Trustees’ Council of Penn Women Will Present Beacon Award to Janet Napolitano

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Media Contact:Amanda Mott | | 215-898-1422March 28, 2014

Janet Napolitano will be honored April 4 for her career in public service as the former governor of Arizona, the first female to serve as the U.S. secretary of homeland security and now as president of the University of California system. Napolitano will receive the Beacon Award from the University of Pennsylvania’s Trustees’ Council of Penn Women at a 12:30-2 p.m. luncheon in the Agora of the Annenberg Public Policy Center, 202 S. 36th St. 

“Janet Napolitano has been a leader in improving women’s lives and in advancing education, from early childhood through college, as a way to make a profound impact on people’s lives,” said Penn Provost Vince Price, who will make the Beacon Award presentation. 

The Beacon Award is presented to highlight Penn’s commitment to women’s issues and recognizes leaders who have demonstrated this same commitment. Napolitano will be the 13th recipient. Past Beacon awardees include Hillary Rodham Clinton, Sandra Day O’Connor and Third Circuit Court Judge Marjorie O. Rendell.

A lawyer and politician, Napolitano has consistently promoted education throughout her career in public service. Since being named the 20th president of the University of California in Sept. 2013, Napolitano has made access to higher education for underrepresented students one of her top priorities. The university system she leads is the world’s largest, with 10 campuses and five medical centers and with 234,000 students and 208,000 faculty and staff. Napolitano holds a juris doctorate degree from the University of Virginia Law School and a bachelor’s degree in political science from Santa Clara University. 

In 1991, she gained visibility as an attorney representing Anita Hill during the Senate confirmation hearings for Clarence Thomas, whom Hill accused of sexual harassment. From 1999 to 2002 she served as attorney general of Arizona before being elected to serve as the third female governor of Arizona in 2003. In 2008, she was cited by The New York Times as among the women most likely to become the first female president of the United States. In 2009, Napolitano was appointed by President Obama to the homeland security post.

“TCPW fosters and promotes the advancement of women’s issues across Penn,” Jayne Davis Perilstein, TCPW chair, said. “We are thrilled to add Ms. Napolitano to the list of distinguished women who have received the Beacon Award and to hear about her groundbreaking experiences and vision for higher education.”

The Beacon Award ceremony is one of a series of events that TCPW will hold for its members during its annual spring conference, “Penn Women: Leading the Way,” April 3-4.  

Additional information about The Trustees Council of Penn Women or the event is available from Terri Welsh at or 302-266-0612.

Click on the links here to view photos and a video of the event.