Social Justice & Community


Wiggsy Sivertsen has been fighting for LGBTQ equality, against injustice, and battling discrimination in an around Santa Clara County for more than half a century. Her career as an activist and community leader began after she was outed and fired while working as a counselor at the Peninsula Children’s Center in Palo Alto. This traumatizing event encouraged her to become involved with community organizing. Sivertsen had already been working part-time at San José State’s counseling center, so she was able to join the university’s staff full time in 1968. Sivertsen was San José State’s first openly gay employee. Beginning in 1977, as a professor and counselor at San José State University, Sivertsen campaigned against ROTC programs on campus because of the Defense Department’s discriminatory policies toward lesbians and gays. She was also the faculty advisor to the Gay and Lesbian Alliance and the Women’s Center. In these roles she counseled hundreds of students in their process of coming out. In the 1980s, Sivertsen and Ken Yeager founded Bay Area Municipal Elections Committee (BAYMEC) that focuses on LGBTQ political action in Santa Clara, San Mateo, and Santa Cruz Counties. In 1994, San José State University established a scholarship in her name that supports students who are advancing LGBTQ rights.

Honoree Photo Credit: Ted Sahl Archives, San José State University Special Collections & Archives,


Kathy Aoki