Justice JUANITA WESTMORELAND-TRAORE, OQ.
Juanita Westmoreland-Traoré, OQ (born March 10, 1942) is the first appointed black judge in the history of Quebec. She also holds the distinction of being the first black dean of a law school (the University of Windsor Faculty of Law) in Canada’s history.
Westmoreland-Traoré, was born in Verdun, now part of Montreal, Quebec, in 1942, the daughter of immigrants from Guyana. She studied at Marianopolis College, and subsequently obtained a law degree from the Université de Montréal (1966) and a doctorate from the University of Paris. She was called to the Quebec Bar in 1969, and began practicing law in 1970 with the law firm of Mergler, Melançon. She has also been a member of the Ontario Bar since 1997. During the 1970’s, Westmoreland-Traoré taught at the Université de Montréal, and from 1976 to 1991 at the Université du Québec à Montréal.
Westmoreland-Traoré was a member of the Office de protection des consommateurs du Québec from 1979 to 1983. From 1983 to 1985, she was a Commissioner for the Canadian Human Rights Commission. In 1985, she became the first chair of Quebec’s Conseil des communautés culturelles et de l’immigration. From 1991 to 1995, she was Employment Equity Commissioner of Ontario.
In 1991, she was made an Officer of the National Order of Quebec. Westmoreland-Traoré has received other awards, including from Canadian Jewish Congress, the Montreal Association of Black Business Persons and Professionals, and the Canadian Bar Association. In 2008, she was awarded the Quebec Human Rights Commission’s Rights and Liberties Prize for her career-long fight against discrimination.
In 2005 Judge Juanita Westmoreland-Traoré of the Court of Quebec was awarded the Touchstone Award.
The Touchstone Award celebrates the accomplishments of an individual who has excelled in promoting equality in the legal profession, the judiciary or the legal community in Canada. The award recognizes significant national initiatives to advance equality and/or contribution relating to race, disability, sexual orientation or other diversity issues in the community.
Major SHAWNA ROCHELLE KIMBRELL
Shawna Rochelle Kimbrell is a major in the United States Air Force, and the First female African-American fighter pilot in the history of that service. She flies the F-16 Fighting Falcon. Kimbrell was born in Lafayette, Indiana, on April 20, 1976, to Guyanese parents. Her mother and father, who were naturalized U.S. citizens by the time she was born, moved to the U.S. for education and opportunities. Their hard work and dedication paid off in her father earning a degree from Howard University and a doctorate from Purdue University, which in turn earned him a job offer in Parker, Colo.
The Parker, Colo., native initially wanted to be an astronaut, but decided it would be more fun to fly a fighter jet.
“I fell in love with the idea of the freedom of flying and after my first flight lesson at age 14, I never looked back,” said Major Kimbrell, who is currently the flight commander of Aircrew Flight Equipment.
It was that determination which led Major Kimbrell to become the first female African-American fighter pilot in the Air Force.
“I am still amazed that in this day and age there is still so much room for firsts especially for females and for African-Americans,” Major Kimbrell said. “It is an important step for progression and although I am not fond of the spotlight I think it is important for people to know that this barrier has been breached. Especially for the African-American community and for women to know what types of opportunities are available to them.”
Up until only 15 years ago, piloting a multi-million dollar, multi-role F-16 combat aircraft was reserved solely for men. Then, in 1993, the secretary of defense permitted women to enter fighter pilot training. Although women have been entering pilot training since 1976, before 1993, government officials did not believe women had “what it took” for combat.
Major Kimbrell knew she “had what it took” and after graduating from the Air Force Academy in 1998 and went on to complete intense pilot training receiving her pilot wings in August, 1999.
“Pilot training was one of the best times in my life and I made some life-long friendships,” Major Kimbrell said. “For two years, every move you make is graded and scrutinized.”
Eager to make it as a fighter pilot in a field with a limited number of pilot slots Major Kimbrell pushed herself to constantly improve.
“I was in constant competition with myself, trying to do better, to make the grade,” she said. “There were times when I didn’t think that I was going to make it through. It was in those times I learned to be humble and realize there is a point in everyone’s struggle – no matter how strong they are — when they need help, and the key is to seek it out before it is too late.”
There are more than 14,000 pilots in the U.S. Air Force — about 3,700 of those are fighter pilots. But in that group, only 70 are women.
