WEDDINGTON, SARAH RAGLE (1945 ~ 2021). The following is a biography for Sarah Ragle Weddington, former member of the Texas House of Representatives. The biography was provided by the Weddington family.
Dr. Sarah Weddington lives a life of leadership and shares her expertise and insights with others. She is a nationally known attorney and spokesperson on leadership and public issues, and her experience and charisma make her a highly sought after speaker on the development of leadership skills.
Dr. Weddington is particularly well-known for her work on issues affecting women through her many roles which include attorney, legislator, Presidential advisor, professor, and expert called upon by the national media and institutions of higher learning.
She is a proven leader in government at the state and national levels. In 1973, she became the first woman from Austin to serve in the 150-member Texas House of Representatives, serving for three terms. In 1977, she was the first woman ever to hold the title of General Counsel of the U.S. Department of Agriculture where Dr. Weddington supervised more than 200 lawyers. From 1978 to 1981, she served as Assistant to President Jimmy Carter, directing the Administration's work on women's issues and leadership outreach. From 1983 to 1985, she was the first female director of the Texas Office of State-Federal Relations.
Dr. Weddington writes and travels extensively, speaking on the development of leadership skills (read her praise from professional organizations).
From 1981 through 1990, Dr. Weddington was a Distinguished Lecturer at Texas Woman's University (TWU) and an adjunct professor in the Department of History and Government in 1993. In March 2001, Dr. Weddington returned to TWU for The Sarah Weddington Centennial Leadership Conference.
Dr. Weddington is currently an adjunct professor at the University of Texas at Austin, where she is shaping a new generation of leaders through her classes "Gender-Based Discrimination" and "Leadership in America" (view praise from students in her leadership classes). She started teaching there in l986.
In her first book, A Question of Choice, Dr. Weddington detailed the landmark Roe v. Wade case, which she successfully argued as a young attorney before the US Supreme Court in 1973. She is believed to be the youngest person ever to win a case before the US Supreme Court. Currently Dr. Weddington is working on a book on the topic of leadership and self-renewal.
Dr. Weddington has received numerous honors and awards. In 2006, she received the International Athena Award, which is presented annually to individuals who have achieved a high degree of professional excellence, have assisted women to develop their full potential by opening up leadership opportunities, and whose body of work has made a national or international impact.
In 2005, Dr. Weddington began a three-year term on the Council for the American Bar Association's Section of Individual Rights and Responsibilities. Dr. Weddington also received the 2005 Ministry to Women Award from the National Unitarian Universalist Women's Federation. That same year, the University of California, Berkley, School of Public Health honored Dr. Weddington with the National Public Health Hero Award. Dr. Weddington was the inaugural speaker for the Women's Leadership Series held at the John Glenn Institute at Ohio State University.
In 2004, Dr. Weddington participated in the 2004 Most Powerful Women Summit sponsored by Fortune Magazine. Dr. Weddington also received the 2003-2004 Courage Award from the Women Lawyer's Association of Los Angeles. Additionally, Dr. Weddington was a featured speaker at the March for Women's Lives in Washington, D.C., a march that attracted more than a million participants. In May of 2004, Dr. Weddington was a keynote speaker for the U.S.-China Conference on Women and Leadership held in Beijing and Shanghai, China. Dr. Weddington was also a featured speaker for the U.S. Oncology Executive Retreat.
Dr. Weddington was featured in a special section of TIME Magazine's March 31, 2003 edition called "80 Days that Changed the World". She was asked to write the entry for 1973, which featured the January 22, 1973 decision she won in Roe v. Wade.
In 2002, Dr. Weddington was featured in the Rutgers' Women's Rights Law Reporter "30th Anniversary Symposium Celebrating 30 Years of Women's Rights Law, Tribute to Women Lawyers and Activists." In 2001, she received the Speaking Out for Justice Award at the national convention for the American Association of University Women.
In 2000, Texas Lawyer named her "One of the Most Influential Lawyers of the 20th Century," and the Houston Chronicle named her as one of "The Tallest Texans - Those who left their mark on Texas and the rest of the world in the 20th Century." In 1999, she was honored as a "Texas Woman of the Century" by the Women's Chamber of Commerce of Texas and named a "Face of the Century" by the San Antonio (TX) Express-News. She is featured for her "Courage to Challenge" in Women of Courage: Inspiring Stories from the Women Who Lived Them by Katherine Martin.
In 1998, Dr. Weddington was the recipient of Leadership America's Hummingbird award for contributions toward the advancement of women's leadership and McMurry University's Trailblazer award for "setting a path for others to follow as servant leaders." In 1995, she was inducted into the Omicron Delta Kappa Society, the national leadership honor society. She was given the 1993 Woman of Distinction award at the National Conference for College Women Student Leaders. In 1990, she was named by the National Association for Campus Activities as "Best College Lecturer," and in 1980, she received the Planned Parenthood of America's highest honor, the Margaret Sanger award. Time Magazine named her one of the "Outstanding Young American Leaders." She has been selected as one of the ten "Outstanding Women in America." She has been featured in such publications as Working Women, People Magazine, and the Washington Post and has been a guest on such programs as The Today Show, Good Morning America, and CBS Morning News.
She received her J.D. from The University of Texas School of Law in 1967 and is a Distinguished Alumna of McMurry University in Abilene, Texas. She holds several honorary doctorates.