Spring Update 2016


California Women's Law Center


 Dear CWLC Supporter,

We have been working diligently in the pursuit of justice for women and girls at the California Women’s Law Center and we have much to share and many ways for you to get involved. Join Us!

In this issue…

2016 Annual Pursuit of Justice Awards- Tuesday May 17, 2016 – This year we are honoring the Downtown Women’s Center, the Kaiser Family Foundation and Planned Parenthood Los Angeles. We hope to see you there!

“Aging, Women and Poverty in California” Forum- Friday June 3, 2016  – CWLC, the California Commission on Aging and the California Commission on the Status of Women and Girls will consider the needs and challenges facing older women in our state.

CWLC Distinguished Guest Speaker – David Codell’s insight about the United States Supreme Court

Series CWLC Advocacy – The 2016 Legislative Session

Lisa Gilford joins CWLC Board

Grace Clark and Madeleine Sharp join CWLC staff 

The 2016 Pursuit of Justice Awards Luncheon honoring the Downtown Women’s Center, the Kaiser Family Foundation and Planned Parenthood of Los Angeles

The California Women’s Law Center will be holding our annual Abby J. Leibman Pursuit of Justice Awards Ceremony and Lunch on Tuesday, May 17, 2016 at the Millennium Biltmore Hotel in downtown Los Angeles.

We hope you will join us in recognizing three outstanding organizations for their commitment to women’s health and their work to ensure women have accurate medical information and options. We are grateful for all of our honorees’ commitment to providing accessible and reliable healthcare to women and families in need and hope you can attend our event acknowledging their important work to ensure women’s health.

Since 1978, the Downtown Women’s Center has been the only organization in Los Angeles exclusively dedicated to meeting the needs of women who are homeless or extremely low-income. Reaching more than 3,000 women annually through housing, health, job readiness, advocacy, and basic needs programs, DWC works to end the homeless cycle among the women they serve.

The Kaiser Family Foundation is dedicated to filling the need for trusted information on national health issues. They are a leader in health policy analysis and health journalism and serve as a non-partisan source of facts and analysis for policymakers, the media, the health care community and the public. Their product is information, always provided free of charge, and ranges from the most sophisticated policy research, to basic facts and numbers, to in-depth health policy news coverage provided by their news service, KHN, as well as information young people can use to improve their health or that the general public can use to understand the health reform law.

Planned Parenthood Los Angeles is the largest provider of reproductive health services in Los Angeles County with over 140,000 patients served annually. PPLA is committed to providing convenient, affordable access to a comprehensive range of quality reproductive health care and sexual health information through patient services, education and advocacy. PPLA’s work is integral to improving the health outcomes for individuals, families and communities.

Please join us for an inspiring lunch and our 2016 Pursuit of Justice Award Presentation Ceremony on May 17th. The VIP Reception will begin at 11:30 a.m. and the program will begin at 12:00 noon. Sponsorship and ticket information is available online at www.cwlc.org/dev2019

“Aging, Women and Poverty in California” Forum 

The California Women’s Law Center will co-sponsor an “Aging, Women and Poverty in California” forum on Friday, June 3rd, 2016, which will address the needs of aging women in California. CWLC will join with the California Commission on the Status of Women and Girls and the California Commission on Aging at the Skirball Cultural Center to address aging, elder justice and retirement concerns and discuss outcomes the community, policy makers and elected leaders should consider and begin to prepare for the fastest growing segment of our society.

3.5 million American Seniors live in poverty and in California, 20% of our elder adults 65 and over live below the poverty line. More than 1,000 Californians turn 65 every day and 47% of older Californians don’t have the income to meet their basic needs.

We will also analyze the demographic changes facing California, the impact on seniors and their families, and policy changes that could be implemented to address the growing population of aging Americans.

Los Angeles is the poorest big city in the country with higher poverty rates than New York or Chicago. The issue of understating poverty is especially pressing in states like California with both a high cost of living and a high poverty rate.

