Yvonne Brathwaite Burke ’53
An attorney with Fine, Perzik and Friedman, Yvonne Brathwaite Burke was the first woman and the first African American ever to serve on the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors. In her political career, she served six years as California Assemblywoman and six years in the United States House of Representatives. Her distinguished record of public service encompasses an impressive political career as well as volunteer efforts on behalf of the public outside of the political arena. Burke serves as a University of California Regent and is currently a member of the Los Angeles Olympic Organizing Committee. She also serves as a member of UNESCO Commission and is on the board of directors for MGM/UA Home Entertainment.
As a member of the state legislature, her efforts led to the enactment of laws that greatly benefited California’s indigent children, health insurance consumers, residents of homes for the elderly and orphaned and victims of governmental urban renewal and expansion projects. Prior to her election to the House of Representatives, Burke served as vice-chair of the 1972 Democratic National Convention. She presently chairs the National Democratic Committee on Platform Accountability.
A native of Los Angeles, Burke graduated from UCLA with a bachelor’s degree in political science and earned her J.D. from the University of Southern California. During the following 10 years, Burke was a practicing attorney and involved community leader. She served as deputy corporation commissioner, a hearing officer for the Police Commission and as an attorney on the McCone Commission staff.
Burke is a 1974 recipient of the UCLA Alumni Award for Professional Achievement. She has been selected as Woman of the Year by the Los Angeles Times and the National Association of Black Manufacturers. Time Magazine selected her as one of America’s 100 future leaders. She is a fellow of the Kennedy School of Politics at Harvard and a Chubb Fellow at Yale University.