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Women's History Heroes 2009

Aspen Baker

Aspen Baker
Exhale

Aspen Baker is the leading voice in the nation on the personal experiences of women post-abortion. It was Baker's own experience with abortion in 1999 that led her to found Bay Area-based Exhale, the nation's only pro-voice organization dedicated to promoting post-abortion health and well-being. Exhale's unique programs reach more than 35,000 women every year and its pro-voice strategies create a more supportive and respectful abortion dialogue. Exhale also publishes a bilingual magazine, Our Truths-Nuestras Verdades, which features the voices of women who have had abortions.

Baker is currently a member of the Women's Health Leadership Network of the Washington D.C.-based progressive think tank, the Center for American Progress, and she has was named "Young Executive Director of the Year 2005" by the Bay Area's Young Non-Profit Professional Network. As a spokesperson for Exhale, Baker has been featured in a variety of media outlets across the country, including TV and radio, on such programs as CNN Headline News, CNN with Paula Zahn Now, Fox National News, Ladies Home Journal, New York Times Magazine, National Public Radio, Associated Press, Newsweek, San Francisco Chronicle, Oakland Tribune, Philadelphia Inquirer, Chicago Tribune, San Jose Mercury News, The New Republic, Alternet, Women's eNews, Bust and more.

Baker is a regular contributor to RH Reality Check and she is featured in the March issue of Glamour magazine available on newsstands and online now. She also maintains a personal blog online.


Jean Murrell Adams

Jean Murrell Adams
ADAMS ESQ

Seven years ago, Attorney Jean Murrell Adams opened the public interest law firm of ADAMS ESQ to provide high quality legal service at no cost to parents of children with special needs. Her own experience fighting for the rights of her exceptional child prompted her to devote her career to helping other parents. ADAMS ESQ focuses exclusively on special education law and has offices throughout California.

Since its inception, the attorneys, advocates, and staff of ADAMS ESQ have successfully assisted hundreds of low-income special needs children to obtain services from school districts. The firm has won thousands of hours of tutoring for students as well as desperately needed services like speech therapy, occupational therapy, and behavioral support. ADAMS ESQ has also secured private (non-public) schools, college tuition, books and computers for disabled students at district expense. Adams is dedicated to empowering parents to advocate for their own special needs children and she frequently lectures at community forums and parent group meetings.

Prior to founding the law firm, Adams headed the litigation department at DreamWorks Pictures and served as Vice President and Assistant General Counsel of Sony Pictures. Adams received her B.A. from Princeton University and her J.D. from the University of Southern California Law Center.


Lieutenant Lea Militello

Lieutenant Lea Militello
SF Police Department

Lieutenant Lea Militello began her career in law enforcement in 1981. One of only a handful of lesbians out at that time, Militello recognized the need to further open the lines of communication between the LGBT community and the San Francisco Police Department. She developed a training program for incoming recruits to help bridge the gap, and since then has met with countless police agencies across the country assisting them in developing similar programs, so they may effectively interact and develop partnerships with the LGBT communities they serve.

Militello was one of the founders and is the current president of the San Francisco Police Officers Pride Alliance, founded to support and fight for the rights of LGBT officers in law enforcement. Prior to her recent promotion to lieutenant, Militello was assigned to the San Francisco Police Department Homicide Detail, where her and her partner became the first lesbian and gay team to work homicide. They made numerous arrests in the cases they investigated and have attained a 100% conviction rate. Militello has received the California Police Officers Association Police Officer of the Year, The San Francisco Police Department Silver medal of valor, two bronze medals of valor, 3 meritorious conduct awards, 5 police commission commendations and a purple heart (which she was awarded for being stabbed in the line of duty in 2003).

Militello shares her home with her longtime partner Annamarie and their son Ryan, a sophomore at Cal Poly in San Luis Obispo majoring in mechanical engineering.


Leslie Simon

Leslie Simon
City College of San Francisco

Leslie Simon has taught at City College of San Francisco (CCSF) since 1975, where she founded Poetry for the People, a class as well as a publishing collective. For many years she taught Women in the Arts, Women and Literature, and Contemporary Women Writers and Poets at CCSF. She also taught in the Women's Studies Department at San Francisco State University. Simon has chaired the Women's Studies Department at City College since 2001.

Simon worked at the UCSF Women's Resource Center as the coordinator of the Rape Prevention Education Program in the late 80s. In 1993, she founded Project SURVIVE, City College of San Francisco's peer education sexual violence prevention program. With a group of students at the college and a strong collaborative of community-based organizations, she helped create Expect Respect SF (ERSF). Funded by the college and The David B. Gold Foundation, ERSF will be in all SFUSD high schools by Fall 2010, delivering youth friendly workshops on healthy relationships.

A poet and writer, she has published Jazz/is for white girls, too (Poetry for the People), i rise/you riz/we born (Artaud's Elbow), High Desire (Wingbow), and Collisions and Transformations (Coffee House). Simon co-authored (with Jan Johnson Drantell) A Music I No Longer Heard: The Early Death of a Parent (Simon and Schuster).


Mary Howe

Mary Howe
Homeless Youth Alliance

Mary Howe, executive director of Homeless Youth Alliance (HYA), was once one of the approximately 10,000 homeless young people living in the Bay Area. After transitioning off the streets, Howe began working for Haight Ashbury Youth Outreach Team (HAYOT) at the age of 19. Seven years later, when HAYOT and San Francisco Needle Exchange were threatened with closure, Howe merged them into a single agency, Homeless Youth Alliance, an empowerment-based harm reduction program. Today, HYA provides 13,000 youth annually with the practical tools, education, and emotional and psychological support to lead healthier, safer lives and ultimately leave the streets.

Mary has made HYA the only youth-focused agency in San Francisco whose staff and Board mirror the target population they serve. Many of the agency's staff and 30 volunteers have personal experiences with homelessness or addiction. Mary has personally mentored and hired several former participants as outreach counselors, and encouraged them to follow their own career paths. As a result, many have gone on to pursue careers in human services and counseling-many of them at HYA itself.

Mary has been recognized in the community with an Outstanding Homeless Service Provider Award from San Francisco Local Homeless Coordinating Board and a Certificate of Appreciation from Safety Network Partnership. She was also named an Outstanding Community Advocate and Activist by Mission Neighborhood Resource Center.

Also on KQED.org this week ...

POV: When I Walk
Disability Culture Month

Each October, KQED hosts a Celebration of Disability Culture, airing special programs that explore the complex web of experiences and issues faced by people with disabilities.

voting booths
California Election Watch 2014: The Voter Guide

Don't have time to sort out all the statewide propositions and races for the upcoming November 5 election? Get help from KQED's Voter Guide!

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