Santa Monica’s Organization of Women Leaders honors Jennifer Garner and Bettina Duval

By Christina Campodonico

Jennifer Garner and Bettina Duval Photo By Christina Campodonico

Jennifer Garner and Bettina Duval
Photo By Christina Campodonico

The Santa Monica Chamber of Commerce’s Organization of Women Leaders honored actress Jennifer Garner and political strategist Bettina Duval on Monday during the group’s 2016 International Women’s Day Breakfast at the Le Meridien Delfina Hotel.

Addressing a conference room packed with businesswomen and professionals, Garner and Duval each spoke about the importance of helping other women and how their mothers influenced their lives.

Duval, who last week spoke with The Argonaut about her work to elect dozens of women to state office through the political action committee CaliforniaLIST, recalled two experiences that inspired her to work for equal representation of women in government: being raised by a single working mom and seeing only two women on the California Senate floor when she was a legislative intern in the 1970s.

“Moments like these are incredibly valuable,” Duval, a mother of four, said of events such as the International Women’s Day Breakfast being crucial for building women’s visibility in the world.

Garner, an advocate for early childhood education with Save the Children, spoke about the influence of her mother, Patricia, on her philanthropic work.

“I come from a family of fierce women: Two sisters and a pretty hardcore mom, a mom who was brought up on love and on her family’s Dust Bowl, Depression beaten-down farm. She raised my sisters and me with more idioms and rules than Ma Ingalls,” said Garner, who went on to quote some of her mom’s favorite sayings in the vein of “Little House on the Prairie” matriarch Caroline Ingalls.

Garner, a mother of three, recounted her mother’s life of “incredible service” as someone who always reached out to those in need, sharing how her mother would invite strangers with nowhere to go over to the house for Easter dinner.

“Mom doesn’t just call for help when someone is stranded by the side of the road, she brings them home to dinner and seats them at the head of the table,” said Garner.

Years later her mother’s acts of kindness form the foundation for her own work with Save the Children, which has included addressing Congress about early childhood development.

“The more you see what [parents and children] endure just to get by day-by-day, the more compelled you are to work and to push and to try in a small way to make their lives better,” Garner told The Argonaut.

With a parting pearl of her mother’s wisdom, Garner encouraged women in attendance to look out for one another.

“You don’t have to live in Hollywood to serve other women,” she said. “You certainly don’t need to be an actor or even start an incredible PAC to be of service because, as my mom always says, ‘A man’s got to do what a man’s got to do. A woman’s got to do what he can’t.’”