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David Grabill

The Sonoma County Democratic Party honored In Memoriam David Grabill with the Trowbridge Lifetime Achievement Award in 2017.

David Grabill

Photograph courtesy of Dorothy Battenfield

Mr. Grabill was a fierce advocate for more local affordable housing development and disadvantaged members of our community passed away June 9, 2016 at the age of 74.

Many of us interacted with him throughout the years in the various capacities he served including co-founding the Sonoma County Housing Advocacy Group, serving on the Executive Board of the Accountable Development Coalition from 2005-2010, and served on the Board of Directors for the Sonoma County Chapter of the ACLU from 1996-2003.

His career in law and social justice advocacy began with a B.A. in Political Science at Yale University which led to a J.D. from the University of Pennsylvania School of Law.  Representing victims of housing discrimination had Mr. Grabill practicing law several jurisdictions including District of Columbia, California, Indiana, West Virginia, and the Ogallala Sioux Tribe. Many of his cases led to major policy changes to better support the interests of disadvantaged communities. For instance, in West Virginia, Mr. Grabill led the lawsuit that overturned that state’s unconstitutional ban on abortion, allowing the state’s first women’s health center to open and provide safe and legal abortion services. Locally in 1989, the case Sonoma County Housing Now v. City of Healdsburg resulted in the zoning for 500 new apartments and updated policies encouraging affordable housing development.

David Grabill was a generous person who gave of himself to advocate for those less fortunate. He challenged us to do better and in his memory we shall strive to do so.