Ann Shaw

1921 – 2015

Activist who challenged discrimination against women and broke down barriers for African American women in positions of authority in the boardroom

Ann Shaw received her MSW in 1968 from the University of Southern California but was an active volunteer in social services and a leader of the YWCA and other programs in Los Angeles long before that. For nearly 50 years, she confronted discrimination, breaking barriers for women, particularly African-American women. She applied her strength of purpose and people skills to integrating major organizational boards by serving as their first woman and first African-American member.

Shaw became a part of California history in 1975 when she was appointed by Governor Jerry Brown as the first woman and first African American to serve on the California Commission on Judicial Performance. She served as chairwoman of the board of the Founders Savings and Loan Association in Los Angeles. Other leadership positions included president of the Wilfandel Club of Los Angeles and vice president of the Los Angeles Urban League.

Shaw served as a board member of the California Community Foundation, the Joint State Task Force on the Family, and the Board of Visitors of the UCLA School of Medicine. She was a trustee emeritus of the University of Redlands. She acted as secretary of the California Medical Center Foundation Board, a board member of the Cathedral Corporation of the Episcopal Church, and a member of the USC School of Social Work Board of Councilors.

As president of the Los Angeles YWCA, Shaw was involved in establishing and operating the Women’s Job Corps, where she eventually moved from volunteer to professional staff. She also served as a member of the YWCA National Board, as well as the YWCA National World Service Council.

Shaw was a member of the Key Council of the Afro-American Museum, the Women’s Council of the Los Angeles Chamber of Commerce, and the District Attorney’s Advisory Council. She has held leadership positions with Church Women United, Salvation Army, American Red Cross and Charles Drew University of Medicine.

Recognition of Shaw’s advocacy for women in leadership positions came from across the community. Some of the awards she has received include the Julian C. Dixon Institute of Cultural Studies Community Leadership Award and the USC School of Social Work June Simmons Distinguished Alumna Award. She was also given the United Way Gold Key Award and the NAACP Legal Defense and Education Fund 1985 Black Woman of Achievement Award. These represent just a sampling of the recognition and honors she has received in her long career. She was among those selected by the LA Herald Examiner in its special edition of the 50 most powerful women in Los Angeles.
Shaw could be a “tough lady” who appeared fearless in her confrontations with leaders and policies in Los Angeles and beyond. The mother of four children, she is the widow of the late Leslie N. Shaw Sr., who also broke manner barriers in his lifetime.

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