of Directors for the Atomic Energy Corporation of Canada.

Prior to joining the federal government in 2002, Cassie held senior positions with the British Columbia government including CEO of the BC Assets and Land Corporation, Deputy Minister of Environment, Lands and Parks, and Deputy Minister of Housing, Recreation and Consumer Services.

Cassie served as the Chair of Oxfam Canada, the Chair of the 2010 Community Campaign and was a member of the Board of Directors of the Ottawa United Way. Currently serving on the Board of the United Way Bay Area (UWBA), Cassie is a member of the UWBA Women’s Leadership Council.

Cassie holds a Master’s degree from Carleton University in Ottawa and wrote her thesis on women and housing based on primary research that revealed the dire situation facing women in the housing market.

LOUISE RENNE, ESQUIRE, Founding Partner Renne, Sloan, Holtzman & Sakai
Founding Partner
Renne, Sloan, Holtzman & Sakai

CEDAW Award for Law 

Louise Renne is a founding partner of Renne, Sloan, Holtzman & Sakai, representing public agencies and non-profits. She previously served as the first woman San Francisco City Attorney where she pioneered an affirmative litigation program that won significant victories for consumers and taxpayers in San Francisco and California.

Prior to that she served on the Board of Supervisors. Louise has also served as General Counsel for the San Francisco Unified School District and the City of Richmond.

Throughout her career, Louise has been a champion for women. Among other accomplishments, she helped found California Women Lawyers of which she became President; established a child-care program for City employees; and sued the Olympic Club to open its doors to women and persons of color. She also helped to re-build Laguna Honda Hospital.

Today, Louise continues to work with “at-risk” youth as Board Chair of Allies United for Children.

MARILYN FOWLER, CEO, Women’s Intercultural Network
Women’s Intercultural Network

CEDAW for Community Building

Marilyn is the Founder/President/CEO of Women’s Intercultural Network (WIN), a non-governmental organization consultative to the United Nations. Her community organizing is local and global, convening California Women’s Agenda (CAWA), the largest state women’s action network; US Women Connect (USWC) national action network; and WIN’s Calling the Circle initiative in Afghanistan, Japan, Uganda, and beyond. Wherever marginalized women ask for a voice, Marilyn convenes women’s alliances to link them as ‘nodes’ into a ‘web’ of women’s voices for action.

Community organizing is Marilyn’s life work. In Kansas City, MO as a single mom, she raised 3 sons and earned an MPA in Organizational Development while working at the KC Urban League with the first Teen Pregnancy program. She organized a Community Advisory Committee for Planned Parenthood (PPKC) and the first Public Affairs Committee for Planned Parenthood Federation of America, representing PPFA at the First UN Conference on Women in Mexico City in 1975. Today she accompanies delegations to the United Nations Commission on Women and organizes forums at the annual UN CSW.

Marilyn’s social justice work began in the 1960s, linking PPKC to the Urban League, insuring all women had equal access to birth control. As Executive Director of the San Diego World Affairs Council in the 1980s, Marilyn formed the International Women’s Advisory Council to involve women and ethnic communities in foreign policy. That Council became the base for WIN’s incorporation in San Francisco in 1994. The policy mechanisms created out of that body of work have impacted California and the US on other progressive issues: green economics, gay marriage, elimination of poverty and racism, healthy families and CEDAW implementation.

As an architect for implementing the Beijing Platform for Action (BPFA) through CAWA and USWC, Marilyn designed the infrastructure for the 12 critical concerns. She created the concept of organizing ‘on the ground and on the internet’ forming WIN, CAWA, and USWC as progressive “networks that organize, not organizations that network.”

As an advocate for women’s voices in public forums, Marilyn created “Calling the Circle,” leading delegations to and from Africa, Asia and the Americas, and took delegations of CAWA social justice activists into rural and tribal regions of California. She continues to invent new organizing paradigms and reaffirms the bold mission to assure all women have a voice in their government and economy every 5 years in concert with the UN CSW’s review and reassessment of the BPFA.

Marilyn is best described as “a persistent and progressive advocate who overcomes obstacles, marching forward with enduring commitment and a passion for social justice.” In 2008, Marilyn worked straight through treatment for non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma because it was the election year to “take back America.”

Marilyn has served on the Board of Directors and consulted with the Association of Women in Development (AWID), Japan External Trade Organization, Japan America Society, Planned Parenthood Federation of America, The Africa Summit, Survival Skills, Education and Development, and Global Forum for Women.

