Bettina Duval started The CALIFORNIA LIST
(californialist.org) in April 2002. Her mission: to create opportunities for
women to run for public office and the election of pro-choice, democratic women
to the California State Senate, Assembly, and Executive Branch.
“I started The LIST because it was a way for me to meld
together my experience and my passion. I’m proud and honored to be as involved
as I have been,” said Duval.
“In California we think we’re ahead of the game because
we have representing us three very powerful women in national public office.
Senator Feinstein, Senator Boxer and Congresswoman Pelosi. The role of The
CALIFORNIA LIST is to help create the pipeline for our next generation of women
leaders. Attorney General Kamala Harris is a rising star in California
political life. Debra Bowen, Julia Brownley, Karen Bass, and Judy Chu are
wonderful examples of women holding public office. Early in their political careers
The CALIFORNIA LIST encouraged and supported these office holders.
“Thankfully public perspective has changed during my
growing up years and now most Americans have favorable views of women who run
for office and there is a continually increasing expression of a comfort level
with women holding public office.”
Duval credits the 1972 Title IX Act, “a watershed moment for women as changing
higher education in the United States and, under the laws of unintended
consequences, also contributing to broader, societal changes in the perception
of women in public life.”
Duval was raised by a strong, independent and loving
single mom and loving grandparents. They were a family of four and lived in
Davis, CA. Duval went to Berkeley for college. She studied rhetoric and
considered becoming a lawyer. At Berkeley she ran for student government and
lost but that got her the position of Commissioner for Student Elections.
She was introduced to the League of Women Voters when she
needed to bring in credible outside monitors for the student elections. Her
introduction to legislative politics had started earlier, at Davis Senior High
School, where she was on student government and the first student
representative to sit on the Davis Board of Education. When she graduated from
Davis Senior High School she received the Gordon H. True Cup, a coveted award
for service to the school.
Duval recounts an early ‘aha’ moment when she was an
intern for then State Assemblyman Vic Fazio and Senator John Dunlap and was
sent to Sacramento on a work errand.
“In 1978 I was in the galley at the State Capitol and
looked down at the floor,” she said. “It seemed to be all men. No, there were
38 men and two women. It made an impression on me and was a catalyst for my
Duval has a list of accomplishments on her path to
starting her own organization in support of electing women to public office.
After graduating from Berkeley she moved to D.C. to work at the law firm of
Covington and Burlington. It was there she realized she didn’t want to pursue a
career in law. One of the partners was part of the Mondale/Ferraro campaign and
she went to work for them as an advance person.
That brought her to San Francisco where she met Glenn
Duval. They married in 1985. He is part
of a family owned Cable Television Company in LA and that helped them to decide
to move to the Hollywood Hills after their marriage. Duval became active in the
Junior League of Los Angeles in 1986 eventually becoming League President. Her
position required her to be out in the community essentially full time and was
a great introduction to Southern California for her.
In 1990 they decided to move to Santa Monica, which they
saw as “a great community and a wonderful place to raise our children.”
“My husband is a Republican and that makes for lively
dinner table conversations,” she said. “Those conversations, along with my
work, spiked the interest of our children. Our oldest son formed his own
political party at UCSB, “Better Our School System” (BOSS), our eldest daughter
has been part of Student Government at Johns Hopkins, another daughter is at
Berkeley and is on the crew team, and our youngest is applying to Boys State.
All are very politically aware and understand that political decisions impact
them as individuals as well as impacting the world they live in.”
In Santa Monica, Duval became active in local campaigns,
another major catalyst for her. She then
decided to go to work as the Southern California Director for Emily’s list. It
was 2002 and there were 34 women elected to state public office, 24 in the State
Assembly and 10 in the State Senate.
Now, as the President of The CALFORNIA LIST, Duval
continues to look for ways to support women running for public office.
“What’s happening with women, I think, is that they are
not running for office in the numbers they could be and so we are actively
seeking to understand how to help women decide to run for office,” she said.
“We also continue working with the women who have run for office, whether they
won or lost. We are looking at new ways of fundraising. And, of course, the Internet has allowed us
to change and grow in wonderful ways.”
Bettina Duval ended our interview saying, “It is
wonderful when you are supporting a great candidate. There is something very
wonderful about watching the achievements and contributions of the women I’ve
helped to win elective office and I’m excited about continuing this work.”
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