Most Powerful Lesbian Moms in America 2011

Yes, it’s that time of year again! Out magazine just published its fifth annual list of “The Power 50: The Most Powerful Gay Men and Women in America,” which means it’s time for my fifth annual list of The Most Powerful Lesbian Moms in America.

The definition of “power” is subjective, of course. For the purposes of this list, I considered it to mean someone who is known by a large cross-section of the population, within or outside the lesbian community, is at or near the top of her chosen profession, or who is in some other way a well-known personality and long-time influencer. I aimed for inclusion rather than exclusion, but tried to pick those whose impact in their fields or in the world at large is widespread and lasting. I intend this to be a fun list, not to be taken too seriously, so let me know if I’ve missed anyone you deem worthy.

I’m including the names of partners, even if one person is not as well known, in order to acknowledge the contributions of both people to their families and to each others’ achievements. I may have missed a few partners, however, if their names are not public, and blurred matters if one partner came along when the children were older. I was not able to find last names and professions for a few others. Someday I’ll be able to hire that research staff.

Anyone I missed? (Especially people of color, who should be represented in larger numbers than I could find—but I’ll note I still found more than Out, even though I limited myself to people who are parents.) Can you help fill in gaps in the information (partners’ names and/or professions, if public; breakups or new partners; job changes)? Leave a comment (with a link to your source, if possible).

I’ll also add that we must each define success for ourselves. It may mean choosing to stay home with one’s children, or to forgo career advancement for the sake of one’s family. I’ve done that myself. I think there’s no harm, though—and quite a bit of inspiration—in recognizing those who have achieved in both career and family.

Of course, the thing about motherhood is that your kids always think you’re the most powerful mom(s) in the world, and it’s their opinions that really matter.

In alphabetic, not rank, order by last name of the generally more well known partner:

