Lee Sturtevant named Woman of the Year

March 10, 2008

Lee Sturtevant, whose distinguished career has stretched from classrooms in Cupertino to the halls of the Legislature in Sacramento, has been named Assembly District 24’s “Woman of the Year’’ by Assemblymember Jim Beall, Jr.

She was honored March 10 on the floor of the Assembly for a lifetime devoted to improving education and helping the disadvantaged. Recognition of her tireless work was part of the Legislature’s observance of Women’s History Month. And in her way, Sturtevant has played a role in helping to write a part of that history in Santa Clara County.

Over years, Sturtevant has continually worked within the democratic process to help raise the standard of living for those who have the least.

“I want to make things better,’’ she said, “particularly for people who are the bottom of the ladder, so to speak. So, I figured the best way to do this was to try to get people elected who would pass the kind of legislation that would make things better."

Sturtevant, who has sought to get women involved in politics and to run for office, successfully managed the 1974 campaign of Assemblywoman Leona Egeland, who was at that time the only woman serving in the Assembly.

“She was really important in the Seventies,’’ said Terry Christensen, a San Jose State University political science professor, “in getting that first significant group of women voted into city and state office.’’

As a high school student, she was introduced to politics and its ability to benefit society by her mother who took her to Los Angeles County Democratic Central Committee meetings. As a young girl, Sturtevant once shared lunch with Eleanor Roosevelt.

Now, she serves as a policy advisor for the office of Santa Clara County Supervisor Ken Yeager. She has also worked on the staffs of U.S. Reps. Zoe Lofgren and Mike Honda, Supervisor Blanca Alvarado, state Sen. Dan McCorquodale, and Assemblymember Manny Diaz. She was also a staffer for Assemblymember Beall when he served as a Santa Clara County supervisor.

Her career also includes working as a teacher and librarian for the Cupertino School District in addition to serving on the San Jose Unified School District Board of Education.

“Lee Sturtevant,’’ Beall said, “has made our community a better place to live. She’s an inspiration to all of us.’’