The Chamber of Commerce will recognize two women Thursday in their annual Women’s History Month celebration.
The event, dubbed the Owlies, will honor Sheila Kuehl, a Supervisor for Los Angeles County, and Shelly Luce, the CEO of an environmental nonprofit, at a cocktail hour that will feature speakers, performers, and raffles.
Annie Goeke, the co-director of events for the Chamber of Commerce, said the recipients are chosen based on the national women’s history month theme. This year’s theme is “Valiant Women of the Vote,” which Goeke said is well-exemplified by this year’s recipients.
Before she was elected to the Board, Kuehl spent 14 years on the California State Senate and Assembly as the first openly gay or lesbian person to be elected to the California Legislature. During this time, she authored more than 150 bills that were signed into law, including anti-discrimation policies and laws that mandated paid family leave. She also spent time litigating domestic violence cases as a public-interest attorney.
“I am very grateful to be recognized by the Santa Monica Chamber of Commerce especially during this year which marks the centennial of women’s right to vote,” Kuehl said in an email statement. “My office works very closely with the Chamber on a range of issues including sustainability, emergency preparedness, and homelessness. Their partnership is of great value to my office and to the people of Santa Monica.”
Keuhl was also the founding director of the Public Policy Institute at Santa Monica College and worked closely with Santa Monica government to develop policies to benefit local women.
“She really cares about her community,” Goeke said.
Goeke said Kuehl embodied Santa Monica values for a reason outside of her political career. Long before going to law school, she was a child actor, starring in many popular TV shows in the 50s and 60s.
Goeke said each year the commission tries to nominate a woman well-known in the local community and someone who is known throughout the state, like Keuhl, who happens to live in Santa Monica.
As the CEO of Heal the Bay, Luce has led several environmental movements to help preserve the Bay. In October, the organization led the Straws-On-Request campaign which ultimately led to a city ordinance that limited straw distribution. The organization also hosted Coastal Cleanup Days, campaigned against a plan to drill for oil on the beaches and partnered with UCLA and Stanford to develop a forecasting tool to determine when bacterial pollution should close beaches.
Past recipients of the Owlies honor have included Marianne Williamson, the former presidential candidate, actress Jennifer Garner and the Santa Monica Chief of Police, Jacqueline Seabrooks.
In addition to speeches from the recipients, this year’s event will feature photos of meetings between early women suffragists from the Santa Monica History Museum.
The event will be held at Loews Santa Monica Beach Hotel and will cost $80 for nonmembers.