Cover Story

Celebrating Women’s History Month with Two Trailblazing Community Leaders: The Honorable Toni Atkins & The Honorable Christine Kehoe

By Martin Campos

Growing up in San Diego, a city known for its vibrant culture and progressive spirit, I was deeply influenced by the leadership of Christine Kehoe and Toni Atkins. As a young nonbinary individual trying to find my place in the world, these two trailblazers were powerful role models, showing me the impact of strong, inclusive leadership.


Christine Kehoe, the first openly gay elected official in San Diego, broke barriers and paved the way for LGBTQ+ representation in politics. Her journey from a local environmental activist to a State Senator was a testament to her resilience and dedication to her community. Kehoe’s work in championing LGBTQ+ rights and environmental causes taught me the importance of staying true to one’s convictions and the transformative power of committed leadership.


Toni Atkins’ story was equally inspiring. Rising from humble beginnings to become the first lesbian Speaker of the California State Assembly and later the President pro-Tempore of the California State Senate, Atkins exemplified what it means to lead with empathy and inclusivity. Her journey showed me the value of diverse voices in decision-making and representation’s critical role in shaping a just society.

The paths carved by Kehoe and Atkins, filled with challenges and triumphs, taught me crucial lessons about perseverance and advocacy. In a political landscape often resistant to change, they demonstrated the importance of standing firm in one’s identity and fighting for the rights of those often marginalized. Their legacy is a reminder of the ongoing struggle for equality and the need for continuous advocacy for the LGBTQ+ community.

Their impact on me has been profound. They’ve shown that leadership isn’t just about holding a position of power; it’s about using that power to effect positive change, to champion the rights of the underrepresented, and to create a more inclusive society. As we continue to face challenges in our fight for equality, the examples set by Christine Kehoe and Toni Atkins inspire us to keep moving forward, raise our voices, and support each other in our quest for a world that embraces diversity in all its forms.