Chief Technology Officer

CEDAW Award for
Corporate Program

One of Twitter’s core values to grow our ADAM MESSINGER, Chief Technology Officer, Twitterbusiness in a way that makes us proud. Twitter supports this value by trying to make our company the mode of a great workplace for women engineers.

Twitter’s Women in Engineering group was created in the summer of 2011 and receives direct support and involvement at the executive level. WomEng works to improve diversity by partnering with organizations who bring more women into the technology industry, while also executing initiatives to maintain an inclusive and respecful culture at Twitter.

In 2012, Twitter partnered with Girls Who Code to help bring technical opportunities and resources to young women. This past summer, Twitter hosted GWC at its San Francisco offfice, including a mentorship program with women employees at Twitter and talks from the executive level.

Twitter has also worked with other organizations such as Hackbright, Technovation and TechWomen to host event and mentor women interested in computer science. This effort extends to working with women in all levels of engineering education, as well from CS4SF, a Computer Science camp for middle school girls, to working with Berkeley’s CS Kickstart and Stanford’s WiCS Mentorship progarm.

To ensure the company has a diverse and respectful working environment, WomEng works with Twitter’s executive level to bring a variety of programs to the company. Some of the initiatives WomEng has done include putting together leadership workshops, focus groups on company culture, and offsites. The group also often hosts both internal and external social events to help foster a welcoming community. Every engineering new hire receives an invitation to a monthly WomEng lunch to help create an inclusive, friendly working environment. Twitter has also brought in numerous inspirational women to talk about their career paths, including Carol Bartz and Roya Mahboob.

Adam is accepting the Corporate Program award on Twitter’s behalf. Adam oversees Twitter’s technical architecture & sets technology strategy. He previously served as Vice President of Application Development, where he led design, mobile and web applications, growth, relevance & advertising teams. Adam serves on the board of Girls Who Code and champions their vision to reach gender parity in computing fields. Twitter is being honored for their participation in the Gender Equality Principals.

MAJOR GENERAL ANTONIO TAGUBA (Ret) U.S. Army U.S. Department of Justice Task Force on Children Expos
(Ret) U.S. Army
U.S. Department of Justice
Task Force on Children Exposed
to Violence
Pan Pacific American Leaders and Mentors (PPALM)

CEDAW Award for Government

MG Tony Taguba is the President of TDLS Consulting, LLC which provides business consulting services to small companies: disabled owned and 8a certified. Tony is the Chairman, Pan Pacific American Leaders and Mentors (PPALM), a national, all volunteer, non-profit organization committed to mentoring and professional development of military and civilian leaders.

Born in Manila, Philippines on October 31, 1950, Tony was commissioned as an Armor officer and served in numerous command and staff positions from platoon to General Officer level and his service tours included assignments in the continental U.S., South Korea, Germany and Kuwait.

In 2000, Tony was appointed to the Secretary of Defense Task Force on Domestic Violence, which was comprised of 12 senior general officers & 12 civilian subject matter experts on domestic violence. The task force produced a comprehensive report to the Secretary of Defense and Congress on the prevention and intervention of domestic violence in the military. In 2011, he was appointed to the U.S. Attorney General’s National Task Force on Children Exposed to Violence.

As Deputy Commanding General of the U.S. Armed Forces deployed to support Operation Iraqi Freedom, Tony was responsible for overseeing the command’s program in the prevention of sexual assaults throughout the command’s countries of responsibility.

Tony received an Honorary Degree of Doctor of Humane Letters from the University of San Francisco. He is a graduate of Idaho State University with a BA in History, Webster University with an MA in Public Administration, Salve Regina University with an MA in International Relations, and the U.S. College of Naval Command with an MA in National Security & Strategic Studies. Tony is also a graduate of the U.S. Army Command and General Staff College, and the U.S. Army War College.

MG Tony Taguba served 34 years on Active Duty. Married to Debra Ann Taguba, they have two adult children, Lindsay Taguba Keys and Captain Sean Taguba, U.S. Army.

CARYL ITO, Past President San Francisco Commission on the Status of Women (SFCOSW)
Past President
San Francisco Commission on the Status of Women (SFCOSW)

CEDAW Award for Legacy

Caryl Ito currently owns and operates a sales and marketing business of children’s toys associated with Lorraine T. Bozeman & Associates, which represents an array of multinational toy companies in Northern California. Caryl had a 17 year career as a social worker in public welfare programs.

