The Lawyers Club Icon Award, established in 2008, is given to an individual who epitomizes success and innovation and whose efforts leave a legacy. The Icon Award is earned by someone who shows exceptional achievement furthering the advancement of women in the law and society and honors those who have continued to make meritorious contributions to society throughout his/her/their life, and who share Lawyers Club’s values of justice, inclusion and progress.
2021 Icon - Dr. Shirley N. Weber
Dr. Weber broke barriers once thought insurmountable when in December 2020 Governor Gavin Newsom elevated her to California Secretary of State. She is the first African American to serve as California’s Secretary of State and only the fifth African American to serve as a state constitutional officer in California’s 170-year history. Her accomplishments have resulted in a large crack in the glass ceiling for women everywhere.
Dr. Weber’s career of service to women, children, and all Californians inspires us to never give up the fight to root out injustices and inequities against women and people of color.
Dr. Weber is the daughter of sharecroppers from Hope, Arkansas, born during the segregationist Jim Crow era. After being threatened by a lynch mob, Dr. Weber’s father fled Arkansas with his family on a train bound for Los Angeles. Her father inculcated to Dr. Weber and her siblings the value of prioritizing their education, believing that education would open the door to a better life. Dr. Weber inherited her father’s determination, and earned her bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degrees in communications with a focus on political movements from UCLA by the time she was 26 years old.
Dr. Weber pursued a career in academia that led her from California State University at Los Angeles and Los Angeles City College to San Diego State University, where she became one of the school’s youngest professors in history. There, she founded the Africana Studies Department, which she taught in for forty years.
Dr. Weber’s political career began in 1988 when she joined the San Diego Unified School Board with the goal to improve the education system, and she served on the School Board until 1996. In November 2012, Dr. Weber was elected to the California State Assembly, as the first African American south of Los Angeles to serve in the California State Assembly for a total of four terms until her appointment as California Secretary of State.
As a Assemblymember Dr. Weber devoted herself to improving equality in various areas. She worked to close the gap between low-income students and wealthier children. as evidenced by her work to reform California’s public schools through numerous bills and initiatives, including an initiative that ensured new schools would be constructed in old, overcrowded neighborhoods that desperately needed them. As Chair of the Select Committee on Campus Climate, she examined and mitigated hate crimes on California college campuses, while exploring student hunger, sexual assault, and homelessness. She was also a member of the California Assembly’s Committee on Higher Education, focused on ways to improve the quality, affordability, and equal access of higher education in San Diego.
Dr. Weber championed efforts to address the continuous crisis of pay inequity and an end to affirmative action in California to give everyone, regardless of gender or race, an equal opportunity and access to fair wages, good jobs, quality education, and safe policing. She made legislative history with her police reform bill that mandated use of force standard, a first in the United States.
As the longest serving member on the Assembly Committee on Elections in Sacramento, Dr. Weber helped shape California’s election history because her leadership protected and expanded the right to vote for all Californians.
Even when Dr. Weber’s proposals and initiatives were stalled in the legislation, she remained undeterred. “I come out of a legacy that says, if you don’t keep kicking at the door, you’ll never be able to wear it down or open it. So, I keep kicking,” explained Dr. Weber.
Lawyers Club extol’s Dr. Weber and her multi-decade trailblazing leadership in California. Undoubtedly, her legacy is one that will benefit Californians for generations to come.
2020 Icon - Stacey Abrams
2018 Icon - Hon. Loretta Lynch
2017 Icon - Professor Anita Hill
2015 Icon - United States Senator Olympia Snowe (Ret.)
2014 Icon - Hon. Sandra Day O'Connor
2012 Icon - Justice Judith McConnell
2012 Icon - Hon. Lynn Schenk
2010 Icon - Betty Evans Boone
2008 Icon - Helen Thomas