Past Events

Evening reception for WIL 2022 candidates

2022 was a very successful year for women in politics at all levels of government and across the country, including here in Orange County.  Thanks to your generosity, WIL was able to support a record 40 women who appeared on local ballots. Twenty-seven of them won. Others will win next time they run.

Come meet some of the incredible women who courageously answered the call to run for public office with WIL's support.

It will be fun and inspiring and we hope to see you there!


January Luncheon with Mayors Ashleigh Aitken and Valerie Amezcua

We can't think of a better way to kick off our celebration of WIL's 30-year anniversary than a luncheon with Ashleigh Aitken and Valerie Amezcua, the newly-elected mayors of Anaheim and Santa Ana. Both women were told they would never win, but persisted nevertheless. And now they will be running Orange County's two most populous cities! 

A businesswoman, consumer advocate and former federal prosecutor, Ashleigh Aitken was raised in Anaheim and has been involved in public service in that city and throughout Orange County for decades. She is taking over the reins at city hall at a crucial moment, in the wake of a major corruption scandal and as the city works to tackle affordability and homelessness. She will be the first woman mayor in Anaheim's 165-year history.

Valerie Amezcua served on the Santa Ana Unified School District Board from 2014 to 2022 and was president or vice-president for 5 years. A 30-year veteran of the OC Probation Department, she stepped down from her position in 2017 to devote all her time to her community. When she becomes the first woman mayor in Santa Ana's 153-year history, her top priorities will include expanding workforce housing and reducing homelessness.

Both women have been recognized for their work on numerous occasions and have served on far too many boards and commissions to list here. They are true public servants and community leaders.

Come hear these trailblazers tell about the road they traveled to public office and their plans to move their cities and Orange County forward.




Former U.S. Senator Russ Feingold is currently President of The American Constitution Society (“ACS”), which is dedicated to countering the influence of rightwing ideologues on our judicial system. The ACS is working to elevate principled judges to the federal bench, to focus on state judicial systems where the fate of abortion rights now rests for many American women, and to provide progressive opportunities for law students. 

WIL's good friend Michele Goodwin sits on the ACS Board.


We're thrilled to announce that the speaker at our September luncheon will be Assemblywoman Cottie Petrie-Norris, currently representing Assembly district 74 and a candidate for district 72. Cottie will speak frankly with us about the fallout from Dobbs, and discuss what the state of California is doing to save the rights of women in our state. 

What exactly can California do to help not only women in California, but also throughout the nation? And what role will Proposition 1 play?  And what if our WORST nightmare occurs - if anti-choice forces take control of both houses and the presidency and enact a nationwide abortion ban? Could the state protect us then? 

We always love to hear what Cottie has to say. She's a true straight-talker.


Since she was first elected to Congress in 2018, Katie has been a tireless and fearless advocate for families, consumers, the LGBTQ community, public education, the environment, government accountability, and of course reproductive freedom, which is under attack like never before.

Katie spoke about what's being done (or not being done) to protect reproductive rights at the federal level, and why Orange County will be such a critical battleground in the fight to stop anti-choice forces from taking control of Congress.



Please join us on June 29th as we celebrate our primary victories and get ready to support more amazing WIL candidates in November.

We are hosting our election-year summer fundraiser, so plan on attending this fun event, and be ready to be inspired and generous.

There will be a great silent auction with VIP opportunities, some with our very own WIL-endorsed candidates and elected leaders. All funds raised will go to support WIL-endorsed candidates.

Thank you in advance and see at the Newport Beach Tennis Club patio on the 29th!

WIL March Luncheon

Luncheon With Congresswoman Katie Porter

Katie has become a superstar since she was elected to Congress in 2018. Known as an absolutely fearless leader and tireless advocate for women's rights, she's the real deal in every way. This recent Vanity Fair piece gives a good idea of how Katie got her start and why she's just getting started.  

School Board Updates

Why is so much attention suddenly being paid to our local school boards? Who’s behind all the controversy and confrontations? What’s at stake, and what can we do to protect students? 

A Conversation with WIL-Endorsed City Council Members

Click play for a conversation about their campaigns, the challenges they face as elected women, and how they see the future of city leadership in Orange County.

Sexism in California politics: Has it always been this bad? Will it ever get better?   May 27, 2021

A discussion of sexism in California politics with very special guests Sherry Bebitch Jeffe, Assemblywoman Cottie Petrie-Norris and Supervisor Katrina Foley!

