From left: Joan Baez; Arlene Blum; Belva Davis; Thomas Keller; First Lady Anne Gust Brown; Gov. Jerry Brown; Brianna Lee, Anita Lee and Tania Lee (representing Ed Lee); Bill McFadden (representing Nancy McFadden); Robert Redford; and Fernando Valenzuela. (Photo by Joe McHugh, California Highway Patrol)

SACRAMENTO – Gov. Jerry Brown and First Lady Anne Gust Brown joined the California Museum to award the Spirit of California medal to eight Californians inducted into the 12th class of the California Hall of Fame on Dec. 4.

The inductees of the California Hall of Fame 12th class are: musician Joan Baez; mountaineer and scientist Arlene Blum; journalist Belva Davis; chef Thomas Keller; former San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee; public servant Nancy McFadden; Hollywood icon and environmentalist Robert Redford; and former Los Angeles Dodgers pitcher Fernando Valenzuela.

“We are honoring people who did their utmost and exceeded the ordinary,” said Brown. “Whatever you folks have done, don’t stop now, keep going – and I say the same thing about California.”

Inductees and family members of posthumous inductees received the Spirit of California medal from the governor and first lady in the official state ceremony at the California Museum. In addition to the ceremony, inductees were commemorated with an exhibition of artifacts highlighting their lives and achievements, which opened to the public on Dec. 5 at the museum.

This year’s recipients join 113 inspirational Californians previously inducted for making remarkable achievements across a variety of California industries and areas of influence, including science, philanthropy, sports, business, entertainment, the arts, literature, technology, activism and politics.

Past honorees include actor/activist George Takei, the late martial arts legend Bruce Lee, Olympic gold medalist Kristi Yamaguchi, author Amy Tan, pro golfer Tiger Woods, and AIDS researcher David Ho.

For more information on the California Hall of Fame, visit

About Ed Lee

Ed Lee (1952-2017) dedicated his entire career to San Francisco and served as mayor from 2011 to 2017.

Ed Lee

San Francisco’s first Asian American mayor, Lee presided over the greatest economic recovery and investment in housing in the city’s history. Born in Seattle to Chinese immigrant parents and raised in public housing, he came to California to pursue his education, graduating from UC Berkeley School of Law in 1978. He started his career as a civil rights attorney, championing immigrants and low-income tenants. In 1991, he became director of the San Francisco Human Rights Commission and went on to serve two decades in city government as purchasing manager, public works director and ultimately city administrator.

In January 2011, Lee accepted an interim appointment as San Francisco’s mayor when former Mayor Gavin Newsom was elected lieutenant governor. With ardent support from the Chinese American community and civic leaders across the city, he successfully ran for a full term in November 2011, and in 2015 was re-elected with only token opposition. As mayor, he helped spur tremendous economic growth, revitalizing the Mid-Market district and investing heavily in small business and neighborhood commercial corridors. A new arena that will bring the Golden State Warriors back to San Francisco was another achievement.

While backing the businesses that fueled the city’s booming economy, Lee never forgot the less fortunate, focusing on raising the minimum wage, creating affordable housing and helping the homeless. Lee’s true passion as mayor was building affordable housing: creating the largest affordable housing fund in San Francisco history, completely transforming of all of San Francisco’s 3,500 units of public housing, and spurring housing development in all neighborhoods.

At the time of his unexpected passing on Dec. 12 last year, he was opening support shelters and had created a dedicated department to centralize the city’s efforts in its fight against homelessness. Lee also is remembered for standing shoulder-to-shoulder with San Francisco’s immigrant communities in defense of the sanctuary city policy and for pursuing innovative environmental policies that led to a 28 percent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions in the city during his tenure.

He was represented at the ceremony by his wife Anita and daughters Brianna and Tania.

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