Pursuing a career in a male-dominated field was just one of several challenges Major Kimbrell had to overcome.
“I was never apprehensive about pursuing my dream, despite the challenges,” said Major Kimbrell. “I don’t think that I actually grasped how few of us there were. Honestly it was not something that I had time to concern myself with. There was the physical challenge of not having perfect eyesight, which at one point I was told would disqualify me from flying. There are continued challenges with flight gear, uniforms and equipment that are designed and optimized for men.”
Another challenge Major Kimbrell faced throughout her career and growing up was the struggle of being an African-American woman, who at times was viewed as being different than other people.
“There are still a lot of unresolved racial issues in the U.S. and they spill over into every walk of life and every workspace,” said Major Kimbrell, the only female pilot stationed at Aviano Air Base. “When I go somewhere new, people tend to look at me differently, mostly because of who I am and it is the subtle ways that people treat me differently that make it challenging. The unfortunate fact is that being a black woman is a constant struggle.”
Dealing with that bias, whether malicious or not, has caused Major Kimbrell to try even harder to succeed in life.
“I have made it to this point in my life by setting goals and being determined to meet them no matter how long it takes,” she said. “At the end of the day, if I have put forth the maximum effort, I can live with myself and that is one of the most important parts of this struggle.”
Throttling through those challenges became worthwhile when Major Kimbrell received her first operational assignment to Misawa Air Base, Japan.
“The turning point in my career was when I arrived at Misawa. It was like a whole new world of options opened up to me,” she said. “I flew my first combat sortie in 2001 in Operation Northern Watch. The sorties were actually anticlimactic until I recognized that people were actually shooting at us.”
The most recent and as yet unresolved challenge is how having a baby and raising a family fits in with her career progression.
“The real turning point in my life was when I gave birth to my son in August of 2006,” she said. “On that day my life took on an amazing new meaning.”
Making the decision to have a baby could have been career-ending for Major Kimbrell. For safety reasons, women pilots can no longer fly once they become pregnant. They are kept out of the cockpit for nine months, plus recovery time.
“When a pilot is out of the jet for that amount of time a significant amount of retraining is required and it normally takes place outside of the squadron, back at the school house,” said Major Kimbrell. “This has the potential to be detrimental to a woman’s progression and continues to be a challenge for myself and other women fighter pilots.”
Finding that balance between career and family is something Major Kimbrell strives for, and she credits the lessons she’s learned from both aspects as defining who she is.
“While being a fighter pilot is exhilarating, I would not say that it defines me, I would say that is has refined me. I continue to learn and improve and it has really taught me to strive for perfection in everything that I do. It has taught me that sometimes you fall short of your goals but there is never a time to give up.”
Female fighter pilots in the military have recently created a Web site to help bring together and strengthen the camaraderie of women pilots. The “Chick Fighter Pilot Association, www.fighterchicks.com, has three goals: Encourage and strengthen mutual support in our unique environment, help each other succeed and provide a professional and social network for women in fighter roles.
“It is very important that we have an open line of communication among the women of this community because there are certain daily challenges that we face that should not have to be tackled by each of us separately,” said Major Kimbrell.
Major Kimbrell has flown the F-16, T-38, T-37 and T-3 and has logged more than 945 flying hours in the F-16, including 176 combat hours. Her military decorations include the Air Medal with one device, Aerial Achievement Medal, Air Force Commendation Medal with one device, Army Commendation Medal, National Defense Service Medal, Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal, Iraq Campaign Medal, Global War on Terrorism Service Medal and the Korean Defense Service Medal.
Major Kimbrell is married with 2 children.
Sanya Richards-Ross (born February 26, 1985 in Kingston, Jamaica) is a Jamaican American track and field athlete who competes internationally for the United States. Richards-Ross won the Olympic gold medal in the 4×400 meters relay at the 2004 Olympic Games in Athens, the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing, China and in the London 2012 Olympics. She won the individual bronze medal at the 2008 Olympics for the 400m. The following year, Richards-Ross became World Champion, winning a gold medal in the 400 meter race at the 2009 World Championships in Berlin. She won the gold medal in the 400m at the 2012 Olympics.
