Roberta Achtenberg

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Roberta Achtenberg
Member of the
San Francisco Board of Supervisors
from District 8
In office
Succeeded by Susan Leal
Personal details
Born (1950-07-20) July 20, 1950 (age 67)
Nationality American
Political party Democratic
Occupation civil rights Commissioner, US Commission on Civil Rights, attorney, nonprofit director and legal educator

Roberta Achtenberg (born July 20, 1950) is an American politician. She recently served as a Commissioner on the United States Commission on Civil Rights. She served as 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.


Before becoming a public official, Achtenberg worked for more than 15 years as a civil rights attorney, nonprofit director and legal educator. Her activity included co-founding the National Center for Lesbian Rights.[1]

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 1990 and resigned in 1993 when she was appointed Assistant Secretary of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development by President Bill Clinton. Achtenberg left the post in 1995 to run for mayor of San Francisco. 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. She served on the CSU Board of Trustees until 2015.

In 1992, Achtenberg was a member of the committee drafting the Democratic Party's platform. In introducing herself to the delegates, she proudly identified herself as a lesbian, a mother, and a Jew.[2]

On January 26, 2011, President Barack Obama named Achtenberg to the United States Commission on Civil Rights.

Personal life[edit]

Achtenberg's father was an ethnic German who immigrated to the United States from the former Soviet Union, while her mother came from Quebec.

After graduating from Morningside High School in Inglewood, California, Achtenberg went to UCLA, then transferred to and graduated from University of California, Berkeley. She began law school in San Francisco at University of California, Hastings College of the Law, before transferring to and receiving her Juris Doctor from the University of Utah.

Achtenberg has a son, Benjie, whom she raised with her former partner, Mary C. Morgan.


  • 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.[3]


  • Sexual Orientation and the Law, by Roberta Achtenberg (editor) (1985) ISBN 978-0-87632-454-7
  • 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
  • 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


  1. ^ Newton, David E. (2009). Gay and lesbian rights: a reference handbook. ABC-CLIO. p. 229. 
  2. ^ "Achtenberg, Roberta (b. 1950)". Retrieved 29 July 2015. 
  3. ^ "Roberta Achtenberg biography". LGBT History Month. 

External links[edit]

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