Laura Capps epitomizes collaboration, community, and capability. Collaboration that results in effective action isn’t easy. I served with Laura on the Santa Barbara County Women’s Commission for several years and saw firsthand how she respected and harmonized sharply disparate North County and South County perspectives to benefit women and families county-wide. A true feminist, Laura is committed to fostering female leadership and led the first-ever study of gender representation on boards and commissions. And when our findings were published, not surprisingly showing severe under-representation of women in leadership roles, Laura led the charge to meet with mayors, city councils, and women to pave the way for achieving parity.
Community outreach is key to effective representation. When our Women’s Commission held “Women Speak Up” listening events, we heard issues of concern from hundreds of women and girls. The comments about sexual assault, bullying, discrimination, and LGBTQ harassment were especially disturbing to me as a filmmaker, educator, and mom of a gay son. When I went before the SBUSD School Board to pitch a sexual education film series for high school health classes, Laura jumped in to support with specific recommendations for next steps. I’ve seen how she stands up for inclusive, progressive sex ed and implicit bias training despite strong right-wing opposition.
Laura not only shares these values but acts upon them. Five years ago when PFLAG was planning our first interfaith Pride Celebration during the Pride Festival, Laura volunteered her skills to help us pull it off. This has now become an annual event. And this is one of many examples of her capability. More than just vocal support, Laura is always quick to jump in and ask, “How can I help make this happen?” We need Laura to continue her results-driven work so that our county can be even more inclusive, equitable, and supportive of women, men, and their families.
Suzanne W. Peck is a commissioner on the County of Santa Barbara Commission for Women.