Small Webber Spencer Class of 1993–1994 Women’s Law & Public Policy Endowed Fellowship
A $1 million endowed fund from Christine Webber to the Women’s Law & Public Policy Fellowship Program will develop lawyers’ litigation skills and ultimately advance women’s rights.
“This fund is an endorsement of our future viability,” says Jill Morrison, director of the Women’s Law & Public Policy Fellowship and the Leadership and Advocacy for Women in Africa Program. “We expect to be around for as long as there is discrimination against women, which unfortunately appears to be forever.”
Webber, an alumna of the program, created the fund in honor of her two dearest friends and fellowship classmates, Amy Spencer and the late Lisa Small (L’92). She was inspired by her grandmother, who with Webber’s grandfather raised six children with very little money. Despite her family’s needs, her grandmother would regularly scrounge together 85 cents, Webber remembers, and then ask her older children for an extra fifteen cents so she could send a dollar to charity.
“I wanted to give something as meaningfully a part of my income as that 85 cents was to my grandmother. She inspired me to dig deep and fund the fellowship,” recalls Webber. “When people give what they can, even if it may seem small to someone else, they can inspire other people to give.”
The inaugural fellow, Kendall Onyendu, will work at the Washington Lawyers Committee (WLC) for Civil Rights and Urban Affairs on issues that disproportionately affect women, such as workers rights, sexual harassment, and family and medical leave.
“I’m a woman of color and my identity shaped how I view the law,” Onyendu says. “I see how work in all legal fields touches communities I care about, and this motivates me to go into public service. I’m excited about the WLC because they have an intersectional practice and look at the most impactful areas of life: employment, housing, immigration. If you focus on economic empowerment issues like employment discrimination, its effects trickle down through race, gender, and immigration issues—it’s all interconnected.”
Webber—who works on cases of sexual discrimination and civil rights violations, and credits the fellowship for setting her on a career path—looks forward to following the careers of Onyendu and future fellows.
“What any one fellow can accomplish is a small part of what needs to be done to achieve full equality in this country,” Webber says. “When you look at the ripple effect of all the people who continue in this field, cumulatively that has to have a significant impact over the long run on the protection of women’s rights.”