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.
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.