WIL Zoom with The Mayors, March 10, 2021

What a year it's been!

Lunch with UCI Professor Michelle Goodwin, March 12, 2020


We always love having Michele speak to WIL.  She is the Chancellor’s Professor of Law at UCI where she is the founding director of the UCI Center for Biotechnology and Global Health Policy, on the faculty in the Stem Cell Research Center, the Gender and Sexuality Studies Department, the Program in Public Health, and the Department of Criminology, Law, & Society.

Michele has been featured in PoliticoSalon.comForbesThe Washington PostThe New York TimesLos Angeles TimesThe Boston GlobeChicago Sun-TimesNPR and Ms. Magazine among others. She is a nationally recognized scholar in the field of reproductive justice.

Michele brought along copies of her just-released book, Policing the Womb, a chilling study of how states are using criminal laws as a tool to incarcerate, punish and humiliate poor pregnant women, and she signed them for WIL members and guests.  Her talk was inspiring, disconcerting, stimulating and spoke to our most pressing and disturbing issues.  The crowd was large and enthusiastic, notwithstanding the rising concern over coronavirus.  The table were set to allow more social distance than normal.

WIL Reception at Playa Mesa, January 20, 2020



WIL Members and friends joined with many WIL endorsed candidates at Playa Mesa.

WIL sponsored a rare evening reception at Playa Mesa in Costa Mesa where WIL Members and friends joined many WIL endorsed candidates for delicious appetizers and drinks, plus a fun silent auction to raise money to enable WIL to contribute more funds to the campaigns of our endorsed candidates.

Speaker Fiona Ma, California State Treasurer – October 17, 2019

Fiona was a big hit with the many WIL members and friends who attended lunch with Fiona.  She was smart and funny, plus informative. As it turns out, the office of State Treasurer has a big impact on our lives.  Fiona is our State’s chief investment officer, banker and financier of the state government.  She’s in charge of our State bonds and responsible for managing the State's investment accounts. She’s is in control of YOUR tax money.  She is one of only three women to hold one of California’s state-wide executive offices. Look for her to run for Governor one of these days. Fiona was elected State Treasurer in 2018, with WIL’s endorsement. 

Lunch with Rep. Linda Sanchez – Aug 19, 2019

Board_and_LindaSCongresswoman Linda Sanchez with WIL Board members
Jennifer McDonald and Phyllis Roberts.

Linda has been a friend of WIL since she was first elected to the House of Representatives in 2003, representing the 38th Congressional District.  As usual, her talk to a large WIL lunch audience was insightful, blunt and fun. She gave us insight into the dastardly going-on in Congress and provided juicy insight information. We all know and love Linda as a staunch supporter of women’s reproductive rights.


Speaker Connie Leyva with WIL Board Members Isabel Irvine, Jennifer McDonald, Karen Clark and Susan Seely and Past WIL Chair and current Costa Mesa Mayor Katrina Foley.

State Senator Connie Levya, Chair of the California Legislative Women’s Caucus, was our speaker in June 2019.  She is all about helping women.  Not only is she Chair of the California Legislative Women’s Caucus, but she also serves on both the California Commission on the Status of Women and Girls and the Senate Select Committee on Women and Inequality.  She was the perfect person to help us understand how women in California are faring both in the State Legislature and in the State as a whole.  She told us about how she ended up becoming a labor activist which eventually propelled her, due to a series of serendipitous opportunities and helpful mentors, to her current powerful position.

Post Primary Election Results Luncheon June 13th 

June 13, 2018

Costa Mesa Mayoral Candidate Katrina Foley, former Congresswoman Loretta Sanchez, WIL Board members Eileen Padberg, Karen Clark, and Susan Seely, and Belinda De la Libertad 
Jone Pearce, Republican Eileen Padberg, former Congresswoman Loretta Sanchez, and Democrat Louise Adler


The WIL lunch on June 13 was one of our most successful ever, with over 70 in attendance, including many women who are running for office.  Our topic was "NOW WHAT???  THE PRIMARIES ARE OVER; WHAT DOES IT ALL MEAN?" and featured three political gurus, Republican Eileen Padberg, Democrat Louise Adler and Congresswoman Loretta Sanchez.  After lots of eye-opening facts about the results of the primary, the take-away was that, if we want to flip Congress and also get local candidates elected who support reproductive rights, we will all have to work harder than ever.  This means not only donating to these gutsy women, but making phone calls, walking precincts and giving fundraisers.  It will not be easy, but we can't stand still if we want to stem the tide and start to move our country in the right direction.

