LOIS BARTH EPSTEIN, M.D.,
D. Sc. (h.c.)
Lois Barth Epstein is a limitless woman who excels as a physician
and scientist; as wife, mother and grandmother; as a community leader;
and now as an artist.
A 1959 graduate of Harvard Medical School, Lois achieved international
recognition for accomplishments in medical research. As UCSF
Professor of Pediatrics and Director of the interferon and Tumor
Immunology Laboratory in the Cancer Research Institute, Dr. Epstein
pioneered in interferon, cytokine, and Down syndrome research.
Her many honors include a National Institutes of Health MERIT award,
the Lifetime Achievement in Research Award from the International
Society for Interferon and Cytokine Research, and an honorary Doctor
of Science degree. The author of more than 130 scientific
publications, she has served on advisory committees to NIH and on
editorial boards of scientific journals. She has lectured
and chaired scientific sessions around the world.
Lois mentored students and younger faculty throughout her career.
She was Chair of the Mentoring Committee of Women in Cancer Research.
Service to community has been equally important. She has served
as Chair of Endowment of the Marin Symphony, President of the Board
of the Dance Association, and currently serves on the Art and Endowment
committees of the Peninsula Library Foundation Board of the Belvedere-Tiburon
Married for 45 years to a fellow physician, Lois has been a steadfast
presence in his life. She takes great joy in the lives of
her daughter, her three sons and their wives, her five grandchildren,
and her extended family. Lois prepared for retirement by training
in the art of glass. She now does mosaics and flame working
in her home studio.
Read about her experiences
as an honoree.
Elberta Eriksson is a social
worker, family therapist, and a leader in child advocacy and family
issues. A graduate of Sacramento and San Francisco State
Universities, she is on the faculty at Dominican College and the California
Graduate School of Psychology. As the Director of the
Multi-Cultural Outreach Project at the Family Service Agency in Marin and
formerly a family therapy consultant at Operation Give a Damn, Ms. Eriksson
received 20 year service awards from both organizations. She has
developed multi-cultural awareness training programs for teachers and
community workers in agencies and schools.
Ms. Eriksson is actively involved in the Marin
City Project, participating in the design of the social services to be
provided. She is serving her third term on the Human Rights
Commission and is the founder of the Marin African-American Coalition,
which provides social, political, educational and cultural exchange.
She has received awards for her contributions to the prevention of child
abuse from both the State of California and the Marin County Board of
Supervisors. Her Study of "Interracial Marriages (Black/White)
in the Bay Area" was published in 1970. A Mill Valley resident,
she is a Board Certified Diplomat, a State Delegate on the Democratic
Committee to advance family and children's rights, and a charter member of
the American Family Therapy Academy.
Read the extended biography by nancy Harris
| While still in high school Marilee Eckert felt a calling to help
youth keep their lives on track. She grew up on a small horse farm in
rural Pennsylvania, her free time spent trail riding in the Blue Ridge
Mountains. In a nearby town was a well-known residential treatment
program for teens struggling with drug addition. Books had been written
about the program, and the stories of teens who changed their lives
through the program piqued Eckert’s interest. She decided she wanted to
be a change agent helping people improve their lives.
During her senior year in high school, her mother died of ALS
(Lou Gehrig’s Disease). Eckert started college that year but was too
distraught and dropped out before completing her first semester. For the
next two years she worked at various jobs and struggled emotionally.
Then one day she received what she calls “a letter from God.” The letter
was from the university stating she had been re-admitted and when to
report for the next semester’s classes. Eckert had not re-applied but
the letter made her stop and think about her future. She returned to
college, finished her Bachelor’s degree and went on for a Master’s in
According to Eckert none of this would have been possible without
the support of many magnificent women who came into her life just when
she needed them to help her along the way to her success. “I stand on
the shoulders of many strong women who have guided me on the path I
continue to follow today,” she says. “It is my responsibility to pass
that on to those who come behind me.”
Eckert has spent her entire career helping youth develop their
lives in positive ways. She taught children with learning disabilities
in New York City, guided university students navigating the transition
to independence and directed an inner-city youth employment program in
Oakland, CA. During ten summers working at Girl Scout camps she
developed her passion for protecting the environment and a deep love of
the out-of-doors. “Blue skies, green trees and crisp fresh air make me a
better person,” she says.
Since 1992, Eckert has combined her passions for youth
development and environmental conservation as the leader of Conservation
Corps North Bay (CCNB). Eckert grew the fledgling organization into a
$7 million operation that now serves hundreds of youth annually in three
corps-owned facilities in San Rafael, Novato and Cotati. The program
philosophy and structure designed under Eckert’s supervision supports
struggling young people who want to get their lives back on track.
Through this program, thousands of disenfranchised youth have received
an educational work experience that connects them to their communities
and teaches them to become voices for a just and fair environment. In
the process, the young workers have improved Marin County’s environment,
school curriculum, parks and open spaces.
