Six San Diego Women Who Make a Difference

Chosen from over 200 nominations, these women represent our community.

Every year the Women’s Museum of California kicks off Women’s History Month by honoring women who have made positive impacts in the San Diego community.

In 2001, the four co-hosts of the San Diego County Women’s Hall of Fame organized the first Hall of Fame event to honor and acknowledge women who have made outstanding volunteer contributions and significantly added to the quality of life in San Diego County.

The purpose of the annual induction of women into the Hall of Fame is to make women’s actions and accomplishments visible in San Diego.

The six selected for induction this year are:

GonzalezIrma.jpgTRAILBLAZER Hon. Irma Gonzalez was the first Mexican-American woman to be a federal judge. She was appointed to the United States District Court for the Southern District of California in 1992 and served as Chief Judge from 2005 to 2012. Prior to her appointment to the federal bench, Judge Gonzalez also worked as an assistant U.S. Attorney in the Criminal Prosecution division for the District of Arizona and in Los Angeles, as well as an attorney in private practice. She later served as a U.S. Magistrate judge and a San Diego County Superior Court judge. She retired in 2013 after an almost 30-year judicial career.

maxresdefault.jpgACTIVIST Lilia Velasquez is an attorney who assists immigrants, refugees, asylees, and in particular, undocumented women struggling with domestic violence, sexual abuse, and prostitution. As an attorney, she has been a tireless activist for the most vulnerable in our society. Velasquez moved to the United States at age nineteen, and received her degree in Social Work from San Diego State University. As a social worker, she witnessed the power of the law in helping people. Velasquez went back to school and received her law degree from California Western School of Law. Velasquez frequently makes appearances as an immigration expert on NPR, KPBS, and other media sources.

EMPOWERER Joyce Nower (1932-2010) was a founding member of the Ad Hoc Committee for Women’s Studies at San Diego State University and thus co-founder of the first Women’s Studies program in the United States. Nower was also a co-founder of the community-based Center for Women’s Studies and Services, which was the first Women’s Center in Southern California. Today, The Center is the largest provider of prevention and intervention services in San Diego County for survivors of domestic violence, sexual assault, and stalking. Nower earned her B.A. from Middlebury College, her M.A. from Harvard University, and her Ph.D. from The Union Institute and University, Cincinnati.

EMPOWERER Carol Rowell Council, at age 21, co-founded the Ad Hoc Committee for Women’s Studies at San Diego State University (1969) which then became the first Women’s Studies program in the United States. Her interest in feminism grew from her participation in antiwar and student rights movements. In 1972 she helped found the Center for Women’s Studies and Services (now the Center for Community Solutions), where she was the director for 20 years. Carol Rowell Council has a B.A. in Public Administration from San Diego State University, and an M.F.A. in Art History from Rosary College Villa Schifanoia in Florence, Italy.

BRIDGE BUILDER Dilkhwaz Ahmed is an immigrant women’s rights activist from the Kurdistan region of Iraq. She served as the Executive Director of the Nawa Center, a shelter for abused women in Sulaimanya, Iraq where she provided counseling and support to victims of domestic violence. She coordinated a program in the women’s jail, helping women transition to a life in prison and to gain the skills necessary to survive. In 2002, Ahmed was granted asylum in the United States, and settled in San Diego. Since 2003, Ahmed worked at License to Freedom, where she has helped more than 3,000 adult survivors and child victims of domestic violence.

darlene.jpgHISTORIAN Darlene Davies has been involved in recording the history of San Diego for many decades. She volunteers her time and skills as the Official Historian of the Old Globe in Balboa Park, volunteers and supports the San Diego History Center, and has written the history on the San Diego County Commission on the Status of Women. For Davies, researching and recording history is a responsibility and service she takes on with the utmost care. Davies earned her Master’s Degree in Speech-Language Pathology and worked professionally as therapist and professor.


The induction ceremony is open to the public and will be held on March 5, 2017, 2:30 – 6:00 pm at the Joe and Vi Jacobs Center.
Tickets and details about the 2017 Women’s Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony and Dinner can be found here



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