Today our own Annie LaVerdure-O’Brien spoke in front of a packed ballroom at the Equity Foundation’s inaugural Women’s Leadership Luncheon. Annie, who serves as the Equity Foundation’s vice chair, chaired the event.
The luncheon was held at the Portland Art Museum and paid tribute to Gov. Barbara Roberts and PSU Women’s Basketball Coach Sherri Murrell. Both women were praised for their roles in leading the fight for equity in Oregon.
Gov. Roberts shared a harrowing story about what started her political career: She decided to speak up and fight for equal rights for all when she realized that the law did not protect her autistic son. In 1984, she was the first Democrat to be elected as Oregon Secretary of State in 100 years. For her inauguration, she had the Portland Gay Men’s Chorus perform and interestingly, it is widely believed that before this no other gay identified chorus had sung for any state’s inauguration of a statewide elected official. Pretty cool, huh? We think so.
Coach Murrell, who was honored for her courage and leadership as the only openly gay division 1 women’s basketball coach in the US, inspired all of us in the room when she shared that six years ago she decided this: When it came to her job, she was simply going to be herself. She spoke against the rampant homophobia in the world of sports and advocated for the spread of love, acceptance and understanding toward our fellow human beings.
In addition to Gov. Roberts and Coach Murrell, those of us attending the event also got to listen to Rachel Jackson, an aspiring medical school student and 2011 Pride of the Rose Scholar as well as Sports broadcaster Ann Schatz, who served as MC during the luncheon.
All in all, the Equity Foundation’s inaugural Women’s Leadership Luncheon was a great success and all of us at LVD Media feel proud to honor these amazing women as they make strides for this noble cause.