We have confirmed a number of dynamic speakers who are experts in their field as well as several elected leaders and policy makers. For additional information please contact Betsy.Butler@cwlc.org.

Meet Our new Board Member, Lisa Gilford
Lisa Gilford is a partner at Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom LLP and a champion of diversity. At Skadden, she is a leading complex civil litigator where her practice is focused on class actions, products liability law and jury trials. Prior to joining Skadden in 2013, Ms. Gilford was the co-chair of the products liability practice at another prominent law firm. She taught at the Georgetown University Law Center and was a graduate fellow and public service lawyer with Georgetown’s Institute for Public Representation. She frequently lectures on topics including California tort, consumer protection and unfair competition claims, defense of class actions, best practices for outside counsel and professional development for women lawyers and other diversity issues. She is a current board member of Bet Tzedek and the former president of the National Association of Women Lawyers, Langston Bar Association and the Women Lawyers Association of Los Angeles. She received her undergraduate degree from Furman University, her law degree from USC and her LL.M. from Georgetown University.

We are pleased to welcome Lisa to the CWLC Board.

CWLC’s Distinguished Guest Speaker Series 
As part of our continuing series, David Codell led a panel discussion titled “Gender, Privacy and Sexual Orientation: What’s at Stake in the Supreme Court in 2016” which was generously hosted by Manatt, Phelps and Phillips, LLP on February 3rd. David was a clerk for U.S. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg and has successfully fought for the constitutional right for same-sex couples to marry throughout the nation and has represented same-sex couples before the U.S. Supreme Court on numerous occasions.


CWLC, The Oscars and Campus Sexual Assault
A spotlight was shining on the issue of campus sexual assault during the 88th Academy Awards Ceremony in February. CWLC’s Program and Outreach Director, Kamilah Willingham, shared the stage with Lady Gaga and 50 other sexual assault survivors for a powerful performance of “’Til It Happens To You.”

The performance was introduced by Vice President Joe Biden who said “Too many men and women around the country are still victims of sexual abuse, we must and we can change the culture so that no sexual abuse survivor thinks they did anything wrong.”

He urged the crowd to pledge to “intervene in situations where consent cannot or has not been given.”

The performance was an historic moment and spread awareness of the crisis of sexual assault to a global audience.

We at CWLC will continue our work to end sexual assault on campus and beyond with renewed inspiration. Thank you, Kamilah, and the other courageous men and women who stood in solidarity with survivors in a broadcast shown around the world. Working together, we will make change happen! #NotAlone #ItsOnUs #TilItHappensToYou #TheHuntingGround

CWLC Advocacy – 2016 Legislative Session 
In January, State Senator Connie Leyva introduced SB 813, the “Justice for Victims Act,” which seeks to eliminate the statute of limitations for rape in California. CWLC is sponsoring this legislation and advocating for its passage.

“The purpose of the ‘Justice for Victims Act’ is simple: To prevent rapists and sexual predators from evading legal consequences in California simply because the statute of limitations has run its course,” Senator Leyva said. “Regardless of when a rape or sexual assault is discovered or reported, survivors of sexual offenses must have an opportunity to seek justice in a court of law. SB 813 does not change the burden of proof and victims will still have to prove their allegations in court, meaning that all this bill does is extend the opportunity for victims to have their day in court.”

According to the U.S. Department of Justice, only two in 100 rapists will be convicted of a felony and spend any time in prison. The other 98 percent will never be punished for their crime.

In addition, CWLC is advocating for SB 384, also authored by Senator Leyva, which seeks to ensure that part of the funds made available through the passage of Proposition 41 are used to provide housing for underserved veterans including those who suffer from PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder) due to MST (military sexual trauma).