Born in Kingston, Jamaica, on February 26, 1985, Sanya Richards-Ross moved to the United States with her family at the age of 12. They lived in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, a place her parents would better suit their aspiring track star’s career. Richards-Ross demonstrated her talents early on, scoring a silver medal in the 400-meter event and a bronze medal in the 200-meter event at the 2002 World Junior Championships. That same year, she was named the Gatorade National High School Girls Track & Field Athlete of the Year.
While a student at the University of Texas, Richards-Ross became the 2003 NCAA 400-meter champion. That same year, she won the NCAA Indoor Championship in the 200-meter event. Competing at the 2004 Summer Olympics, Richards-Ross helped bring home gold in the 400-meter relay. As a freshman, Sanya won the NCAA national championship in the 400 meters with a time of 50.58. After her sophomore year in 2004, she turned pro.
At the Athens Olympics in 2004, Richards was part of the US team which finished first in the 4×400 meters relay. She has won a silver medal in the 400 meters at 2005 World Championships in Athletics. In 2006, together with Jeremy Wariner (400 m) and Asafa Powell (100 m) she won her sixth out of six IAAF Golden League events in the same season, which earned her a total of $250,000. She broke Valerie Brisco-Hooks’ US record of 48.83 with a 48.70 at the end of the 2006 season and was named IAAF 2006 Female World Athlete of the Year. After failing to qualify for the 400 m at the 2007 World Championships in Athletics in Osaka due to illness which caused her to finish fourth in the US trials, Richards-Ross was the favourite to win gold in the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing and qualified fastest for the final, but went out of the blocks too quickly and was overtaken in the finishing straight by Christine Ohuruogu of Great Britain and Shericka Williams of Jamaica, consigning her to the bronze medal.
During the 2009 season, Sanya took the 400 m national title in 50.05 seconds, finishing over half a second faster than the second placed Debbie Dunn. Although she expected faster times, she stated that winning the 2009 World Championships in Berlin was her number one goal. A win in 49.46 s at the Golden Gala in Rome broke Marita Koch’s record for most sub-50 second runs, bringing Richards’ career total to 36. Coming up to the World Championships, Sanya won her fourth Golden League race in the 400 m with the time of 49.34 seconds and won her first global championship in the 400 m at the 2009 IAAF World Athletics Championships in Berlin with a world leading time of 49.00 seconds. Sanya also anchored team USA to a gold medal in the women’s 4 x 400 m relay in the sixth fastest time in history of 3.17.83 minutes, Richards-Ross split time in the relay was unofficially 48.43 seconds. After a career defining World Championships, Richards-Ross went on to win her final two Golden League races with a new world leading times of 48.94 seconds (Zurich) and 48.83 seconds (Brussels) to share in the $1M dollar jackpot with men’s 3000 m/5000 m winner Kenenisa Bekele and women’s pole vault winner Yelena Isinbayeva, each receiving US$333,333; this was the third time Richards had won the Golden League Jackpot. Sanya Richards-Ross ended her massive season on a high by winning silver in the 200 m at the IAAF World Athletics Final behind world champion Allyson Felix with a time of 22.29 seconds, and by winning gold in the 400m with a time of 49.95 seconds; achieving her 41st sub-50 second 400m run.
After an injury that prematurely ended her 2010 season, Sanya bounced back in 2011 to run a 49.66 just prior to the World Championships in Daegu, South Korea. She wound up seventh, however, in the final. Sanya later returned to top form in the 4×400 m relay, this time running the lead-off leg in 49.1, setting the team up for victory. It was her record fifth gold medal from the World Championships.
At the 2012 London Olympics on August 5, 2012, Sanya finished the women’s 400m in 49.55 to win the gold medal for the US. Richards-Ross also ran the anchor leg of the gold medal-winning US women’s 4x400m relay team. Following the Olympics, Richards-Ross won the remaining Diamond League meetings over 400m in Stockholm (49.89) and Zurich (50.21. The win in Stockholm improved her career total of sub-50 second races to an unchallenged 46.
Sanya Richards-Ross’ sponsorship deals include Nike, Inc, BP, BMW and Citibank. In August 2007, Sanya was signed as a global brand spokesperson for Nutrilite, the world’s leading brand of vitamin, mineral and dietary supplements.
Ms. Richards-Ross is married to her college boyfriend, Aaron Ross, a professional football player. He played with the New York Giants from 2007 to 2011, and is now a member of the Jacksonville Jaguars. Outside of competition, Richards-Ross runs the Sanya Richards Fast Track Program to help children in her native nation, Jamaica.
