100 Women We Love: Class Of 2019

Toni Atkins

Photo by Melissa Jacobs

In 2018, Toni Atkins made history by becoming both the first woman and the first openly LGBTQ person to serve as the President Pro Tempore of the California State Senate. It was only the latest in a number of firsts she’s achieved throughout her political career. She was the first lesbian to be named Speaker of the California Assembly in 2014. Then, in 2017, she advanced legislation that saw California became the first state in the nation to adopt a third gender option on state-issued documents. Her own political career began when she followed in the footsteps of another first: friend and mentor Christine Kehoe, a San Diego city councilmember who was the first openly gay official elected to office in that city. From there, it was only a small leap for Atkins to run for office herself. What she finds most rewarding about politics is being able “to bring people with diverse views and perspectives together to collaborate and then have that collaboration lead to real solutions.” It’s a sentiment that echoes in her philosophy to the LGBTQ community, which can advance progressive change through unity. “Lift each other up. Keep each other safe. Always remember whose shoulders you stand on and make room for others to stand on yours.” —RK

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