The Women of Courage Award

Supporting young women who exemplify the spirit of Congresswoman Jackie Speier in making the world a better place.

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Congresswoman Jackie Speier in 1977 and today

The Women of Courage award is inspired by the lifetime work of Congresswoman Jackie Speier who in her roles as a mother, attorney, congressional staffer and elected official has shown resilience in overcoming tragedy and life threatening situations and fortitude in taking on powerful political forces. She has become a leading champion of women’s rights, individual privacy and consumer safety. This $25,000 annual award is granted to young women who show outstanding courage in their efforts to make the world a better place.

Nominations will open for the next round in 2022.

Who is eligible for the award?

The award is open to young female-identifying individuals (18-30 years old) who live, work or serve others in San Mateo County, and who demonstrate courage in a professional or personal capacity, make an impact, and exemplify the characteristics of compassion, resilience and integrity.

The Selection Committee welcomes all innovative ideas of work that makes the world a better place. Examples could be, but are not limited to:

  • Innovative work in science, technology, education or the arts
  • Law enforcement reform efforts
  • Impactful investigative journalism
  • Leadership in civic activism
  • Advocating for environmental sustainability
  • Starting a non-profit or social enterprise
What is the award?

The award honors young women with a $25,000 award intended to further their efforts to serve others. The award may be paid directly to the awardee, to an affiliated non-profit or social venture, as a scholarship to a university or for professional development.

Who selects the awardees?

Awardees are chosen by the following Selection Committee Members:

Darrell Benatar has run small businesses and started several successful companies including WeComply, Surprise.com and UserTesting. Darrell now serves as Executive Chairman at UserTesting, a world-wide company with over 700 employees.

Christine Krolik is past Mayor and current Vice Mayor of the Town of Hillsborough. Christine was the Finance Chair for Jackie Speier’s campaigns for Congress and Lieutenant Governor. She has a background in professional theatre.

Jennifer Raiser is an author who has published four books and hundreds of magazine and newspaper articles. A lifelong volunteer, has served on ten nonprofit boards, and is currently Treasurer of the Burning Man organization. She also provides marketing consulting to corporate clients. In her previous career, she owned and managed luxury retirement communities in the San Francisco Bay Area.

Barbara Kaplan began in nonprofits as the Executive Director of the San Mateo County Food Bank, spent 30 years in Healthcare Administration retiring from San Mateo County General Hospital and Stanford University and is now faculty at a local university teaching Women in Management, Organizational and Finance classes.

Sheryl Young is known for strategic initiatives and cross sector collaboration. As CEO of a local nonprofit, she increased services and revenues from $500K to $15M annually through contracts, mergers, business and resource development and a national social media platform was developed for spotlight on critical issues for families. She is currently the San Mateo County Program Director for Philanthropic Ventures Foundation.

Dr. Sophie Cole is currently a Councilmember on the Hillsborough City Council and an Independent Medical Evaluator, consulting on complex medical cases. She also serves on the Samaritan House Board of Directors and is a volunteer physician at the Samaritan House Free Clinic. Previously, she was a Staff Physician in Internal Medicine at One Medical Group in Burlingame and before that she was a Physician Advisor Consultant for Medicare Compliance. She has served on numerous boards of directors, including the California Medical Association, San Francisco Village, and the San Mateo High School Foundation.

How can I nominate someone?

Nominees can be submitted through an open nomination process by clicking on the Nomination Form button on this page. A nomination should come from someone who knows the nominee closely and can speak to her service work.

Nominations will be reviewed and the finalists will be interviewed by the Selection Committee. Please do not contact a Selection Committee Member. Frequently Asked Questions about the award or nomination process can be found at the “FAQ’s” button on the right. Any additional questions can be directed to slira@venturesfoundation.org.

When are nominations due?

Nominations will re-open in March for the 2022 round, please stay tuned.

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“This is an initiative I created because of my love and admiration for Jackie. We need more Jackie Speiers in the world and this award is an effort to find and support those outstanding young women who have shown the courage to take action to make the world a better place.”

The Women of Courage Award was founded by Cynthia Schuman, an accomplished artist and designer, philanthropist and community leader.