Dr. Jennefer Russo Lunch Event at Antonello's

April 13, 2018

Dr. Jennefer Russo

Dr. Jennefer Russo, Medical Director of Planned Parenthood of Orange and San Bernardino Counties, spoke to an enthusiastic crowd of WIL members and friends on April 13 at Antonello’s. 

So many of us came to the lunch believing we know everything important there is to know about Planned Parenthood, but we soon learned we were wrong.  Jennefer provided many new facts, figures and insights about Planned Parenthood and its impact on the lives of women and girls, as well as men.  She also discussed the dark side, namely the increasing threats facing Planned Parenthood and women’s reproductive rights generally.

Jennefer stressed the fact that pregnancy rates have plummeted with increasing availability of family planning.  The Title X Family Planning Program, enacted under President Nixon in 1970, has provided millions of Americans with affordable planning services.  More than one and five women seek care from Planned Parenthood at some point in their lives. Funding for Planned Parenthood is now threatened. While family planning funding is being cut, the federal government is putting its dollars into abstinence programs and “Crisis Pregnancy Centers” – centers that appear to unknowing women to be either abortion clinics or unbiased counseling services, but which are actually anti-choice centers designed to pressure women into not having abortions.

Jennefer spoke of the lack of sex education in our community, notwithstanding the state requirement that it be taught in every school district. Planned Parenthood is now the single largest provider of sex education in the U.S. with a comprehensive curriculum covering birth control, STI’s, consent, puberty, communication skills, and decision making to kids, teens, young adults, adults, and parents.

One alarming trend discussed by Jennefer was the promotion of an alleged “abortion reversal medication” along with recent legislative attempts to require that women be notified of its existence despite no scientific proof that it works.

The following two websites were provided where we can obtain additional reproductive news:

Rewire.News – Reproductive and sexual health, rights and justice.

Guttmacher Institute -  A leading research and policy organization committed to advancing sexual and reproductive health and rights in the US and globally.


Delaine Eastin Lunch Event at Antonello's

February 16, 2018

Thank you to Delaine Eastin for being our guest speaker. Delaine is a longtime WIL friend, former CA State Superintendent of Public Instruction, and currently the only woman running to become our next California Governor. Delaine spoke to a room packed with WIL fans on the importance of budgets being statements of our values. The lunch crowd loved her talk and engaged  with her in a spirited discussion on the current state of California.  

Delaine Eastin 
Frieda Caplan, Delaine Eastin, and Eileen Padberg


January 20, 2018 - Women's March OC
A Big THANK YOU to all those who came out to participate in the OC Women's March on January 20th in Santa Ana.

Now that the march is over, we must keep the momentum going for women's rights.  Join WIL today and get connected in our community to help women candidates who are dedicated to keeping access to full reproductive rights elected to local, regional, and state-wide office. 


Lynne Riddle & Lorraine Prinsky 


Linda Oeth & Nancy Skinner 


Sue Michelson, Karen Clark, & Linda Oeth


Karol Gottfredson & Eileen Padberg


Lorraine Prinsky with Greg Louganis





Lunch with Jon Dunn

November 10, 2017

Jon Dunn has been the President and CEO of Planned Parenthood, Orange County and San Bernardino for 24 years!  In fact, our Board member Tricia Nichols was on the Board of PP when Jon was hired.

PPAC’s mission is to create a personally and politically safe climate in which individuals have universal and unfettered access to sexual and reproductive health service and are free to follow their own beliefs, values and moral code when making decisions about these services.

The political arm of Planned Parenthood Affiliates of California (PPAC), known as the Community Action Fund, is a 501(c)(4) organization and is a force to be reckoned with.

Planned Parenthood believes in an informed electorate. The Community Action Fund distributes its voter guides, and builds strategies to defeat candidates or incumbents who do not support reproductive freedom. Planned Parenthood was the sponsor of the huge women’s march on March 21. 

The Community Action Fund is totally focused on the 2018 elections.  It is doing some exciting things aimed at making significant legislative changes.  Planned Parenthood is also planning another march!


Planned Parenthood CEO Jon Dunn.

WIL Members and Friends enjoy lunch at Antonello's.


