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Public Affairs

San Francisco D.A. to keynote Commencement

April 12, 2007

Photo of Kamala HarrisKamala D. Harris will be the keynote speaker at SF State's 106th Commencement on Saturday, May 26. Harris, San Francisco's district attorney since 2004, is the first woman elected to the office in San Francisco and the first African American woman D.A. in California history.

Raised in Berkeley, Harris is the daughter of two college professors and civil rights activists who instilled in her a strong commitment to justice and public service.

Since taking office Harris has aimed to prosecute crime while also maintaining a commitment to rehabilitation and preserving civil liberties. She has increased felony conviction rates to 67 percent, the highest in a decade; secured a 40 percent increase in state prison sentences; and more than doubled the conviction rate for felony gun trials to 90 percent in 2006. She also assembled a special team to pursue tougher gun charging policies and worked with state and federal officials to secure funding for programs to combat gang violence and prosecute juvenile gun crimes and adults who furnish guns to minors.

Harris' commitment to improve rehabilitation and ensure social justice is demonstrated in such innovations as the Back on Track offender job training program, the expansion of community courts and free legal clinics in immigrant neighborhoods.

Statewide, Harris helped author AB3042, which ensures that a conviction for a sexual offense with a minor is punishable with an additional year in prison if the victim was a prostituted minor. Harris has also taken on the perpetrators of the modern-day slave trade by co-sponsoring the California Trafficking Victims Protection Act, which makes human trafficking in California a felony. One of the most comprehensive in the nation, this measure addresses intrastate trafficking and combines both civil and criminal remedies to combat the problem.

"I am honored to be selected to speak to the graduates of a university known for its commitment to social justice," Harris said. "I know there will be many in this graduating class who are taking their first steps toward public service, and I want to encourage them to take up a lifelong commitment to their communities."

Prior to her election, Harris served the San Francisco D.A.'s office as managing attorney of its Career Criminal Unit and head of its Division on Families and Children. Earlier in her career Harris was a successful prosecutor in Alameda County and San Francisco.

A graduate of Howard University and University of California Hastings College of Law, Harris is a member of the National District Attorney's Association and served on the Platform Committee for the 2004 National Democratic Convention. She has received national recognition for her leadership including being honored as a "National Urban League Woman of Power" and "One of America's Most Powerful Women" on the Oprah Winfrey Show.

"Throughout her trailblazing law career Ms. Harris has demonstrated her commitment to youth in a variety of ways," President Robert A. Corrigan said. "She is a leader in mentorship programs, has authored legislation to fight child exploitation and is dedicated to finding ways of keeping youth from careers in crime. I have no doubt that our new graduates will find her inspiring."

This year SF State will confer degrees to about 8,000 students. More information is available on the Commencement Web page.

-- Denize Springer
Photo: Courtesy of Kamala Harris


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Last modified April 12, 2007 by University Communications