“I never thought of them as obstacles I faced. It was just the way things were,” says Dunn. Women like Harriett Wieder broke the glass ceiling.”
who died in January at the age of 89, set female precedents where none
existed. She served as the county’s first and only female supervisor
from 1979 to 1995, debating issues from health care to pollution to
domestic violence, while simultaneously inspiring and infuriating her
“I am convinced it is because of Harriett
that I went into land development – because of her strong leadership
and the examples that she set,” says Dunn, who worked with Wieder on
forming the Bolsa Chica Conservancy.
A Toronto-born and
Detroit-raised mother-of-two, Wieder was a Republican who supported
President Bill Clinton and staunchly opposed her party’s stance against
abortion rights. She even beat a recall attempt in 1987. She faced more
controversy when it was discovered that the journalism degree she
claimed to have earned was a fabrication.
Despite it all,
Wieder – who spent her later years involved in charity work – is still
credited with aiding important reforms in the region, including a
county ordinance in the early 1990s banning gifts to supervisors and
their aides – a long-sought measure and the strongest of its kind in
She also was a driving force behind Cal-Optima,
the billion-dollar community-organized health-care system for the less
fortunate, launched in 1995. And she was involved in the founding of a
number of organizations still in existence today: the Orange County
Water Task Force, the eight-county Southern California Water Committee,
the first Visitor’s Guide to Orange County and the county’s Office of
In 1996, President Bill Clinton appointed her to
the Commission on U.S.-Pacific Trade & Investment Policy. Later,
she served as president of Newport Beach- based private consulting
business Linkage, and as vice president of the International Women’s
Forum, among other influential posts.
Matz worked with
Wieder on the California Corporate Board Registry from 1999 to 2001.
While inactive now, it was created to match women and minority
candidates with corporations that wanted to diversify their boards.
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