In the early 1970’s, Caryl was selected to join a leadership internship sponsored by the Ford Foundation and the U.S. Department of Labor, her first opportunity to work on public policy and program development in both public and private agencies in Washington D.C., Atlanta, New York City, and San Francisco.

Initially appointed to help re-establish the long-vacated San Francisco Commission on the Status of Women, Caryl served under 3 mayoral administrations and served as its President on and off from 1989 to 1998. This gave her an opportunity to stabilize this Commission with its independent Executive Director and budget. Caryl and her colleagues further secured the work of the Commission by developing the Prop E ballot measure to include the Commission in the City’s Charter. With the support of the San Francisco Women Advocates, this measure overwhelmingly passed.

After the brutal death of Veena Charan, Caryl’s proudest work while serving on this Commission was chairing the first policy committee on the prevention of domestic violence and chairing the Sexual Harassment Prevention Committee. Recommendations from both committees resulted in many policy and procedural changes within San Francisco’s various City departments to improve solutions on these issues. Here the city’s discussion of CEDAW, with the leadership of colleague, Patti Chang, began.

In 2000, Caryl was appointed by then Mayor Willie Brown to chair the third Women’s Summit in San Francisco The summit attracted more than 5000 participants and bolstered priorities for women not only in San Francisco but also in the entire Bay Area.

In 1989, Mayor Brown appointed Caryl to the San Francisco Airport Commission where she served 12 years as the first Asian American woman on that Commission. Caryl continues to serve on the Airport’s Naming Committee and the Public Art Selection committee. She also serves on the Board of the San Francisco Japantown Task Force and the Hepatitis B Prevention Council.

Her past community activities include: Co-founder of the Pacific Asian American Women Bay Area Coalition (a 32 year old organization); Trustee for Saint Francis Memorial Hospital; and Board member of SPUR.

Caryl has received honors and awards from the SF Board of Supervisors, the Women’s Foundation, KQED, Pacific Asian American Women Bay Area Coalition, Commission on the Status of Women, Family Violence Prevention Fund, and Asian Perinatal Advocates.  

ELMY BERMEJO, Director of Intergovernmental Affairs U.S. Department of Labor
Director of
Intergovernmental Affairs
U.S. Department of Labor

CEDAW Award for Labor

Elmy Bermejo has been dedicated to public service for more than 25 years. In 2010 President Barack Obama appointed Elmy to serve as the Director of Intergovernmental Affairs at the U.S. Department of Labor. As such, Elmy initiates, develops and maintains relationships with state and local officials, intergovernmental organizations such as the National Governors Association, the US Conference of Mayors, and the National League of Cities.

Advising the Secretary on the impact of state and local issues on the programs and initiatives of the Department and the Administration, Elmy also manages the Secretary’s Regional Representatives based in New York, Miami, Chicago, Denver and California. She has worked in state and federal government as well as in the non-profit and small business sectors.

Elmy’s prior posts include Deputy Secretary for External Affairs for the California State and Consumer Services Agency, Special Assistant to two California Senate Presidents Pro Tempore, Senator Don Perata (2004-2007) and Senator John Burton (1996-2004).

Elmy has worked for former Members of Congress Lynn Woolsey of Marin-Sonoma and Mel Levine of Los Angeles, and also worked as a consultant to various statewide campaigns, with Spanish language translations of campaign materials and PSA’s for television, radio and Latino media.

Elmy formerly served as the Chair of the California Commission on the Status of Women, Chair of the Women’s Foundation of CA and President of HOPE (Hispanas Organized for Political Equality), a non-profit organization committed to ensuring political and economic parity for Latinas. She served on the Advisory Board of EMERGE, the National Hispanic Media Coalition, Transparent Democracy, Feed the Hunger, the San Francisco City and County Complete Count Committee for Census 2010 and the Mexican American Legal Defense & Education Fund (MALDEF).

In 2004, Hispanic Magazine named Elmy a Latina of Excellence in Community Service. In 2007 Latino Leaders Magazine profiled Elmy and in 2008 the League of Women Voters honored Elmy as a “Woman Who Could Be President.” Elmy also recently received the Public Service Award from the San Francisco La Raza Lawyers Association.
Elmy has participated in the International Speakers Program sponsored by the US Department of State, USAID and State University New York (SUNY), and participated in forums in El Salvador, Bolivia and Haiti to discuss the importance of women in leadership, public service and public office.

