Governor Newsom Appoints Butler to Complete Senator Dianne Feinstein’s Term
By Dolores Quintana
Governor Gavin Newsom has appointed Laphonza Butler as the new United States Senator representing California, completing the term left vacant by the late Senator Dianne Feinstein, effective through 2024. Butler’s appointment is historic, as she will become California’s first openly LGBTQ United States Senator and the first Black lesbian to serve openly in Congress in American history.
A trusted adviser to Vice President Harris and a prominent figure in the nation’s largest organization dedicated to electing women, EMILY’s List, Butler brings a wealth of experience and dedication to her new role. She has a strong background in advocating for women, labor, and working-class families.
“An advocate for women and girls, a second-generation fighter for working people, and a trusted adviser to Vice President Harris, Laphonza Butler represents the best of California, and she’ll represent us proudly in the United States Senate,” said Governor Newsom.
Butler’s journey to this historic appointment is rooted in her working-class upbringing. Raised by a mother who worked tirelessly to provide for her and her two siblings after her father’s passing, Butler learned the value of hard work and perseverance.
Before her appointment to the Senate, Butler served as the President of EMILY’s List, where she made history as the first woman of color and mother to lead the organization. She has also been involved in various political campaigns, including those of Vice President Kamala Harris and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. Butler played a key role in Vice President Harris’s presidential campaign.
Butler’s impressive career includes over a decade of leadership as the president of SEIU Local 2015, the largest labor union in California, representing over 325,000 nursing home and home-care workers. She has also held roles such as President of SEIU United Long Term Care Workers (ULTCW), SEIU’s Property Services Division Director, SEIU International Vice President, and president of the SEIU California State Council.
Beyond her labor and political contributions, Butler served as the director of the Board of Governors of the Los Angeles branch of the Federal Reserve System. She was appointed to the University of California Board of Regents by Governor Jerry Brown in 2018, where she served until 2021. Additionally, Butler has been involved in various organizations, including the National Children’s Defense Fund, BLACK PAC, the Bay Area Economic Council Institute, and the MIT Community Innovators Lab, where she served as a fellow.
For her dedication and contributions, President Barack Obama recognized Butler as a “Champion for Change.” She holds a bachelor of arts degree in political science from Jackson State University and is married to her wife, Neneki, with whom she has a daughter named Nylah.