Appreciating the roads that were paved before her and understanding the importance of the roads that she would lay, make Lynn Schenk this year’s Women’s Hall of Fame Trailblazer inductee.
As a daughter of Holocaust survivors, a daughter of the American dream, and a female law student in the late 1960s, Lynn quickly became familiar with aspects of ridicule and discrimination and with that, the need for gathering power to create social change.
Suffering blatant discrimination while attending law school, Lynn, along with her fellow female students, formed the Women’s Law Association, in order to make their voices heard.
After graduation, and facing opposition in her desire to be a member of the Bar Association, Lynn, former inductee Judge Judith McConnell, and their female colleagues formed the Lawyers Club of San Diego in 1972. Their purpose was to advance the status of women in the legal profession.
In 1972 Lynn, and two other female lawyers took on Grant Grill’s exclusion of female lunch patrons between the hours of 12:00 and 3:00 p.m. While this has become an iconic moment in local feminist history, Lynn saw this as only the tip of the iceberg of larger issues, such as the need for women to have access to property and their own credit. The latter issue prompted her to found the first Women’s Bank of California.
Over the next twenty years Lynn went on to serve as Deputy California Attorney General, California Secretary of Business, Transportation, and Housing, and Counsel Staff for San Diego Gas & Electric. In an ironic twist, Lynn became a professor at USD’s School of Law, the very institute that discriminated against her as a law student.
The 1992 elections made history and were coined “Year of the Woman” as the number of women in Congress doubled from 24 to 48. Making history in her own right during that election, Lynn became the first congresswoman to be elected from California south of Los Angeles.
Ms. Schenk served in the 103rd Congress where she championed San Diego’s and women’s causes, becoming the “mother” of California’s High Speed Rail project. She served on the Governor’s cabinet and became the first woman Chief of Staff to the Governor of California.
Throughout her life, Lynn Schenk has worked towards achieving justice and equality for women through a variety of different paths, empowering women politically, professionally, and financially. She is a true Trailblazer!