Elmy holds a BA in psychology and a graduate degree in Bilingual Vocational Counseling. Originally from Yucatan, Mexico, since 1965 Elmy’s family has owned Tommy’s Mexican Restaurant in San Francisco. The Wall Street Journal called Tommy’s the “Epicenter of Tequila.” The restaurant has also been featured in TIME Magazine, The San Francisco Chronicle, CNN, Sunset and Esquire Magazines.

PAUL HENDERSON, Deputy Chief Of Staff For Public Safety, Mayor Ed Lee’s Office, San Francisco

Deputy Chief of Staff
for Public Safety
Mayor Ed Lee’s Office
San Francisco

CEDAW Award for Violence Prevention

Paul Henderson was raised in the Bayview-Hunters Point neighborhood of San Francisco. He worked his way through his undergraduate studies at UCLA before earning his Juris Doctorate from Tulane University, where he was elected class president. As a trial attorney with nearly two decades of courtroom experience, Paul successfully handled all types of cases in the criminal justice system, ranging from nonviolent misdemeanors to serious felonies, including homicide.

Paul served as Chief of Administration and prosecutor for the District Attorney of San Francisco, where he introduced cutting-edge policies, including a modified approach to 3 Strikes, juvenile domestic violence court, community justice court, and a neighborhood DA program. These programs have served as model initiatives that have contributed to the reform of the national criminal justice system.

Paul was appointed Deputy Chief of Staff and Public Safety Director by the Mayor of San Francisco, Edwin M. Lee, in March 2011. As Deputy Chief of Staff, Paul serves as a principal advisor to the Mayor and is responsible for the development and implementation of strategic policy and administration among various cabinet and supervisory officials of the local government.

Paul is committed to reducing violence in San Francisco. He has coordinated local violence prevention efforts with various city agencies, non-profits, and advocacy groups. Paul spent four years on the board of GirlSource, a non-profit that places low-income young women in work and leadership opportunities. In 2009-2010 Paul was a member of the San Francisco Women’s Political Committee, which engages women throughout the political process.

Paul is currently a member of the State Bar of California’s Council on Access and Fairness, which advocates for increased diversity in the legal profession. Through his success working to protect victims of violent crimes and representing communities without a voice in the courtroom, Paul has made a lasting impact on the San Francisco Bay Area. He is passionate about improving San Francisco by ending gender discrimination and preventing domestic violence, and has worked to further these goals as both a lawyer and an administrator.

SUSAN CELIA SWAN Executive Director, V-Day
Executive Director

CEDAW Award for Leadership

One of the original team who helped playwright Eve Ensler found and create V-Day, Susan’s efforts have been integral to the development of the movement as it grew from a one-night benefit event in 1998 to a wide ranging global non-profit, raising over $100 million dollars for grassroots organizations around the world and represented by activists in 140+ countries.

Susan has held senior executive positions in communications and new media at Atlantic Records and Sony Music Entertainment. At Atlantic, she worked with recording artist Tori Amos to launch RAINN (Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network), now the leading hotline and provider of services to women and girls in the United States.

From 2004 to 2009, Susan’s independent consulting firmundefinedSwan, LLC Mediaundefinedfocused on entertainment, new technology and cause-related communications representing clients including the ACLU, Just Vision, Columbia Records, and Robert Greenwald.

As Executive Director of V-Day, Susan oversees all aspects of V-Day ranging from campaigns and programs, to development, events, and communications. Susan works directly with a range of partners and supporters including individual, foundation, and corporate donors; activist, political and civic leaders; and media.

On February 14, 2013, V-Day’s 15th Anniversary,, it launched its most ambitious campaign ONE BILLION RISING which inspired one billion people in 207 countries to Strike, Dance and Rise for the freedom, safety and equality of women. With the women of Congo, V-Day opened and supported City of Joy in Bukavu, Democratic Republic of Congo, a revolutionary leadership center where survivors of gender violence Turn Their Pain to Power.

A graduate of Barnard College with a BA in Political Science, Susan lives in San Francisco with her partner Christopher and their daughter Helena Jett. She currently serves on the Board of Directors of V-Day and, of which she is a founder.

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