Jan. 7, 1957 — Jan. 23, 2013
A champion of child nutrition was lost when Phyllis Ann Bramson passed away at her Davis home on Jan. 23, 2013, after nearly two years of battling against ovarian cancer.
Born Jan. 7, 1957, Phyllis’ two passions in life were her work and being a mom to daughter Rachel, now 17. Coming in a close third was politics, the lifeblood of parents George and Judy Bramson, who immersed the family in progressive causes and local Democratic politics after moving to the Sacramento area from New Jersey in 1959.
Phyllis grew up in Fair Oaks, attending local public schools and was a 1975 graduate of Del Campo High School, where her love of student government uncovered a talent for leadership and community involvement.
Early in her career, holding a degree in political science and health policy from the UC Berkeley and a master’s in public policy from Sacramento State University, Phyllis served with distinction in the Office of Legislative Analyst, the office of Willie L. Brown Jr., Speaker of the California State Assembly and the County Supervisors Association of California.
Phyllis retired in 2012 after more than three decades of dedicated service with the state of California where she applied her passion for improving the health and wellness of all Californians, but especially that of our state’s children. As director and assistant superintendent of public instruction for the Nutrition Services Division of the Department of Education for 10 years, Phyllis served with results-oriented leadership, directing 200 staff responsible for administering the state’s school nutrition programs.
Phyllis always looked for ways to serve more students and improve delivery systems. During her tenure the division created successful automated paperless systems ensuring that as many needy preschoolers and students as possible received healthy meals to help them succeed in school. She fought to integrate nutrition into many education programs and her division often partnered with other state agencies to further common goals.
Prior to joining the Dept. of Education, Phyllis held many positions in the state’s Department of Health Services but she most cherished her 12 years as Branch Chief of the Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) Special Supplemental Nutrition Program. She and her staff, working with counties, made huge improvements in delivering healthy food to California’s needy families and in linking the women they served to other essential state and county services. Always willing to share her expertise with anyone who asked, she lent wise counsel as President of the National WIC Association (NWA), Chair of the NWA Funding Committee, and Western Region representative to the NWA Board of Directors.
A staunch Democrat, Phyllis remained engaged in politics and policy until her last months of life, working to pass Proposition 37, which required foods containing GMOs to be labeled. She was a confirmed extrovert and avid reader who loved socializing with friends, cooking for family, debating with her book club and traveling the world.
Phyllis was preceded in death by her parents and leaves behind daughter Rachel Bramson Paul; siblings Carolyn (Richard) and Peter (Robyn) Bramson; niece Jesse Bramson; aunt Nancy Rubin; cousins Faith Fuerst and Steve Messer; and more loving family members and friends. The family gives special thanks to Phyllis’ caregiver, Amy Cashdollar.
In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to the Ovarian Cancer Research Fund; WIC; the George Bramson Memorial Scholarship at CSU Sacramento; or the Alzheimer’s Association, Northern California chapter. A celebration of Phyllis’ life is planned; information will be provided in the near future.