Thursday, June 11, 2009
Attorney and PERB Chair Tiffany Rystrom Dies of Cancer at 66
By a MetNews Staff Writer
Tiffany Rystrom, a 32-year member of the State Bar and chair of the California Public Employment Relations Board, has died following a battle with cancer.
Appointed by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger to the five-member PERB Board in August 2007 and appointed chair in February of this year, Rystrom, 66, died Tuesday at her home in Sausalito.
The PERB Board administers the collective bargaining statutes covering more than 2 million California public sector employees, and rules on challenges to decisions issued by PERB’s general counsel and administrative law judges.
Schwarzenegger said in a statement yesterday that Rystrom “capped a distinguished career by channeling her passion for the law into public service.”
“As a member of the Public Employment Relations Board, and most recently its chair, she raised the bar on quality, integrity and consistency with the law for every decision. I was proud to have her serve in my administration. The prayers of both Maria and I go out to Tiffany’s family and her partner Angela”—a reference to Angela Bradstreet, the state labor commissioner.
Lauded by Kenard
California Supreme Court Justice Joyce Kennard called Rystrom “a gifted attorney of the utmost integrity,” and said “We, her friends, loved her for her loyalty, thoughtfulness, charm, grace, and generosity of spirit, and were awed by her personal courage.”
Rystrom represented the justice 10 years ago after Kennard was stopped by police on suspicion of drunk driving. The case was dropped after test results showed Kennard’s blood alcohol level was within legal limits.
Rystrom was admitted to the State Bar in 1977 after graduating from Golden Gate University School of Law, and began her legal career with a one-year appointment as a judicial clerk to the presiding justice and two other justices of the Fist District Court of Appeal’s Div. One.
She then joined the Marin County District Attorney’s Office as a deputy district attorney, and one year later became deputy attorney counsel in the Office of the California Attorney General. Beginning in the office’s Criminal Division and moving to its Civil Division within one year, Rystrom handled civil rights and personal injury lawsuits against the State of California at both the trial and appellate level.
In 1983, she entered private practice, and her case wins included a seven-figure settlement for residents of a neighborhood being subjected to sulfur pollution from an oil refinery. She also successfully represented former State Controller Kenneth Cory when Sacramento County sought to condemn his home because the nearby county airport could not meet noise abatement standards.
She practiced with Michael Franchetti, a former chief deputy attorney general and state finance director to whom she was married when the firm started. The firm was originally known as Franchetti & Franchetti before becoming Franchetti & Rystrom.
In 2001, Rystrom joined San Francisco-based Carroll, Burdick, McDonough as of counsel, remaining there until her appointment to the PERB.
Born in Rockford, Ill., Rystrom grew up in the Chicago area and spent a year in Atlanta before moving to Sausalito in 1972.
She attended college at the University of Illinois and spent six years in advertising and marketing with the Leo Burnett advertising agency in Chicago before entering the legal field. Rystrom was the second woman in the agency’s history to be appointed to its 125-person account executive department.
She went on to found her own marketing research company in 1971, and after moving to California became the first woman hired in the marketing department of the Clorox Corporation in Oakland.
Outside of work, Rystrom was a licensed pilot and flew her own Piper Warrior, raced her Express 37 sailboat on San Francisco Bay and ran four marathons.
She relished mountain biking—once covering 70 miles in one day in Patagonia at age 64 over an elevation gain from 2,500 to 4,000 feet—and was an avid golfer and member of the Lake Merced Country Club.
“Tiffany was among the most intelligent, iron-willed women I have ever known,” Schwarzenegger’s Chief of Staff Susan Kennedy said.
“In just two years on PERB, [she] left a permanent mark on the board, setting the highest standards for legal analysis, integrity and work ethic. She has left us with a meaningful legacy and will be sorely missed.”
Rystrom is survived by Bradstreet, sister Julie Jordan, brother Jock Rystrom and nephew Erik Rystrom.
Schwarzenegger’s office said a private celebration of Rystrom’s life is planned, and the family has asked that donations be sent to The John Chan MD Fund for Ovarian Cancer Innovative Research.
Copyright 2009, Metropolitan News Company