Kehoe, 65, is being honored as a “trailblazer” as the Women’s Museum of California hosts its 15th annual Hall of Fame ceremony and reception, organizers said Thursday.
The other inductees, chosen from more than 200 nominated by the community, are Evonne Seron Schulze (activist), Sally Wong Avery (bridge builder), Elizabeth Lou (empowerer of women) and Maria Garcia (historian).
The women represent and reflect “the full breadth and depth of the diversity in our community,” organizers said.
“They have selflessly and courageously contributed to San Diego and the world at large,” said Women’s Museum Executive Director Ashley Gardner. “Their lifetime work and achievements have improved lives and have left a lasting impact. They are the role models of our time.”
Los Angeles playwright and actress Amy Simon is set to perform, and Rep. Susan Davis and other guests are expected to attend.
Awards are granted on the basis of values, empowerment, activism, trailblazing, cultural competency and historical preservation.
Organizers shared these biographies:
Trailblazer: Christine Kehoe
Kehoe has cleared paths for progress on many fronts. She was a pioneer activist in 1978 with the Center for Women’s Studies and Services and in 1980 was San Diego County’s chair for the campaign to defeat the Lyndon LaRouche AIDS discrimination initiative.
Elected to the San Diego City Council, Kehoe fought crime, supported small businesses, worked to make neighborhoods clean and safe, and to improve public schools. In the California State Assembly, she was the second woman ever elected Assembly Speaker pro Tempore, the Assembly’s second highest-ranking position, and the first member to chair the Legislature’s Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender caucus.
Kehoe has been at the forefront of environmental issues and has led efforts to improve and beautify San Diego, reduce street crime, and improve recreational opportunities for families.
Activist: Evonne Seron Schulze
Schulze has organized, instigated, persuaded, and inspired San Diegans to work for the betterment of communities, schools, and government. She was a founding member of the San Diego chapter of the National Women’s Political Caucus and has been bestowed numerous awards for community service.
Schulze promoted women’s causes as chief of staff to government officials on the local, state and national levels. She was Director of Community Education for the San Diego Unified School District before voters elected her to the San Diego Community College District Board of Trustees, where she served three terms.
Her political campaigns were training grounds for other women who aspired to public service. She demonstrated her continued devotion to public education as a member of the California Postsecondary Education Commission and the California State Senate representative to the California State Universities.
Bridge builder: Sally Wong-Avery
Wong-Avery started her career as a case worker for the Chinese Social Service Center in 1974. She then graduated from UCSD and earned her law degree from the California Western School of Law.
In 1983, she became the Executive Director of the Chinese Social Service Center and served in that position for almost five years.
During that time, Wong-Avery helped found the Chinese Historical Society in 1985 with her dear friend and mentor, the late Dorothy Hom. In 1987, she opened Chinese Professional Services, which provided a variety of free services to seniors, non-English speaking new immigrants, and limited-English speaking residents.
After opening her private law practice, Wong-Avery founded the non-profit organization, Chinese Service Center in 2003, in order to preserve, and educate the public, concerning Chinese history and culture. She has dedicated herself to assisting the Chinese community in San Diego for over 30 years.
Empowerer: Elizabeth Lou
Lou has worked to educate and support refugee and immigrant women since shortly after she herself resettled in San Diego in 1999.
The community organizer and health educator drew on personal experience to found the Nile Sisters Development Initiative in 2001 which helps women and families achieve social and economic self-reliance. From East Africa to East San Diego, women refugees have found help through Nile Sisters.
Lou’s work at Nile Sisters has won recognition from numerous organizations. She was awarded President Barack Obama’s Volunteer Service Award, the United Nations’ Eleanor Roosevelt Award for Human Rights, and the Congressional Award for Advancing the Status of Women and Children among others.
Historian: Maria Garcia
Garcia is an educator, Chicana activist, a retired elementary school principal, and an historian. Her Neighborhood House series began with interviews that she completed in the early 70s.
The first person accounts about Neighborhood House and life in Logan Heights and Barrio Logan formed the basis of an extensive paper on Chicano history in San Diego, which she wrote while she was attending San Diego State University.
Neighborhood House provided a broad array of services to Logan Heights residents that included everything from a communal oven to hot showers; from home health care and child care to tonsillectomies on site (with recovery in the auditorium) and athletic programs and ESL classes.
The collection and preservation of the stories of ordinary people formed the basis of her weekly column, “The History of Neighborhood House in Logan Heights.” The popular series launched on Cinco de Mayo, 2014 and provides a richly detailed glimpse into life in the predominately Mexican American, working-class community of Logan Heights.
The San Diego County Women’s Hall of Fame was created in 2001 as a way to bring attention to women’s actions and accomplishments visible in San Diego. Some 78 women are in the San Diego County Women’s Hall of Fame.
In 2001, the four co-hosts of the San Diego County Women’s Hall of Fame organized the first Hall of Fame event at UC San Diego to honor and acknowledge women who have significantly contributed to the quality of life and have made outstanding volunteer contributions in San Diego County.
The Women’s Hall of Fame is a collaboration among the Women’s Museum of California, Department of Women’s Studies at San Diego State University, Women’s Center at UC San Diego, and San Diego County Commission on the Status of Women.
The ceremony is set for 2:30 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. Sunday, March 6, at the Joe and Vi Jacobs Center, 404 Euclid Ave, San Diego. The event is open to the public and registration is required.
Single tickets range from $25 to $45 per person, and a table starts at $450, with proceeds benefiting The Women’s Hall of Fame. To attend or take part as a sponsor, visit womenshalloffamesd.org/ or call 619-233-7963.
The Women’s Museum of California is on Twitter @WMofC and Facebook at Facebook.com/WomensMuseumCa.