Lunch with L. Song Richardson

October 18, 2017

L. Song Richardson succeeded Erwin Chemerinsky to become Interim Dean of the UCI School of Law in July 2017. She is a multi-dimensional scholar with expertise involving the areas of Criminal Law and Criminal Procedure; Law and Social Science; and Law, Equality and Race. A graduate of Harvard University and Yale Law School, Song gave a compelling talk about unconscious biases and how they impact women striving to be successful leaders to a sold-out crowd of WIL members and guests at Antonello’s Restaurant. For more information on this topic, please view the report on the Perception Institute’s website.

Karol Gottfredson and L. Song Richardson
Karol Gottfredson and L. Song Richardson
Susan Seely, Mayor of Costa Mesa Katrina Foley, and L. Song Richardson
Susan Seely, Mayor of Costa Mesa Katrina Foley, and L. Song Richardson
Melinda Seely presents a gift to retiring WIL board member Pat Schuler
Melinda Seely presents a gift to retiring WIL board member Pat Schuler

Summer Reception

June 28, 2017

Women in Leadership kicked off summer with a reception to “Meet the Women of WIL” at Ecco Pizzeria in Costa Mesa. Hosted by WIL board members Mary Bayer and Jill Kanzler, members and guests were treated to wine and pizza as they learned more about WIL and met several of our candidates and elected officials.

WIL members and guests at Summer Reception
WIL members and guests at Summer Reception
Coast District Trustee Lorraine Prinsky, Liz McNabb, Karol Gottfredson and Sue Leibel
Coast District Trustee Lorraine Prinsky, Liz McNabb, Karol Gottfredson and Sue Leibel
Mayor of Costa Mesa Katrina Foley with Kim Bennett
Mayor of Costa Mesa Katrina Foley with Kim Bennett

Lunch with Assemblywoman Sharon Quirk-Silva

June 9, 2017

Sharon is one of WIL’s success stories, having won two out of her last three assembly races with WIL’s support. She is the only woman among Orange County’s seven state assembly members, and one of only two pro-choice members from Orange County. At our June lunch, Sharon shared with us how governing is working in Sacramento in 2017 and what our state government can do to fight back against the Trump assault on the basic rights of women.

Pat Schuler, Assemblywoman Sharon Quirk-Silva and Karen Clark
Pat Schuler, Assemblywoman Sharon Quirk-Silva and Karen Clark
Katherine Grazia and Assemblywoman Sharon Quirk-Silva
Katherine Grazia and Assemblywoman Sharon Quirk-Silva

Lunch with Joan Biskupic

May 11, 2017

Joan Biskupic
Joan Biskupic is one of the nation's leading experts on the U.S. Supreme Court, as editor of legal affairs at Reuters, a CNN legal analyst and Pulitzer prize finalist Supreme Court biographer and regular on PBS’s Washington Week. She was at UCI as a visiting professor at the UCI Law School. Joan provided us with fascinating inside information on the workings of the Supreme Court and the personalities of the various justices, whom she knows personally from the many interviews she has done with them over 25 years.

Lunch with Mark Petracca

April 11, 2017

Mark Petracca is an Associate Professor of Political Science and Associate Dean of the School of Social Sciences at UCI. He was a quick-witted and entertaining speaker, taking nearly 70 WIL members and guests through the fascinating history of Orange County politics. He also provided a glimmer of hope about the changing landscape of party politics in Orange County, reminding us that Hillary Clinton did win Orange County – the first Democrat to do so in many, many

Karen Clark, Mark Petracca, Lorraine Prinsky and Pat Schuler
Karen Clark, Mark Petracca, Lorraine Prinsky and Pat Schuler
Jone Pearce with WIL members and guests
Jone Pearce with WIL members and guests

Lunch with Michelle Goodwin

March 15, 2017

Michele Goodwin is the Chancellor’s Professor of Law at UCI and holds appointments in the UCI Departments of Public Health and Gender and Sexuality Studies.  She is a nationally recognized scholar in the field of reproductive justice. Her most recent book, Policing the Womb, is a chilling study of how states are using criminal laws as a tool to incarcerate, punish and humiliate poor pregnant women. Michele gave a dynamic, rousing talk about the way women’s rights are eroding under the reign of Trump.

Davida Hopkins Parham, Michelle Goodwin and Allyson Sonenshine
Davida Hopkins Parham, Michelle Goodwin and Allyson Sonenshine