Junior League of San Francisco’s annual Women at the Center Honors (“WATCH”) recognizes two women who share a lifelong commitment to furthering important causes and improving the Bay Area community. The WATCH award and fundraising event originated in 2004, established by the Junior League’s Sustainer Council as a way to honor women at the center of philanthropy and civic service, and to raise funds for its endowment.
On May 8, 2014, at a luncheon in their honor, Athena Troxel Blackburn and Merla Zellerbach were added to the WATCH awards list. Past honorees include (in alphabetical order): Nancy Bechtle, Barbara Callander, Katie Cardinal, Belva Davis, Gretchen de Baubigny, Delia F. Ehrlich, Charlene Harvey, Chris Hellman, Susan Cook Hoganson, Joanne Horning, Leslie Luttgens, Louise Renne, Charlotte Shultz, Patricia Sughrue Sprincin, Dede Wilsey and Kimberly Wright-Violich.
Junior League of San Francisco’s Women at the Center Honoree, 2014, Merla Zellerbach
Junior League of San Francisco’s Women at the Center Honoree, 2014, Athena Troxel Blackburn
Women at the Center Honoree, 2004, Dede Wilsey
The late Dr. John Callander, Lieutenant Governor Gavin Newsom and Women at the Center Honoree, 2008, Barbara Callander
Women at the Center Honoree, 2012, Joanne Horning
Women at the Center Honoree, 2011, Patricia Sughrue Sprincin
Women at the Center Honoree, 2011, Belva Davis
Andra von Behren, Heidi Kuhn, Women at the Center Honoree, 2010, Susan Cook Hoganson, Trish Otstott and Lisa Grotts at Junior League of San Francisco’s 100th anniversary celebration in November 2012
Women at the Center Honoree, 2012, Charlotte Shultz (photo by Bob Pritikin)
Since 1982, Athena Troxel Blackburn’s exemplary leadership and financial support have benefited a diverse array of organizations including the Junior League of San Francisco, California Pacific Medical Center, Project Open Hand, UNICEF, San Francisco Ballet, San Francisco Opera and San Francisco Symphony to name a few.
Author of 19 books, former columnist for the San Francisco Chronicle and former editor for the Nob Hill Gazette, Merla Zellerbach’s most recent endeavor is a leadership role with Compassion and Choices, a nonprofit organization whose mission is to help terminally ill people die with dignity. Some of the charities that have benefited from Zellerbach’s service include the American Red Cross, Conard House, the Leukemia Society, American Friends Service Committee, Planned Parenthood and the San Francisco Art Institute.