Roberta Achtenberg

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Roberta Achtenberg
Assistant Secretary of Housing and Urban Development for Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity
In office
1993–1995
Succeeded bySusan Leal
Member of the United States Commission on Civil Rights
In office
2011–2016
PresidentBarack Obama
Personal details
Born (1950-07-20) July 20, 1950 (age 70)
Los Angeles, California, U.S.
Political partyDemocratic
Domestic partnerMary Morgan[1]
Children1
Alma materUniversity of California, Berkeley (BA)
University of Utah (JD)

Roberta Achtenberg (born July 20, 1950) is an American retired government official. She served as a Commissioner on the United States Commission on Civil Rights. She was previously Assistant Secretary of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, becoming the first openly lesbian or gay public official in the United States whose appointment to a federal position was confirmed by the United States Senate.

Career[edit]

Before becoming a public official, Achtenberg worked for more than 15 years as a civil rights attorney, nonprofit director, and legal educator. Achtenberg supported the LGBTQ community early in her political career. Her activity included co-founding the National Center for Lesbian Rights.[2] Between 1975 and 1976, she served as a teaching fellow at Stanford University.[3][4] In 1976, Achtenberg became the Dean of the New College of California School of Law.[5][4] Additionally, in 1978 Achtenberg represented LGBTQ rights while in the Anti-Sexism Committee for the National Lawyers Guild.[6][1] While working for the organization, she edited Sexual Orientation and the Law (1985).[7]

Achtenberg unsuccessfully ran for a seat in the California State Assembly in 1988. She was elected as a member of the San Francisco Board of Supervisors in 1989, becoming the first open lesbian to serve on the Board, which gave her national attention.[citation needed]

While still serving on the San Francisco Board of Supervisorsin 1992, Achtenberg was appointed to the committee drafting the National Democratic Party's platform.[1]

In 1993, she was appointed Assistant Secretary for the Office of Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity by President Bill Clinton, becoming the first 'out,' LGBTQ person to be appointed and confirmed to a position within a cabinet office. Later, she was appointed as the senior advisor to the Secretary of United States Department of Housing and Urban Development.[8]

Achtenberg left the post in 1995 to run for mayor of San Francisco, but lost the election. From 1998 to 2004, Achtenberg helped develop the policies for both the San Francisco Chamber of Commerce and the San Francisco Center for Economic Development.[8][9] In 2000, she became the Director of the Bank of San Francisco and Andrew J. Wong, Inc.[6][1] She served as Senior Vice President for Public Policy at the San Francisco Chamber of Commerce until January 2005. In 2000, she was appointed to the Board of Trustees of California State University by Governor Gray Davis, becoming chair of the board in May 2006, serving on the CSU Board of Trustees until 2015.

Achtenberg was in charge of the Housing and Urban Development Department's Agency Review Team that assisted the Obama administration during its transition to office.[9] On January 26, 2011, President Barack Obama named Achtenberg to the United States Commission on Civil Rights.

Personal life and education[edit]

Achtenberg's father was an ethnic German who immigrated to the United States from the former Soviet Union, while her mother was from Quebec. Both of parents were not educated, and neither attending high school.[1][10][6][7] They owned a grocery store in Los Angeles and raised Roberta and her three siblings.[11]

After graduating from Morningside High School in Inglewood, California, Achtenberg attended University of California, Los Angeles before graduating from University of California, Berkeley. At Berkeley, she met her husband, David Chavkin.[6][1] She began law school at University of California, Hastings College of the Law, before eventually receiving her Juris Doctor from the University of Utah. In 1976, her brother, Jack, died after a car accident. Her mother died soon after from heart disease.[5] Amidst this family turmoil, at law school, Achtenberg began exploring her identity and had relations with women, which led to her divorce from her husband in 1979.[6][1]

Achtenberg met her partner, Mary Morgan, a lesbian attorney who would eventually be appointed to San Francisco Municipal Court in 1981.[1] In 1979, Achtenberg adopted Morgan's child, Benjamin.[6][1]

Awards[edit]

  • 2003, awarded the first ever Public Administration Program Award for Public Service by San Francisco State University in recognition of Achtenberg's outstanding career in public service
  • 1997, one of the "50 Most Influential Businesswomen in the Bay Area"
  • 1994, GLAAD Media Awards, Visibility Award
  • Founders Award from the National Center for Lesbian Rights
  • In 2012, she was named by Equality Forum as one of their 31 Icons of the LGBT History Month.[6]
  • Award of Excellence by the National Community Reinvestment Coalition
  • Awarded "Woman of the Year" by the California State Senate for the Third District[9]
  • Management Volunteer of the Year by the United Way, Bay Area
  • Lambda Legal Defense and Education Fund Achievement Award
  • Southern California Women for Understanding Achievement Award
  • National Organization for Women, Women of Achievement Award[12]

