30th annual Professional Businesswomen in California conference draws large crowd to SF

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Wednesday, April 24, 2019
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Every year ABC7 helps sponsor the Professional Business Women of California Conference. This year's theme was "unstoppable."

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- Every year ABC7 helps sponsor the Professional Businesswomen of California conference. This year's theme was "unstoppable," which speaks to the challenges women have faced only to succeed in the end.

When the first Professional Business Women of California Conference was held 30 years ago, some of the women today were children or weren't even born.

PHOTOS: ABC7 at Professional BusinessWomen of California Conference in San Francisco 2019

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Congresswoman Jackie Speier presented Cheryl Jennings PBWC’s first Lifetime Achievement Award. Also pictured: Tom Cibrowski, ABC7 President & GM, Tracey Watkowski, ABC7 VP of News.
Mimi Kwan / KGO-TV

Congresswoman Jackie Speier led the way.

"Thirty years ago we had our first conference. There were about 1,000 women that came, but we knew we had something," said Speier.

That was 1989, George Bush was President, the Speaker of the House was a man, there were only two women senators and 29 women in the entire House of Representatives.

Tuesday there are 127 women in Congress-- roughly 24-percent-- a record number, including those unlikely to have been elected 30 years ago.

RELATED: Professional Business Women of California conference kicks off with special reception

"The most diverse Congress. I'm one of two Native American women every elected to Congress in our country's history, I serve with the first two Muslim women," said Representative Debra Haaland of New Mexico.

Today California has the first partner, a title Jennifer Siebel Newsom agreed was appropriate given our diversity.

"Part of the notion of partners is gender expansive and gender inclusive so we will have a female governor someday, an LGBTQ governor someday. I wanted to signal what was possible," expressed Newsom.

Geena Rocero is the founder of Gender Proud, an advocacy group to advance the rights of transgender individuals.

"As a transgender, I've been asked to slow it down, don't ask so much about your rights, but no, it's necessary," added Rocero.

Congresswoman Speier says success doesn't come without failures.

"I've been a three-time loser in public office and yet I'm in Congress right now," said Speier.

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