  • Roberta Achtenberg, Commissioner, U.S. Commission on Civil Rights, and the first openly lesbian or gay public official appointed to a Senate-confirmed position (as as Assistant Secretary of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development)
  • Diane Anderson-Minshall, author; editor in chief of Curve magazine
  • Susan Arnold, former vice chair and president of global business units at Proctor & Gamble, and Diana Salter
  • Meredith Baxter, actor, and Nancy Locke, general contractor
  • Amanda Bearse, actor and director
  • Elizabeth Birch, LGBT-rights advocate and former head of HRC
  • Mary Bonauto, GLAD Civil Rights Project Director, and Jennifer Wriggens, law professor, University of Maine
  • Lisa Brummel, senior vice president for human resources, Microsoft
  • Beth Callaghan, co-founder of Our Chart; director of Web operations, for technology site All Things D, and former editor-in-chief of PlanetOut
  • Greta Cammermeyer, Colonel, Washington National Guard (ret.) and LGBT-rights activist, and Diane Divelbess, artist
  • Rea Carey, executive director of the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, and Margaret Conway
  • Jane Castor, Police Chief of Tampa, Florida
  • Ilene Chaiken, creator and executive producer of The L Word
  • Debra Chasnoff, Academy Award-winning documentary filmmaker
  • Mary Cheney, public relations executive, political campaigner, and vice-presidential daughter, and Heather Poe, former U.S. Park Ranger
  • Lisa Cholodenko, film director, and Wendy Melvoin, musician
  • Cathy Connolly, Wyoming state representative
  • Cat Cora, “Iron Chef,” and Jennifer Cora
  • Judy Dlugacz, founder and president of Olivia travel company
  • Karla Drenner, Georgia state representative
  • Amy Errett, partner, Maveron (a venture capital firm), former CEO of Olivia, former chief asset gathering officer, E*Trade, and Clare
  • Melissa Etheridge, musician
  • Tammy Lynn Etheridge née Michaels, actor
  • Jodie Foster, actor (I’m adding her name with the caveat that it is debatable whether Foster’s thanking of “my beautiful Cydney” during a speech in 2008 was meant as a coming out. Their children bear the names of both Foster and Cydney Bernard, however, which to me is indicative enough to warrant her inclusion here. The couple is reportedly no longer together.)
  • Jenny Fulle, executive vice president of production and executive producer of Sony Pictures Imageworks, and pioneer in opening up Little League to girls
  • Sara Gilbert, actor, and Alison Adler, TV producer
  • Judy Gold, stand-up comedian and two-time Emmy Award-winning writer and producer of The Rosie O’Donnell Show
  • Lisa Henderson, general manager, Olivia, and partner
  • Sue Hyde, director of Creating Change at the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, and Jade McGleughlin
  • Delores A. Jacobs, chief executive officer of The San Diego LGBT Community Center, and Heather Berberet
  • Nina Jacobson, film producer, currently at DreamWorks SKG, and formerly president of Walt Disney Motion Pictures Group
  • Cheryl Jacques, administrative judge for the Massachusetts Department of Industrial Accidents, former head of HRC, and former Massachusetts State Senator, and Jennifer Chrisler, executive director of the Family Equality Council
  • Lorri Jean, CEO of the Los Angeles Gay and Lesbian Center
  • Jolie Justus, Missouri state senator, and Shonda Garrison
  • Ellen Kahn, Family Project director for the Human Rights Campaign, and partner
  • Elaine Kaplan, general counsel, U.S. Office of Personnel Management
  • Kate Kendell, executive director of the National Center for Lesbian Rights, and Sandy Holmes
  • Honey Labrador, designer, television personality, and former model, and Nikki Flux, actor
  • Annie Leibowitz, photographer
  • Barbara Lenk, nominee to the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court, and Debra Krupp, attorney
  • Jennifer Levi, director of GLAD’s Transgender Rights Project and professor at Western New England College School of Law
  • Dr. Susan Love, president and medical director of the Dr. Susan Love Research Foundation, and leader of the breast cancer advocacy movement, and Dr. Helen Cooksey, surgeon
  • Jane Lynch, actor, and Lara Embry, psychologist
  • Del Martin (d. August 2008) and Phyllis Lyon, activists
  • Mary Beth Maxwell, senior advisor, U.S. Department of Labor and founding Executive Director of American Rights at Work
  • Robin McGehee, professor and LGBT activist, and Kathy Adams, professor
  • Kelly McGillis, actor
  • Mary Carolyn Morgan, judge of the San Francisco County Superior Court
  • Sherri Murrell, head coach of Portland State University, and the only out coach in NCAA Division I women’s basketball
  • Alison Nathan, attorney and President Obama’s nominee for the U.S. District Court to the Southern District of New York, and Meg Satterthwaite, law professor.
  • Cynthia Nixon, actor, and Christine Marinoni, education activist
  • Rosie O’Donnell, actor and television personality
  • Kelli O’Donnell, founder of R Family Vacations and former Nickelodeon marketing executive
  • Annise Parker, mayor of Houston, Texas, and Kathy Hubbard
  • Nancy Polikoff, professor of law at American University, and an early advocate for the custody rights of lesbian mothers, who helped develop legal theories in support of second-parent adoption and visitation rights for legally unrecognized parents.
  • Jen Rainin, founding partner of lesbian travel company Sweet and president of the Kenneth Rainin Foundation, and Frances Stevens, editor in chief of Curve magazine
  • Hilary Rosen, political commentator and former head of the Recording Industry of America (RIAA)
  • E. Denise Simmons, city councilor and former mayor, Cambridge, Massachusetts, and Mattie Hayes
  • Kara Swisher, Wall Street Journal columnist, co-executive editor of technology site All Things D, and Megan Smith, vice president of new business development at Google
  • Sheryl Swoopes, professional basketball player and three-time Olympic gold medalist, and Alisa Scott, former basketball player and coach
  • Wanda Sykes, comedian, and Alex
  • Christine Vachon, film producer, and Marlene McCarty, graphic designer
  • Linda Villarosa, author, journalist, public speaker, former editor of the New York Times and former executive editor of Essence magazine, and Jana Welch, marketing executive
  • Karen Williams, comic
  • Marie Wilson, founder and president of The White House Project, co-creator of Take Our Daughters and Sons to Work Day, and former president of the Ms. Foundation for Women, and Nancy Lee