Yvonne Brathwaite Burke, a Representative from California. Burke won election to the L.A. County Board of Supervisors in 1992. A year later, she became the first woman and the first member of a racial minority group to chair the board. Burke has been re-elected three times, chairing the board of supervisors in 2002-2003 and, most recently, in 2007-2008. Ms. Burke retired from the Board in 2008.
She earned a B.A. in political science from University of California at Los Angeles in 1953 and her J.D. from the University of California School of Law. After graduating, she entered into her own private practice. In addition to her private practice, she served as the state’s deputy corporation commissioner and as a hearing officer for the Los Angeles Police Commission. Burke organized a legal defense team for Watts rioters in 1965 and was named by Governor Edmond Brown to the McCone Commission, which investigated the conditions that led to the riot. A year later she won election to the California assembly. She eventually chaired the assembly’s committee on urban development and won re-election in 1968 and 1970.
In 1972 Ms. Burke was elected to the Congress representing a district that encompassed much of southwest Los Angeles. In 1978, Burke declined to run for re-election to the 96th Congress (1979-1981), in order to campaign for the office of California attorney general. She won the Democratic nomination but lost to Republican State Senator George Deukmejian in the general election. In June 1979, California Governor Jerry Brown appointed Ms. Burke to the Los Angeles County board of supervisors. In 1980, she returned to private law practice. In 1984, Burke was the vice chair of the Los Angeles Olympics Organizing Committee.