State Sen. Jerry Hill named Los Altos resident Emily “Emy” Thurber, who has devoted more than 50 years to public service and women’s leadership, the 2019 Woman of the Year for the 13th Senate District.
The California Legislative Women’s Caucus honored Thurber March 4 at the State Capitol in Sacramento at ceremonies celebrating the Women of Year selected by legislative representatives throughout the state.
“Emy embodies the spirit and dedication for which so many citizens of 13th Senate District are known,” Hill said. “I am proud to name Emy Thurber as the district’s Woman of the Year.”
Leaders of the California Legislative Women’s Caucus welcomed Thurber to the Senate Chamber and read a short list of her many accomplishments as Hill escorted her to the Senate floor. Senate staff introduced her saying, “Emily ‘Emy’ Thurber has dedicated a lifetime to public service and women’s leadership.”
Thurber served as a staff member for U.S. Sen. Alan Cranston in Washington, D.C., where she worked on foreign and military affairs, and developed a strong appreciation for preservation of the environment. At the time, her late husband, Jim, was working in the nation’s capital as a member of the U.S. Information Agency. She brought her experience to California after Jim retired.
She became president of Sempervirens Fund, the state’s oldest land trust, which was instrumental in creating California’s first state park, Big Basin Redwoods. Sempervirens joined four other conservation groups and three foundations to acquire the 8,532-acre Cemex Redwoods in the Santa Cruz Mountains, now known as the San Vicente Redwoods.
Thurber was a leader in the organizations’ joint vision to create the Great Park, a larger effort uniting 27,000 acres, including the San Vicente Redwoods, to protect wildlife habitats, the watershed and the environmental and cultural native places of the Amah Muntsen people. She still serves on Sempervirens Fund’s Development Committee to help realize the vision.
Thurber served on the board of the Midpeninsula YWCA. She joined the fledgling Los Altos Community Foundation board and now, more than two decades later, still serves on its Grants Committee. She served as chairwoman of the Santa Clara County Commission on the Status of Women from 2004 to 2005. She received a humanitarian award from the county’s Human Relations Commission in 2005. Thurber also is a founding member of the Los Altos Women’s Caucus.
Accompanying her to the celebration in Sacramento were son James Thurber III and daughter-in-law Debra McGibbon of Mountain View and daughter Harriette Rasmussen and grandson Alex of Oregon.