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Summary Bio

Dr. Sarah Weddington lives a life of leadership and shares her expertise and insights with others. She is a nationally known attorney and spokesperson on leadership and public issues, and her experience and charisma make her a highly sought-after speaker on the development of leadership skills.

Dr. Weddington is particularly well-known for her work on issues affecting women through her many roles which include attorney, legislator, Presidential advisor, professor, and expert called upon by the national media and institutions of higher learning.

She is a proven leader in government at the state and national levels. In 1973, she became the first woman from Austin to serve in the 150-member Texas House of Representatives, serving for three terms. In 1977, she was the first woman ever to serve as General Counsel of the U.S. Department of Agriculture where Dr. Weddington supervised more than 200 lawyers. From 1978 to 1981, she served as Assistant to President Jimmy Carter, directing the Administration's work on women's issues and leadership outreach. From 1983 to 1985, she was the first female director of the Texas Office of State-Federal Relations.

Dr. Weddington writes and travels extensively, speaking on the development of leadership skills (read her praise from professional organizations). These speaking engagements include:

  • Inaugural speaker, Women's Leadership Series, John Glenn Institute at Ohio State University
  • 2004 Most Powerful Women Summit, Fortune Magazine
  • Featured speaker, 2004 March for Women's Lives, Washington D.C. (The march drew more than a million participants!)
  • Keynote speaker, U.S.-China Conference on Women and Leadership, Beijing and Shanghai, China
  • 30th Anniversary Symposium Celebrating 30 Years of Women's Rights Law, Tribute to Women Lawyers and Activists, Rutgers’ Women's Rights Law Reporter

From 1981 through 1990, Dr. Weddington was a Distinguished Lecturer at Texas Woman’s University (TWU) and an adjunct professor in the Department of History and Government in 1993. In March 2001, Dr. Weddington returned to TWU for The Sarah Weddington Centennial Leadership Conference.

Dr. Weddington was a professor at the University of Texas at Austin for 28 years, where she shaped a new generation of leaders through her classes "Gender-Based Discrimination" and "Leadership in America" (view praise from students in her leadership classes).

In her first book, A Question of Choice, Dr. Weddington detailed the landmark Roe v. Wade case, which she successfully argued as a young attorney before the U.S. Supreme Court in 1971 & 1972. She is believed to be the youngest person ever to win a case before the U.S. Supreme Court. Currently Dr. Weddington is working on a book on the topic of leadership and self-renewal.

Dr. Weddington has received numerous honors and awards. A partial list follows:

  • One of “125 Women Who Changed the World” — Good Housekeeping, 125th Anniversary Issue
  • Jane’s Due Process Award — Lilith Fund, 2010 (Dr. Weddington is a founder and Legal Advisory Board Member)
  • J. Patrick Wiseman Civil Rights Award — State Bar of Texas, 2010
  • Margaret Brent Women Lawyers of Achievement Award — American Bar Association’s Commission on Women in the Profession, 2008 — Previous honorees include Senator Hillary Clinton, Justice Sandra Day O’Connor, and Barbara Jordan.
  • International ATHENA Award, 2006 — Presented to individuals who have achieved a high degree of professional excellence, have assisted women to develop their full potential by opening up leadership opportunities, and whose body of work has made a national or international impact.
  • Ministry to Women Award — National Unitarian Universalist Women's Federation, 2005
  • National Public Health Hero Award — University of California, Berkeley, School of Public Health, 2005
  • Purple Boot Award - Women's Chamber of Commerce of Texas, 2004 — For women who kick ass!
  • 2003-2004 Courage Award — Women Lawyers Association of Los Angeles
  • Speaking Out for Justice Award — American Association of University Women, 2001
  • "One of the Most Influential Lawyers of the 20th Century” — Texas Lawyer, 2000
  • "The Tallest Texans — Those who left their mark on Texas and the rest of the world in the 20th Century” — Houston Chronicle, 2000
  • Texas Woman of the Century — Women's Chamber of Commerce of Texas, 1999
  • "Face of the Century” — San Antonio (TX) Express-News, 1999
  • Hummingbird Award — Leadership America, 1998 — For contributions toward the advancement of women's leadership
  • Trailblazer Award — McMurry University, 1995 — For “setting a path for others to follow as servant leaders”
  • Inductee — Omicron Delta Kappa Society, 1995 — The national leadership honor society
  • Woman of Distinction Award — National Conference for College Women Student Leaders, 1993
  • Best College Lecturer — National Association for Campus Activities, 1990
  • Margaret Sanger Award — Planned Parenthood of America, 1980 — The organization’s highest honor.

Dr. Weddington was featured in a special section of TIME Magazine's March 31, 2003 edition called "80 Days that Changed the World". She was asked to write the entry for 1973, which featured the January 22, 1973 decision she won in Roe v. Wade.

She has been featured in such publications as Working Women, People Magazine, and the Washington Post and has been a guest on such programs as The Today Show, Good Morning America, and CBS Morning News. She is featured for her "Courage to Challenge" in Women of Courage: Inspiring Stories from the Women Who Lived Them by Katherine Martin.

Dr. Weddington is featured in the website and television series “MAKERS: Women Who Make America" - launched in 2012 by AOL and PBS, which can be seen here.

She received her J.D. from The University of Texas School of Law in 1967 and is a Distinguished Alumna of McMurry University in Abilene, Texas. She holds several honorary doctorates.

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