Seattle Reign FC Legend: Anne Levinson

Prior to Saturday night’s match against the Boston Breakers, Reign FC recognized Anne Levinson as a Seattle Reign FC Legend, celebrating a lifetime of work fighting for equality for women.

Levinson has been fighting for women’s rights her entire life, from junior high all the way to the Seattle Municipal Court. After trying out for the boy’s baseball team in junior high, Levinson would go on to be the only scholarship athlete on the women’s field hockey team at the University of Kansas.

While at the University of Kansas, Levinson filed one of the first Title IX cases in the country, when the University announced it was cutting funding for all women’s sports teams except for basketball.

“The Federal Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights (OCR) selected my complaint to be among the first group of seven Title IX complaints ever investigated because they were the strongest cases with the broadest implications,” said Levinson. “The injustice of the situation compelled me to act. It wasn’t right and a lot of young women were impacted.”

The OCR found the University was acting in a discriminatory manner, and Kansas agreed to implement a new plan to improve their women’s athletics programs. Levinson’s experience with Title IX set her on the path to law school, public service, and social justice work.

Post-graduation, Levinson served as legal counsel, chief of staff, and deputy mayor to Norm Rice, the first African-American Mayor of Seattle. Levinson went on to be just the second woman to chair the Washington Utilities and Transportation Commission. Levinson was then appointed to the Seattle Municipal Court, and became one of the first openly LGBT public officials.

“In my era, guidance counselors did not have ‘professional sports team owner’, deputy mayor, utility commissioner or judge on the list of career paths that they encouraged young women to consider,” said Levinson. “Women and girls should have the opportunity to participate and lead at every level and in every discipline.”

As a judge, Levinson presided over one of the country’s first mental health courts, and launched a middle school for girls.

Levinson’s involvement in sports continued beyond her days at the University of Kansas, as in 2008 she organized a group of local female leaders to buy the Seattle Storm from the Seattle Sonics, saving the team from a move to Oklahoma City.

“It is tremendously important that girls and boys in the Pacific Northwest grow up seeing professional female athletes,” said Levinson. “It’s important that girls see that women today can reach goals that were out of reach in previous generations. These [Reign FC] players stand on the shoulders of so many, and they in turn will open new doors for those who follow.”

The Legends campaign is a partnership between Seattle Reign FC and Chihuly Studio. At each regular season game, Reign FC honors one woman as a Seattle Reign FC Legend in recognition of her extraordinary contributions in our community and beyond. To celebrate the achievements of each Reign FC Legend, Dale Chihuly crafted the Reign Royal Blue Piccolo Venetian, which is symbolically presented to each Seattle Reign FC Legend.