Marin County would be a starkly different community had Wanden Treanor not dedicated herself to social justice issues — as an attorney, community activist, volunteer, and donor. Wanden has an internal compass for equality and justice that never wavers and she has contributed to our community and those most in need in Marin for more than 30 years.
Wanden is a first-generation American who grew up in Marin. Her father emigrated from Ireland as did both of her maternal grandparents. In her early teens, her father introduced her to a quadriplegic who was one of his patients. At a young age, Wanden experienced how fortunate she was to be able-bodied and how hard one must struggle to succeed with disabilities. Together they went to Anti-Vietnam War demonstrations and rock concerts in Golden Gate Park and worked to advance awareness of prejudices, particularly against people with disabilities. Wanden believes she would be a very different woman today but for the influences of this courageous woman at a critical time in her life.
Wanden attended Dominican Convent and later at San Domenico School from kindergarten through high school where she was taught by the Dominican Sisters, who instilled values of equality and justice for all. She blossomed in that all-girl environment where she says she was imbued with self-esteem. Wanden was student body president, swim team captain and developed a deep understanding of her responsibility to be of service to make sure there is equality for all. In 2008 Wanden received San Domenico’s Distinguished Alumna Award.
Before going to law school, Wanden served as a community organizer in the V.I.S.T.A. (Volunteer in Service to America) program. She was assigned to a nonprofit in Northern California to work to increase low income housing through cooperatives and a self-help housing program.
Wanden credits her VISTA training in helping her be a successful attorney counseling boards of directors for common interest developments. She helps board members understand the importance of solving community problems within the community, staying out of the courts, and encourages the use of dispute resolution techniques to solve rather than escalate community issues. She has been appointed by Superior Courts of California to act as a receiver and has qualified as an expert witness in matters concerning the standard of care of boards of directors of Common Interest Developments. Wanden has also been a leader in the legal community having served as president of the Marin County Women Lawyers and the Marin County Bar Association.
Wanden became involved with nonprofits focused on helping low income members of our community not long after starting out in a small San Rafael law firm specializing in real property law. She began volunteering on a monthly basis to provide legal services at the Marin YWCA Legal Clinic, joined the Board of Directors of Marin Legal Aid and ever since has tirelessly given of her time, talent and treasure to create a more fair and just society through these and other nonprofit organizations.
Some of her contributions to local non-profits include:
Legal Aid of Marin: Wanden served as President of Legal Aid of Marin during a tumultuous time. Due to Federal budget cuts, the Legal Services Corporation was reorganized, eliminating numerous local offices, including Marin County. As a result, individual representation of low income residents needing legal services would have been eliminated. Under Wanden’s leadership and after thoughtful and strategic discussions, the Board voted to continue as an independent legal services provider. Over two decades later, low income and senior residents continue to receive legal services from Legal Aid of Marin.
Triangle Alliance of Marin (TAM) PAC: In an era where there was open hostility and discrimination around sexual orientation, Wanden was one of a few community leaders who saw the need for a Political Action Committee (PAC) focused on increasing the number of lesbians & gays in Marin to run for elected office. TAM’s mission was to provide political training and awareness to encourage LGBT members to run for political offices. Wanden was the first openly gay person elected to office in Marin. Today there are several members of the LGBT community serving in elected offices in Marin.
College of Marin: Wanden’s commitment to the college stems from her belief that COM is a place where lives change, particularly for those with less opportunity. As a trustee, Wanden leads the charge to ensure that services are provided for all students to succeed, especially those for whom English is not their first language, and she has been the primary board champion for the Early Childhood Education program. With impressive energy and commitment she co-chaired the first successful county-wide facilities bond measure in 2004. Wanden also provided leadership in the successful June 2016 facilities bond measure. Both measures have and will profoundly change both campuses with improved classrooms, labs and instructional equipment, directly enhancing the learning capabilities of every student.
Planned Parenthood: Wanden’s involvement with Planned Parenthood is grounded in a strong belief that every woman should have the right to make all of her health care decisions. She provided pro bono legal services to negotiate contracts for a soon-to-be-built Planned Parenthood building at 2H Street, San Rafael and ultimately joined the Planned Parenthood of Marin, Sonoma and Mendocino (PPMSM) board of directors and served as its last president. At that time, PPMSM was under crushing economic pressures to close clinics. Wanden successfully led the board and the donor community to embrace the need to create a larger affiliate that would be more able to withstand the economic pressures. The 2 H clinic is still open providing health care services to many who otherwise might not receive reproductive and health care services.
In talking with others who have served with Wanden, they say she consistently serves as the “conscience of the board”. She has a perseverance to do the right thing and the leadership to inspire others to make the difficult but ultimately best decisions for the greater good. This was demonstrated in her work with Legal Aid of Marin, Planned Parenthood, 10,000 Degrees, and the Marin County Bar Association. The President and CEO of 10,000 Degrees credits Wanden with redirecting the focus of the organization in ways that help those students who have the greatest need and will benefit the most from an opportunity for a college education. Wanden’s leadership on that board and as the recipient of 10,000 Degree’s “Pay it Forward” award, show she played a critical role in fulfilling the dreams of thousands of students, many the first in their family to go to college, which empowers the entire family. She does this work, not as her vocation, but as her avocation.
When she is not working in her law office or devoting time to the larger community issues, Wanden enjoys sailing, kayaking and struggling to succeed at stand up paddle boarding, as well as being out in the woods camping or backpacking. After a 32 year courtship, she and Judge Faye D’Opal (a 2000 MWHOF Honoree) married and continue to work together for justice for all. They also enjoy time with their daughters and grandchildren.