Publications[edit]

  • "Behavior Modification: Legal Limitations on Methods and Goals", 50 Notre Dame Lawyer 230 (1975)[12]
  • Sexual Orientation and the Law, by Roberta Achtenberg (editor) (1985) ISBN 978-0-87632-454-7
  • "Partner Benefits Litigation: Expanding Definitions of the Family", Matthew bender Family Law Monthly (May 1987)[12]
  • The Adoptive and Foster Gay and Lesbian Parent, in Gay and Lesbian Parents, Bozett, Ed., Praeger Press (1987)[12]
  • Nicaragua's New Constitution: Report of August 1986 National Lawyers Guild Delegation to Nicaragua (May 1987)
  • Aids and Child Custody: A Guide to Advocacy, National Center for Lesbian Rights (1989)[12]
  • The Lesbian and Gay Book of Love and Marriage: Creating the Stories of Our Lives, by Paula Martinac, Roberta Achtenberg (contributor) (1998) ISBN 978-0-7679-0162-8
  • Preserving and Protecting the Families of Lesbians and Gay Men, National Center for Lesbian Rights (1986, 1990)[12]
  • Lesbian Mother Litigation Manual, Second Edition, national Center for Lesbian Rights, with Donna Hitchens (1990)[12]
  • Protecting the Lesbian Family in Our Right to Love, Vida, Ed, (1990) [12]
  • Helping Gay and Lesbian Youth: New Policies, New Programs, New Practice, by Teresa Decrescenzo (editor), Roberta Achtenberg (contributor) (1994) ISBN 978-1-56023-057-1

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i Rapp, Linda (2015). "Roberta Achtenberg" (PDF). GLBTQ Archive.
  2. ^ Newton, David E. (2009). Gay and lesbian rights: a reference handbook. ABC-CLIO. p. 229. ISBN 9781598843071.
  3. ^ Mixner, David; Bailey, Dennis (20 April 2011). Brave Journeys: Profiles in Gay and Lesbian Courage. Random House Publishing Group. ISBN 9780307788696 – via Google Books.
  4. ^ a b "Roberta Achtenberg". www2.calstate.edu.
  5. ^ a b Mixner, David; Bailey, Dennis (20 April 2011). Brave Journeys: Profiles in Gay and Lesbian Courage. Random House Publishing Group. ISBN 9780307788696 – via Google Books.
  6. ^ a b c d e f g "Roberta Achtenberg". LGBTHistoryMonth.com. Retrieved 2018-03-21.
  7. ^ a b "Roberta Actenberg (from Famous Lesbian & Gay Birthdays) on iCalShare". iCalShare. Retrieved 2018-03-21.
  8. ^ a b "Roberta Achtenberg Board of Trustees". CalState. Retrieved 2018-03-21.
  9. ^ a b c "Roberta Achtenberg". USCCR. Retrieved 2018-03-21.
  10. ^ "Roberta Achtenberg, California, 1990". OutHistory.org. Retrieved 2018-03-21.
  11. ^ Mixner, David; Bailey, Dennis (20 April 2011). Brave Journeys: Profiles in Gay and Lesbian Courage. Random House Publishing Group. ISBN 9780307788696 – via Google Books.
  12. ^ a b c d e f g h United States. Congress. Senate. Committee on Banking, Housing (1993). Nominations of Kenneth D. Brody, Roberta Achtenberg, and Nicolas P. Retsinas : hearing before the Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs, United States Senate, One Hundred Third Congress, first session, on Kenneth D. Brody to be President and Chairman of the Export-Import Bank, Roberta Achtenberg to be Assistant Secretary of Housing and Urban Development for Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity, Nicolas P. Retsinas to be Assistant Secretary of Housing and Urban Development as Federal Housing Commissioner, April 29, 1993. Boston Public Library. Washington : U.S. G.P.O. : For sale by the U.S. G.P.O., Supt. of Docs., Congressional Sales Office.

External links[edit]

Political offices
Preceded by
Election was not district specific
Member of the San Francisco Board of Supervisors
1990–1993
Succeeded by
Susan Leal