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Policy Leadership

August 9, 2006


Cecilia Laiché

TCWF (818) 702-1900

Departing Public Officials Receive Foundation Recognition for Leadership in Policy Arena

Sen. Martha Escutia, Attorney General Bill Lockyer and Sen. Jackie Speier Receive 2006 TCWF Public Policy Leadership Award

Sacramento — The California Wellness Foundation (TCWF) presented its 2006 Public Policy Leadership Award to three California state public officials who have influenced millions of lives by advancing public policies that promote the health of Californians. The honorees are: Sen. Martha Escutia, Attorney General Bill Lockyer and Sen. Jackie Speier. The three departing public officials were recognized at a ceremony in Sacramento on August 9, 2006.

“There seems to be a prevailing sense of cynicism about public officials these days — so much so that we don’t hear often enough about the kind of dedicated service exemplified by our three honorees,” said Gary L. Yates, TCWF president and CEO. “Senators Escutia and Speier and Attorney General Lockyer deserve to be recognized for their dedication to improving the health of underserved Californians and their leadership in the public policy arena.”

Sen. Martha Escutia has devoted more than 14 years to public service and is being recognized for ensuring that California’s diverse populations have access to culturally and linguistically competent health care and for her attention to the health of young people. She championed a bill to mandate commercial health plans provide language services — specifically, oral interpretation and translated documents to those who need them. Throughout her legislative career, she has consistently advocated for universal health care for children. She has also successfully advanced bills to address childhood obesity and protect children from unhealthy levels of air contaminants. Sen. Escutia established the Children's Environmental Health Protection Act and was responsible for California initiating an environmental health tracking network.

Attorney General Lockyer, who has spent 30 years in public service, is being recognized for his leadership in addressing violence against youth as a public health issue — going beyond enforcement and looking deeper at the root causes of the problem. Attorney General Lockyer’s efforts have included: promoting gang prevention and offering after-school programs for youth; breaking the cycle of violence by reducing children’s exposure to domestic violence; offering mediation services for communities in conflict; and emphasizing the important role of the California Attorney General’s Crime and Violence Prevention Center to bring law enforcement and communities together to work on solutions. During his tenure as attorney general, he also stressed actions to reduce youth access to tobacco and maintained one of the nation’s most aggressive tobacco control enforcements.

Sen. Jackie Speier has worked for more than 25 years in public service. She is being recognized for her efforts to expand health care coverage and prevent injury and death caused by violence — especially among youth. Speier advocated for job-based health care coverage and wrote the law to help Medicare-eligible seniors and the disabled save on their medication purchases with the Prescription Drug Discount Bill. She advanced the legislation that created the Office of Women’s Health to coordinate state services and serve as a clearinghouse for information on women’s health data and programs. As a young woman, she was left to die as a victim of gun violence. Sen. Speier used that terrifying experience to fuel her efforts to advance landmark gun control legislation — a strategy that has a solid track record for reducing violence against youth.

“It is truly a pleasure to have this opportunity to honor these three California state public officials who are true champions of Californians’ health,” said Ruth Holton-Hodson, TCWF’s director of public policy. “We applaud them for their leadership and courageous advocacy.”

The purpose of the Public Policy Leadership Award is to publicly recognize and acknowledge departing legislators and state officeholders who have championed public policies that promote the health of underserved Californians. The award is limited to those legislators or state officeholders who have termed out of both houses of the Legislature or their current state office.

The California Wellness Foundation is an independent, private foundation created in 1992, with a mission to improve the health of the people of California by making grants for health promotion, wellness education and disease prevention. The Foundation prioritizes eight issues for funding: diversity in the health professions, environmental health, healthy aging, mental health, teenage pregnancy prevention, violence prevention, women’s health, and work and health. It also responds to timely issues or special projects outside the funding priorities. Since its first year of operation, TCWF has awarded 4,376 grants totaling more than $523 million. It is one of the state’s largest private foundations, providing an average of $40 million in grants each year in pursuit of its mission.

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