President's Message

Jennifer Leland
WLALA President 2019-2020

September 2019

It seems like only yesterday that I was installed as WLALA’s Communications Officer and now I am writing my first President’s Message. Time flies! I am truly honored to serve as the next President of WLALA and look forward to the year as we mark the organization’s 100th anniversary. We will be kicking off our celebration of this incredible milestone with a Centennial Celebration on Saturday, September 21, 2019 at the Intercontinental Hotel downtown. Yes, Saturday night! And there will be dancing too. Bring your spouse, significant other or friends and pay tribute to 100 years of WLALA’s empowering women in the law and in the community and the advancement of women’s rights. We are honoring three inspiring award recipients: the Honorable Holly J. Fujie, Los Angeles Superior Court Judge; Nancy Mintie, founder of the Inner City Law Center and Uncommon Good; and the ACLU of Southern California. Brenda Feigen – attorney, producer, co-director of the ACLU’s Women’s Right Project and the author of Not One of the Boys: Living Life as a Feminist – will provide a keynote address. If you haven’t already, please register to attend by clicking HERE. We’ve got some surprises planned!



In addition to celebrating, I am excited to get to work on the first chapter of WLALA’s next 100 years. In her famous letter dated March 31, 1776, future First Lady Abigail Adams wrote to John Adams urging him to remember women when drafting America’s new laws: “I long to hear that you have declared an independency. And, by the way, in the new code of laws which I suppose it will be necessary for you to make, I desire you would remember the ladies and be more generous and favorable to them than your ancestors. . . . If particular care and attention is not paid to the ladies, we are determined to foment a rebellion, and will not hold ourselves bound by any laws in which we have no voice or representation.” John Adams purportedly called her “saucy” and declined her request. It would be another 144 years before the 19th Amendment giving women the right to vote would be ratified. Yet, even after passage of this amendment, women continued to face exclusion. They were still not permitted to serve on a jury except in all but a handful of states, were largely prevented from receiving a law degree and practicing law, could be fired for becoming pregnant and could not legally access birth control. Women of color faced even greater restrictions. It would take decades to change society’s perceptions about gender roles and shatter stereotypes that left women behind.

Thankfully, many opportunities that were once not possible are now taken for granted, but there still is work to be done. There are glass ceilings to be shattered, pay gaps to be closed, workplace discrimination to be eliminated and, as brought to light by the #MeToo Movement, sexual harassment to be acknowledged, believed and accounted for. Women’s reproductive and health rights also have increasingly come under attack. For the past 100 years, WLALA has been involved in the fight for gender equality, working to inspire and empower women to break down barriers for themselves and others. Now, as much as ever, WLALA has an important role to play in the continuing fight for equality and fairness. I urge all of you to be saucy, to “remember the ladies” and continue WLALA’s mission by lifting each other up and advocating for what we deserve.