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Women's History Heroes 2008

Donna Freeman

Donna Freeman
Ladies Night

Donna Freeman is a volunteer in charge of the meal program at Ladies Night in the Mission district in San Francisco. Ladies Night is a safe place for homeless and low-income women, including male-to-female transgender women, to eat a hot meal and to receive hygiene products, counseling, medical care, and clothes. Freeman, with the help of other volunteers, does the primary shopping, preparation, and cooking and has raised money for the meal program.

Freeman began volunteering by serving meals at the Women's Center, a weekly site for a SF AIDS Foundation needle exchange. When the meal program was canceled, Freeman worked to save the program, and they were able to continue providing food until the site was closed. In the search for another location, she was put in touch with women from the Mission Neighborhood Resource Center, Women's Community Medical Clinic, and the San Francisco Needle Exchange, who were organizing Ladies Night. She raised funds for the meal program and arranged for initial administration. Freeman is a staple at Ladies Night every week, preparing the nightly meals and to-go food for the women to take with them.

Prior to her role at Ladies Night, Freeman had been involved in the National Organization for Women and a volunteer for the California Abortion Rights League.


Norma Hotaling

Norma Hotaling
SAGE (Standing Against Global Exploitation)

Norma Hotaling, Founder and Executive Director of SAGE (Standing Against Global Exploitation), has extensive personal and professional experience working with issues of homelessness, violence, and sexual exploitation, including prostitution, pornography and trafficking in women and girls. As a survivor of prostitution, recovering heroin addict, ex-offender and formerly homeless woman, Hotaling has counseled thousands of homeless women, prostitutes and exploited women and girls locally, throughout the United States and the world in criminal justice systems and community-based organizations.

In keeping with her determination to help women take care of themselves, Hotaling hired many of her former clients to run the programs at SAGE. She has joined forces with groups around the world to set up support systems for women and children caught up in the global sex-trafficking market. And she has advocated for the rights of prostitutes before the U.N. commission on the Status of Women. Hotaling's enduring commitment has helped hundreds of women survive trauma and despair.

Hotaling has designed and implemented programs that have been adopted nationally and internationally, such as the First Offenders Prostitution Program (FOPP) for customers of prostitutes, girls and young women with the San Francisco District Attorney's Office and the San Francisco Police Department.


Margaret Jenkins

Margaret Jenkins
Margaret Jenkins Dance Company

Choreographer, teacher, and mentor Margaret Jenkins began her early dance training in San Francisco, and continued at Juilliard and UCLA. In New York during the 1960's, she danced in the companies of Viola Farber, Gus Solomons jr and Twyla Tharp's original company with Sara Rudner. Jenkins also taught on the faculty of the Merce Cunningham Studio and often restaged Cunningham's works for companies in Europe and the United States.

In 1970, Jenkins returned to San Francisco, opened one of the West Coast's first studio-performing spaces and formed her own Company in 1973. She has made over 75 works for the Margaret Jenkins Dance Company, and toured regularly throughout the U.S. and abroad. She is the recipient of a Guggenheim Fellowship, the Bernard Osher Cultural Award and numerous other awards and commissions for her work and her commitment to the field.

Jenkins' recent activities have included a five-week tour of A Slipping Glimpse, her collaboration with the Tanusree Shankar Dance Company of India. Her recent commission by the San Francisco Ballet for their 75th anniversary, Thread, will premiere this season during the Ballet's New Works Festival. This fall, Jenkins and her Company will travel to China for a residency with the Guangdong Modern Dance Company where they will collaborate on Jenkins' new trilogy of dances, entitled Other Suns.


Debbra Lindo

Debbra Lindo
College Track

With a strong background in educational leadership and organizational change management, Debbra Lindo leads efforts aimed at increasing opportunities for high school students from under-resourced communities. She assumed the role of CEO/Chief Academic Officer at College Track in 2006 after serving on the College Track board for four years. College Track currently serves more than 300 high school students and over 200 college students at centers in East Palo Alto, Oakland, and San Francisco and is developing new partnerships to increase College Track's reach locally and nationally.

Prior to joining College Track, Lindo worked in education for over thirty years. She has been a distinguished faculty member of the San Ramon, Sequoia and San Mateo school districts and served as an executive officer and high school principal for both the Oakland Unified and the Sequoia Union High School Districts. Lindo's tenure in Oakland included leading major school reform initiatives, including the dismantling and rebuilding of large under-performing middle and high schools into new small schools. Through this process, Lindo facilitated design and program development that is currently reversing the downward trend for over 1,500 East Oakland students.

Lindo graduated from Mills College with a bachelor's degree in U.S. History. She also earned a masters degree in education from Stanford University and is currently pursuing a doctorate in education from St. Mary's College.


Sara O'Donnell

Sara O'Donnell
Cancer Resource Center of Mendocino County

Sara O'Donnell is the founder and Executive Director of the Cancer Resource Center of Mendocino County (CRCMC). Since 1995, CRCMC has helped cancer patients, their families and caregivers with a full range of support services, including assistance with formulating care plans, advocacy for benefits, support groups, counseling, and transportation.

Raised in the central valley, O'Donnell and her family were exposed to crop dusters and pesticides. In the years since then, she has watched her mother and father, a brother, and two aunts die of cancer. In 1990, O'Donnell was herself diagnosed. CRCMC is the result of her determination to provide a support network for cancer patients living in the rural county and to help them navigate the daunting maze of cancer care.

O'Donnell has organized workshops on pesticides and their consequences for the health of school children, the environment, and farm workers. She has coordinated trainings for school maintenance workers on non-toxic pest control methods and has demonstrated the effectiveness of owl boxes in reducing insects and rodents. O'Donnell also played a leading role in the creation of Pure Mendocino, an alliance with Mendocino County's organic food and wine producers whose annual organic food and wine event raises funds for the work of the CRCMC.

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