San Jose Mercury News - Congresswomen Zoe Lofgren, Anna Eshoo receive Spirit of Silicon Valley award from Silicon Valley Leadership Group

January 29, 2014
In The News

By Sal Pizarro

Emphasizing the need for role models and mentors to get more women in tech, the Silicon Valley Leadership Group honored Congresswomen Zoe Lofgren and Anna Eshoo with the "Spirit of Silicon Valley" lifetime achievement awards at its annual luncheon in Santa Clara on Friday.

The two veteran legislators were great choices -- both have immersed themselves in technology issues and can rattle off geek-speak with the best of 'em.

"I can't think of two more deserving people than the two we are honoring today," said Cisco CEO John Chambers, who introduced Eshoo. "And it's about time we had some women representing this area."

Eshoo, by the way, had a nice line by saying Silicon Valley's spirit of innovation was a continuation of the inventive nature of the country's Founding Fathers, noting "Franklin's bifocals have given way to Google glasses."

Speaker after speaker at the lunch hammered home the message of doing a better job of recruiting women to tech fields in front of the crowd of more than 1,000 corporate and business leaders at the Santa Clara Convention Center. A highlight was the Women in Leadership panel discussion on "STEAM" education. That takes the traditional STEM fields -- science, technology, engineering and math -- and puts the arts right in the middle of it all.

And it was a good lineup of smart, strong women on the panel, too: University of California President Janet Napolitano, California first lady Anne Gust Brown, MetricStream CEO Shellye Archambeau, Grok CEO Donna Dubinksy and Lark CEO Julia Hu (and they were introduced by Santa Clara County Supervisor Cindy Chavez and Palo Alto City Councilwoman Liz Kniss and moderated by my Merc colleague Editorial Page Editor Barbara Marshman).

So let's hear it for the ladies; It's about time they got their due in Silicon Valley.

CLASSY CLASS: Lots of cheers going on these days at Bellarmine College Prep for legendary baseball coach Gary Cunningham, who's being induced into the San Jose Sports Hall of Fame on Nov. 20. Cunningham -- who notched 526 victories in 21 seasons before he retired in 2008 -- is part of the hall's 19th class, which includes phenomenal Stanford women's basketball coach Tara VanDerveer, original San Jose Earthquakes star Paul Child and the late Frankie Albert, a standout quarterback who led Stanford's "Wow Boys" team to a 1941 Rose Bowl victory and later signed with the San Francisco 49ers.

The always-inspiring reception and dinner, again being held at SAP Center in downtown San Jose, will include honors for high school athletes of the year Aaron Gordon (Archbishop Mitty) and Linnea Mack (Pioneer), amateur athletes of the year Keilani Ricketts and Mark Appel and Special Olympian Barry Gee.

For ticket information, go to or call 408-288-2936.

BRINGING THE FUNNY: This "Operation Laughter" taking place Wednesday at the De Anza Hotel in downtown San Jose is sounding more and more interesting. It's a benefit comedy show that'll support the Walking Point Foundation, a nonprofit that helps mentor wounded combat vets in the arts. Comedians Michael Pritchard and Jeff Applebaum will provide the laughs at the 5:30 p.m. event, which includes cocktail and appetizers.

Tickets are $20 and are available online at Veterans get 50 percent off at the door by showing a military ID.

ARTISTIC TALK: The San Jose Museum of Art's newest exhibition, "Hidden Heroes: The Genius of Everyday Things," is a wonderful show on industrial design featuring three dozen common items that have become essential to modern life. It's especially great for people like me who love to delve into the history and minutiae of just about anything.

My guess is that Scott Doorley, creative director of the Hasso Plattner Institute of Design at Stanford University, is one of those people, too. He'll be giving a lunchtime lecture at noon Wednesday in connection with the exhibit and talking about how current design stems from some of these everyday items.

The lecture is free with museum admission.