Knowing that biological diversity is critical to a healthy
ecosystem, Eckert applies that same principle in her organizational
model. She initiated a charter school at the corps so that participants
can earn a high school diploma. She instituted a formal Corps-to-Career
program that tracks and supports youth for two years after they leave
the Corps. She added programs to serve a larger and a more diverse group
of youth, from middle school students through college graduates. Rather
than being overwhelmed by the wide diversity of life experiences of the
corpsmembers, Eckert welcomes the challenge of helping young people
build and maintain a work community of mutual respect. This, she
believes, contributes to the positive life transformations reported by
so many corps graduates.
Eckert does not limit her focus to local efforts. She is a leader
in the youth development and service corps movements in California and
nationally, as well as a global visionary who believes that all our
decisions and actions have an impact that ripples around the world.
“Driving our cars here in Marin County affects the lives of people
across the globe. Auto emissions are creating a hole in the ozone that
is turning parts of Africa into desert. Increased droughts and flooding
combined with the AIDS epidemic are decimating African communities,
leaving millions of orphans in countries with no resources to take care
The awareness of this crisis led Eckert to her decision to adopt four
daughters from Ethiopia, which she calls the most rewarding part of her
life. “There is nothing more satisfying than watching my children
flourish and grow into uniquely beautiful, talented and loving people,”
she reflects. ”I have nothing but gratitude for all I have been given.”
Phyllis Faber graduated with a Master's in Microbiology from Yale
University and attended San Francisco State. She is a recognized
authority in the area of environmental issues, particularly wetlands.
Her work in long-term monitoring of wetlands in San Francisco Bay
is providing data for a new round of marsh restoration projects.
She is the author of two wetland field guides, published through her
own Pickleweed Press. Under her ten-year editorship, the California
Native Plant Society's journal, Fremontia, has become the
most influential native plant journal in the country. Ms. Faber combines
talents in science, politics, education, environmental policy, and
citizen activism. She co founded and served as chairwoman of
the Marin Agricultural Land Trust (MALT) and, in 1972, she was in
the forefront of the fight to attain coastal zone protection for California.
She served on the California Coastal Commission for eight years.
She was a founding member of Marin Discoveries and the Environmental
Forum of Marin in whose training program she has taught for 22 years.
In addition to local interests, she serves on a number of statewide
boards including the Planning and Conservation League, the League
for Coastal Protection and Pro Esteros.
She received the Environmentalist of the
Year award from the Marin Environmental Alliance in 1990, the Marin
Green Award from the Marin Conservation League in 1990, and the Coastal
and Ocean Management Award from the American Society of Civil Engineers
Read the extended biography by Barbara J. Euser
Mimi Baez Farina first picked up a guitar when she was thirteen.
By the time she was eighteen, she was performing her music on stage.
Since then, Mimi's life has always been close to the performing arts.
In 1974, Mimi became the founder and guiding force behind Bread and
Roses, a non-profit organization which brings free, live, top-quality
entertainment to people confined or isolated in institutions.
Over the years, Mimi has made a significant contribution to the lives
of people in prisons, convalescent homes, AIDS wards, rehabilitation
hospitals and other confined situations. A successful musician
with numerous recordings and live performances around the United States
and Europe, Mimi has used her own talents and enlisted the talents
of others. These artists, by volunteering their time and abilities,
have made a positive difference in the lives of an often forgotten
Bread and Roses currently produces over 400 live
shows each year, reaching a total annual audience of about fifteen
thousand people in the San Francisco Bay Area. Bread and Roses
does not charge any fee for its shows. It operates through donations
and grants, keeping its entertainment affordable for all people.
Mimi Farina's commitment and dedication to the success of Bread and
Roses have now inspired other agencies serving many communities throughout
the country to establish similar services.
Read the extended biography by Nancy Nakai
With understanding and enthusiasm
for the democratic process, Virginia Franklin infused several generations
of high school students with appreciation for civil liberties and our
system of government. Through her efforts, many Marin teens have
participated in "mock political conventions"; others have had
the opportunity to experience government in Sacramento or Washington, D.C.
Beginning teaching after her graduation from
U.C. Berkeley at age 19, she always strongly believed in an informed
student population, opposing book bans and other restrictions on
instructing. Even during a storm of protest in the 1960's when she
was attacked for encouraging critical thinking, she remained a fearless
teacher of all ideas. Mrs. Franklin successfully survived attacks on
her teaching by the John Birch Society, the American Legion, Congressional
hearings and nation-wide publicity in Life Magazine. She went
on to get a doctorate in education and developed a curriculum for
educators on how to teach civics and democracy. Named outstanding
teacher of the year in 1982 by the Marin Educational Foundation, she
encouraged students to write bills which were actually introduced into
Congress. Other honors have included Barbara Boxer's "Women
Making History", the Valley Forge Classroom medal, the constitutional
Rights Foundation Award and numerous others.
After "retirement', Mrs. Franklin served
as an active consultant and mentor for Marin's Human Rights Resource
Center, sharing her experience in education and commitment to
democracy. She passed away in 1991.
Read the extended biography by Nancy Nakai