Senator Wynona Lipman Chair

Headshot of Senator Laphonza Butler

The Power of Black Women's Leadership in Politics

U.S. Senator Laphonza Butler 

Wednesday, April 24, 2024
7:00 pm

Kathleen W. Ludwig Global Village Living Learning Center
Rutgers University
9 Suydam Street, New Brunswick, NJ

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Appointed to the United States Senate by California Governor Gavin Newsom, Senator Laphonza Butler has spent her career championing fairness and justice. For nearly two decades, she was an organizer and leader in the labor movement. At just 30 years old Senator Butler was elected president of California’s largest homecare and nursing home workers union SEIU local 2015. She helped to orchestrate raising California’s minimum wage to $15 an hour and secure paid sick days for the state’s home care workers. As president, she united the power of home care workers statewide, growing the union’s membership to more than 325,000 and making SEIU 2015 the largest homecare worker union in America. From working to expand retirement security by passing CA Secure Choice Retirement Savings program, to efforts to improve health outcomes by passing legislation to protect children from cigarette marketing, Butler has been able to work across traditional lines of difference in order to make progress on issues that matter. Prior to her appointment to the Senate, Senator Butler was president of EMILYs list, which is dedicated to electing Democratic pro-choice women. During her tenure, EMILYs list recruited and supported over 600 women to run for elected office.


The Lipman Chair was created to honor the legacy of the late state Senator Wynona Lipman, the first African American woman in the New Jersey State Senate. The Lipman Chair was established in 2000 when Governor Christine Todd Whitman signed legislation that had been sponsored by the legislative leaders in both parties and passed in both houses without opposition. The legislature has generously continued its support for the Lipman Chair. More details about Senator Lipman's extraordinary life are available in her full biography (PDF) and in this video produced by the Legal Services of New Jersey when Senator Lipman was inducted into the New Jersey Equal Justice Library and Archive (NJEJLA) Circle of Honor in 2017. 

The Lipman Chair is intended to celebrate Senator Lipman, remind people of her achievements, and encourage others to follow in the footsteps of this path-breaking African American woman leader. An advisory committee, including members of Senator Lipman's family, members of the New Jersey legislature, and former members of the Senator's staff, has worked with CAWP to make the chair a success. CAWP is grateful to the Governor, the legislature, and advisory committee members for their commitment to honoring Senator Lipman's memory and advancing women's leadership.

Consistent with the Senator’s legacy, CAWP uses the generous support provided by the state legislature to:

  • inspire a broad public audience with prominent speakers whose work reflects Senator Lipman's interests and values;
  • educate college women at CAWP’s NEW Leadership® New Jersey program about how and why they should become engaged in the political process and take on leadership roles;
  • train women considering running for office or working on campaigns in New Jersey at CAWP’s Ready to Run® program and its associated diversity programs.

Lipman Chair funds are applied in ways that reflect Senator Lipman's interests: for Essex County women attending Ready to Run® and community college students in NEW Leadership®.

Lipman Chairholders

Yamiche Alcindor (2021)
Linsey Davis (2020)
Donna Brazile, Yolanda Caraway, Leah Daughtry, and Minyon Moore (2019)
April Ryan (2017-18)
Joy Ann Reid (2017)
Nia-Malika Henderson (2016)
Michel Martin (2015)
Congresswoman Donna Edwards (2014)
Melody C. Barnes (2013)
Valerie B. Jarrett (2011)
Michele Norris (2008-09)
Gwen Ifill (2007)
Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton (2006)
Donna Brazile (2005)
Ambassador Carol Moseley Braun (2004)
Professor Patricia Williams (2002-03)
Former U.S. Secretary of Labor Alexis Herman (2001-02)
The Honorable Gertrude Fester (2001)
Former Congresswoman Shirley Chisholm (2000)