KAMALA D. HARRIS
On January 3, 2011, Kamala D. Harris was sworn in as the 32nd Attorney General of the State of California. She is the first woman, the first African American to hold the office in the history of California.
As chief law enforcement officer for the state, Attorney General Harris has focused on combating transnational gangs that are trafficking guns, drugs, and human beings throughout California. She has worked to increase the adoption of technology and data-driven policing to assist law enforcement in the efficient investigation and prosecution of crime, and has traveled to every region of California to expand partnerships with local law enforcement.
She is the daughter of an Indian mother, Dr. Shyamala Gopalan—a breast cancer specialist who emigrated from Chennai, India, to the United States in 1960, and a Jamaican American father, Stanford University economics professor Donald Harris.
Harris grew up in a household that combined Hindu and Baptist teachings. She was raised in Berkeley, Oakland, and Montreal, where her mother took a position doing research at the Jewish General Hospital and teaching at McGill University.
Harris attended Howard University in Washington, D.C., where she was initiated into Alpha Kappa Alpha sorority, and received her Juris Doctor (J.D.) from University of California, Hastings College of the Law in 1989. She was admitted to the California bar in 1990.
Harris served as a Deputy District Attorney in Alameda County, California, from 1990 to 1998. After 1998, she became Managing Attorney of the Career Criminal Unit in the San Francisco District Attorney’s Office. In 2000, San Francisco City Attorney Louise Renne recruited Harris to join her office, where she was Chief of the Community and Neighborhood Division, which oversees civil code enforcement matters. Recognized by The Los Angeles Daily Journal as one of the top 100 lawyers in California, Harris serves on the board of the California District Attorney’s Association and is Vice President of the National District Attorneys Association.
In 2003 Harris was elected District Attorney of San Francisco by defeating two term incumbent Terence Hallinan and was reelected when she ran unopposed in 2007.
She was called a front-runner in her campaign being nominated to be California Attorney General in 2010, and on June 8, 2010, she received the Democratic nomination for California Attorney General.
In 2009, Harris wrote Smart on Crime: A Career Prosecutor’s Plan to Make Us Safer. Harris looks at criminal justice from an economic perspective, attempting to reduce temptation and access for criminals. The book goes through a series of “myths” surrounding the criminal justice system, and presents proposals to reduce and prevent crime.
She has been outspoken on the need for innovation in public safety, particularly with respect to reducing the recidivism rate in San Francisco. One such program, “Back on Track” was signed into law by Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger as a model program for the state. Initially, there were issues with removing illegal immigrants from the program, including an incident involving Alexander Izaguirre, who was later arrested for assault. However, before the program was named a state model by Governor Schwarzenegger, it was revised to address this concern.
Harris has been mentioned as a possible nominee for a seat on the United States Supreme Court, should a seat on that court become vacant during the second Obama administration.
Her Excellency MARGARITA CEDENO de FERNANDEZ
Margarita Cedeño de Fernández is the current Vice-President and former First Lady of the Dominican Republic. She is the wife of former President Leonel Fernández. When she was the First Lady, she and her staff coordinate social policies for her husband’s administration, generating programs of health and education for children, young people, single mothers and the family, in general, as a key element in society.
She has experience in the private sector where she was part of prestigious law firms in the Dominican Republic, among which the law firm of Doctor Abel Rodríguez del Orbe and Fernández y Asociados, where she is an associate member. During the years 1996-2000, she assisted as legal counselor to the President nominated as Sub-secretary of State. Besides being ad honorem counselor and director of the Legal and Investment Environment Management of the Office for the Promotion of Foreign Investment of the Dominican Republic.
She has a Doctorate in Law from the Autonomous University of Santo Domingo and a Masters in Economic Legislation from the Pontificia Universidad Católica Madre y Maestra. She also has participated in courses and seminars at Georgetown and Harvard University in the United States and Geneva University in Switzerland.
She was elected Vice President alongside the next President, Danilo Medina on 20 May 2012. She would be the second woman to serve as Vice-President, after Milagros Ortiz Bosch was elected with former President, Hipolito Mejia in 2000-2004.
On 16 October 2009, Margarita Cedeño de Fernández was named Goodwill Ambassador of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO).