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2004 Distinguished Alumna Award-winner
Women’s Center To Honor Arizona’s Trailblazing Gov. Janet Napolitano

April 7, 2004 -- In 2003, Janet Napolitano, a 1983 U.Va. Law School graduate, became the 21st governor of Arizona and the first woman to succeed another woman as any state’s governor. In recognition of her accomplishments in law and public service, the University of Virginia Women’s Center will honor Napolitano with its 2004 Distinguished Alumna Award on April 21.

Napolitano will give a public lecture, “Closing the Leadership Gap: The Necessity for Women in Leadership Positions,” April 21 at 4:15 p.m. in the Law School’s Caplin Auditorium. A reception will follow her talk, which is part of the Women’s Center series, “Virginia 2020: Innovations in Public Service.”

After graduating from Santa Clara University, where she won a prestigious Truman scholarship, Napolitano attended the U.Va. School of Law. During that time, she held a Dillard Fellowship, a student mentoring program that focuses on legal research and writing, and was elected to the Raven Society, the University’s honor society for academic achievement and service to U.Va.

Early in her legal career, she successfully argued before the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals that churches should be protected from governmental searches, in the now-famous sanctuary case. She also served on the team that represented Anita Hill in the U.S. Senate confirmation hearings for Supreme Court nominee Clarence Thomas.

Napolitano became the U.S. attorney for the district of Arizona in 1993, and in 1998, was elected attorney general of the state. As attorney general, she was a fierce protector of children and a tireless advocate for women, senior citizens and the environment. She created the first Office for Women as part of the attorney general’s office, making issues affecting women a top priority.

In 2002, Napolitano entered Arizona’s gubernatorial race, campaigning on a plan to eliminate the state’s $1 billion budget deficit, stimulate the economy and save Arizona’s deteriorating public schools. She won the election with the support of a broad coalition of voters, building a bipartisan base as a Democrat in a strong Republican state.

In addition to her public talk, Napolitano will meet with several groups of undergraduates and law students, and be honored at a gala dinner for the Women’s Center.

Contacts: Anne Bromley, (434) 924-6861 or Cescely Porter, (434) 982-2911

FOR ADDITIONAL INFORMATION: Contact the Office of University Relations at (434) 924-7116. Television reporters should contact the TV News Office at (434) 924-7550.

SOURCE: U.Va. News Services

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