by Photo courtesy of the Women's Museum

The San Diego County’s Women’s Hall of Fame welcomed five local women on Sunday in a virtual ceremony for their contributions to society. 

The annual ceremony honored Judge Tamila Ipema, Marie M. Herney Mueller, Rosalina Salinas, Josephine Talamantez, and Francine Foster Williams. The five women joined over 125 women have been inducted into the Hall of Fame since it was founded in 2001. 

The San Diego County Women’s Hall of Fame recognizes the lifetime accomplishments of diverse women whose history of professional or volunteer work has made exceptional contributions to the region and beyond. They were inducted by the Women’s Museum of California in partnership with the San Diego County Commission on the Status of Women and Girls. 

Each of the honorees represents the values of the hall of fame and highlights the accomplishments of other women. The five women were honored under the categories of Empower, Activist, Trailblazer, Cultural Bridge Builder, and Historian. 

“We are honored to induct such an accomplished and inspiring group of women into the San Diego County Women’s Hall of Fame,” said Women’s Museum of California Executive Director Felicia Shaw. “These women reflect the breadth and diversity of our community and demonstrate the positive impact women have on our lives.”

The 2022 inductees are: 

The Activist: Rosalina Salinas

Salinas worked with Assemblymember Peter Chacon to pass the Bilingual Bicultural Act of 1976; the first state legislative act that mandated school districts to provide language minority students with equal educational opportunities despite their limited proficiency in English. She was elected president of the California Association for Bilingual Education in 1995, and a few years later, she lead a state-wide effort to oppose the passage of Proposition 227 in 1998 that threatened to end bilingual education. She became an advocate for the passage of Proposition 58, which established bilingual, and bicultural education now embedded in the educational curriculum in California, and especially throughout San Diego County. 

The Cultural Bridge Builder: Francine Foster Williams (1950-2021), 

Having earned a doctorate in education, dedicated her life to educating and empowering young people. With over 40 years of experience under her belt as an educator and administrator at the San Diego Unified School District, she coached teachers on how to instruct diverse children through a lens of race, human relations, and equity. During the 1990s and for ten years, she raised nearly $4 million in funding that benefitted San Diego schools and the children they served. She believed that young people should be encouraged to read and write stories about their own families and culture as a bridge to literacy and learning about the lives and cultures of others. Williams expressed particular concern with the status of girls and that expectations for their academic achievement would always remain high. 

The Empowerer: Marie M. Herney Mueller (1908-1984) 

A woman of many firsts. She was known internationally as a legal advocate and authority on women’s rights. In 1932, she became San Diego County’s first women deputy distinct attorney, the first woman to practice in federal court, and the first local woman to practice in the Supreme Court. Her work focused to educate the legal profession and beyond about property laws, and the lack of professional opportunities affecting women, including equal pay. Muller was a mentor to Madge Bradley, who in 1952 became San Diego’s first woman judge.

​​Historian: Josephine “Josie” Talamantez 

The Yaqui/Chicana historian, cultural worker, activist, and local, state, and national trailblazer became dedicated to defending the Logan Heights neighborhood known as Barrio Logan, where she was born and raised. Talamantez is the co-founder of Chicano Park and a co-founder of the Chicano Park Steering Committee on April 22, 1970. With her activism, many murals were added, with over 70 murals by Chicano artists at the park, which is the largest collection of murals in the United States. The park and murals are considered a national landmark on the National Register of Historic Places. She served as the Chief of Programs for the California Arts Council in Sacramento from 1987 through 2011. But, throughout her professional career, she maintained duo-residency in San Diego, where she also served for a period as executive director of the Centro Cultural de la Raza in Balboa Park.

The Trailblazer: Judge Tamila Ipema 

As the first Iranian-American judge appointed to the San Diego Superior Court, Ipema committed her life to the achievement of democracy, human rights, and social justice. Since being appointed in 2009, she advanced many programs designed to uplift the local, national and global community. She fought for the rights of asylum seekers and refugees through her work as a defense attorney, and through her work with the US Department of Justice, before becoming a Supervising research attorney for the Los Angeles Superior Court, and Court Commissioner in Los Angeles and San Diego counties. In 2018-2019, Judge Ipema served as the President of the National Association of Women Judges. 

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