For female veterans, especially those who suffer from MST, living in a facility that houses mainly men poses serious safety and health risks. Women do not feel comfortable or safe in these facilities and this limitation, combined with the safety risks of living in male dominated facilities, makes finding housing for female veterans, and female veterans with children, nearly impossible. SB 384 seeks to eliminate some of these barriers by ensuring that funding is available to create housing for underserved veterans by calling for construction of facilities that serve this vulnerable population.

We are pleased to welcome Grace Clark and Madeleine Sharp

Grace Clark is thrilled to be joining the California Woman’s Law Center to continue her dedication to justice and the preservation of civil liberties for women and girls.

Prior to joining CWLC, Mrs. Clark advocated for parents and children who became subject to California’s child welfare system. Primarily representing her clients for the appeal, she routinely argued before the California Court of Appeal, second and fourth districts.

Mrs. Clark spent the beginning of her legal career representing indigent children and adults charged with crimes for the Orange County Public Defender’s Office. During this time, she practiced in numerous specialty courts, including domestic violence court, drug court, juvenile court, and dependency court. She handles all aspects of the defense, from arraignment through jury trial, in both felony and misdemeanor cases. She earned her Juris Doctor from Whittier Law School, and her Bachelor’s of Science in environmental studies from the University of Oregon.

A 2015 graduate of UC Irvine School of Law, CWLC is delighted Madeleine Sharp will be working on our staff this year as a 2016 UCI Law Public Interest Fellow for 2016. While at UCI Law, she served as chair of the Jewish Law Association and the Children’s Advocacy Group and was a senior editor on the UC Irvine Law Review. Madeleine graduated from Loyola Marymount University. As an undergraduate, she interned for Senator Barbara Boxer and served as a law clerk with the Los Angeles District Attorney’s office.


Thank you for supporting the California Women’s Law Center and our commitment to improving the economic, educational and healthcare opportunities for women and girls in our state. Equity in all of these areas will allow women to reach their goals and build a strong future.

Ensuring women and girls are being provided accurate information and accessible health care options is a priority for CWLC. We know that with good health care comes the ability to lead productive, healthy lives and because of our focus on women’s health, this year our Pursuit of Justice lunch will recognize organizations that have dedicated themselves to ensuring women’s medical needs are addressed through research, funding and access to quality care. Please join us on Tuesday, May 17th as we honor the Kaiser Family Foundation, the Downtown Women’s Center and Planned Parenthood Los Angeles. CWLC is grateful for the work these impressive organizations do to improve and ensure women and girls in California have the best chance possible to live strong, independent lives.

CWLC is also focusing on the needs of aging women in California. On Friday, June 3rd, CWLC will be co-sponsoring an “Aging, Women and Poverty in California” forum at the Skirball Cultural Center in Los Angeles. In conjunction with the California Commission on Aging and the California Commission on the Status of Women Girls, the forum will address the challenges of California’s aging population as well as elder justice issues, retirement and economic security matters. The forum will help us outline the hurdles California women and families face, discuss ways we can work together to address the economic realities of aging in this state and begin to build a strategy of awareness and action that can be implemented at all levels of government and in every community. People who are 80 years young are the fastest growing segment of our society and, with 1000 people a day turning 65 in California for the next 17 years, are we prepared? Join us on June 3rd and find out.

We remain active on a wide range of Title IX cases because CWLC is committed to ensuring gender equality exists on every school campus. We are involved in several Title IX cases ranging from inequities on the playing field through our athletics work to discrimination against pregnant or parenting students and school employees to our continued effort to make sure our college campuses are safe.

Thank you to everyone who is participating in the fight for equality because progress comes when people work together to demand change. The California Women’s Law Center is proud to be a part of the march toward equity and fairness for women and families in California and across the nation. I hope you will continue to support our mission of pursuing justice for women and girls and that you will join us in the coming months as we work toward economic, educational and medical parity for all.

In strength,

Betsy Butler
Executive Director

In order for the California Women’s Law Center to advocate, provide legal services, and conduct educational trainings on behalf of women and girls, we rely on your support.  Any donation you can make is greatly appreciated.