by Teresa R Williamson

You’ve heard about women like Victoria. You know, the ones who light up a room with their smile, the ones who – with ease – speak to a crowd of hundreds with graceful charm, and just when you’ve been awed by her kindness and enthusiasm, you find out she is also a lawyer who happened to meet her husband while she was at Princeton. And, in her spare time she has found the time and energy to chair one of the most spectacular fundraising fashion shows in San Francisco – the Junior League of San Francisco’s annual Fashion Show fundraiser.  When I meet women like Victoria, I know that everything is possible and the world is a better place because of her.

March 14, 2009, marked the Junior League of San Francisco’s 83rd Annual Fashion Show, and the fiftieth anniversary of the Fashion Show’s partnership with the Fairmont Hotel. The 2009 Fashion Show was produced in partnership with Macy’s and was led by Chairwoman, Victoria Yeager Sawyer, who brings an impressive resume and skill set, tireless energy and infectious enthusiasm to this venerable fundraiser.

Victoria first became involved in the Junior League ten years ago when she joined the Junior League of Washington while attending law school at Georgetown University. “Volunteering in the community has always been important to me, and the League attracted me because it provided an organized way for me to get out of the library and into the community to make a difference.” She maintained her association with the Junior League while in Honolulu, where she spent her first year out of law school clerking for a federal judge, and then joined the JLSF upon her return to her native Bay Area.

Victoria has great respect for the women who continue to give their time and their energy to making the JLSF Fashion Show one of the oldest and most successful continuous fundraisers in San Francisco. “I am honored and excited to lead the 2009 Fashion Show and am incredibly grateful to the Fashion Show Committee – I couldn’t do it without them!”

Victoria believes strongly in the mission and spirit of the Junior League, and is proud of the Fashion Show’s contribution. “I see the Fashion Show as a critical platform to reach a broad audience of civic-minded Bay Area residents and businesses, and to communicate to them the vital work the League does in the community and the impact of their donations. The League’s work is increasingly important in these challenging economic times, and the League’s mission—to Support and Strengthen Families in Need—could not be more timely.”

Before law school, Victoria attended Princeton, where she met her husband, Adrian Sawyer, a native San Franciscan. The two live in San Francisco, and Victoria is a transactional attorney with Genentech. For many years, Victoria was an avid dressage rider, and she now likes to spend her free time attending the Opera with Adrian, enjoying Crissy Field with their Rhodesian Ridgeback, Henley, or hitting the slopes in Colorado and Tahoe.


1. What was the best decision you made in your life?

Not to play too hard to get when I met my now husband.

2. What is your most memorable travel moment?

Watching the sunrise from the top of Mount Sinai in Egypt.  One moment everything was pitch black and the stars were so close and bright and then moments later everything was glowing bright red and shadowy and then once the sun emerged you could finally see the gray, desolate mountain scape around you.

3. Why did you choose the Junior League as your charity of choice?

I was in law school when I joined, so I had limited time. I liked that it was an organized, established women’s organization with members of all ages – I could dedicate a few focused hours as my schedule permitted and still make a difference. I liked that the Junior League not only gave money and volunteer hours to critical community programs, but also viewed itself as a training organization – it invests in its own members and trains them to become effective leaders of change.

4. What have you learned about yourself through volunteering?

I have learned that if you are enthusiastic about your cause, your enthusiasm will inspire others to give.

5. What moment in your life did you feel the most alive?

I cannot name just one – sometimes there are just moments when I feel so incredibly alive – it could be inspired by an ordinary activity like driving with my sunroof open while a favorite song is playing on the radio, or it could be inspired by an unique activity like swimming in the ocean off Lanai with a pod of spinner dolphins.

6. If money and time were no object, where on earth would you go?


7. Who is your hero?

My hero is anyone who wants to help others and has an optimistic attitude.

8. What is your favorite place to dine in your hometown of San Francisco?

San Francisco has so many great restaurants!  Two of my favorites are Michael Mina and Spruce.

9. What do you do on the weekends?

My favorite thing to do on weekends is spend time with my husband, our dog and friends and family.  It’s terribly unoriginal, but one thing I really like to do on the weekends is see a movie in the theatre — buttered movie popcorn and a giant soda are the best!
10. And finally a word from our Featured Diva—give us a stirring, Diva-worthy battle cry for women everywhere to hear!

More images from the Junior League of San Francisco’s 83rd Annual Fashion Show.