San Francisco Supervisor Catherine Stefani ’91 Motivated by Love of Public Service

Saint Mary’s College alumna Catherine Stefani ’91 takes seriously SMC’s motto, Enter to Learn, Leave to Serve—and after graduation pursued her dedication to social justice. Her mission is to serve those in need and represent the voiceless. Stefani was elected to her position as San Francisco Supervisor to serve District 2 in 2018 and has since represented six major metropolitan neighborhoods in the city.

“As a legislator, I am able to advocate for victims through public policy and being their voice at City Hall,” Stefani said. “This June, I have a ballot initiative that will create an Office of Victim and Witness Rights to serve victims of crime in San Francisco that are not being well-served by our current system. The ballot initiative will also establish a right to civil counsel for domestic violence victims to help them with the legal issues that, when unresolved, keep them trapped in the cycle of violence.”

“In addition to creating city-wide public policy to address issues such as public safety, small business vitality, anti-corruption, and other areas pertaining to San Francisco governance, I respond to the specific needs of my constituents on a case-by-case basis,” Stefani said.

Stefani credits her time at Saint Mary’s with inspiring her to pursue her career. “The liberal arts education at Saint Mary’s and the influence of the Christian Brothers helped cement a firm foundation for social responsibility,”’ she said. Her professors at Saint Mary’s cultivated her dreams to attend law school, and her four years in student government, culminating in vice -president her senior year, also taught her that campaigns are tough.

“I was so lucky to have incredible professors at Saint Mary’s. Professor Woolpert’s class on Constitutional Law inspired me to dive deeper into the Bill of Rights and solidified my desire to attend law school. He was incredibly supportive throughout my four years and always made me feel I could achieve my dreams. Professor Wilbur Chaffee was like a father figure and a wonderful thought provoker. He also supported all my goals and encouraged me to teach English in Japan after graduation instead of going straight to law school,” she said. “Brother Ron Isetti inspired me to not only respect the views of others but to really try to understand where people are coming from and to not be afraid to question myself—qualities essential to any elected official, in my opinion. I had one of the best conversations on the First Amendment over a plate of Brother Ron’s spaghetti in one of his delicious dorm dinners.”

Stefani believes she left Saint Mary’s with a great deal to be thankful for. “I came away from Saint Mary’s with such fond memories, life-long friends, and a love of reading and intellectual curiosity. Most importantly, Saint Mary’s set a foundation and a love of public service that allows me to give back to my community and to be of service to many people,” Stefani shared.

The alum also currently serves as the vice chair of the Public Safety and Neighborhood Services Committee, where she hears various measures related to infrastructure, traffic and parking control, parks and recreation, and public health, as well as measures related to the city’s coordination, strategies, policies, programs, and budgetary actions surrounding public safety.