SANTA BARBARA, Calif. — Santa Barbara County District Attorney Joyce Dudley has developed a close relationship with vice president-elect Kamala Harris over years of professional and personal interactions.
They first met in 2005 at a prosecutors' event in San Francisco when Dudley was a deputy district attorney.
At that event, Dudley also met Harris' mother, Dr. Shyamala Harris.
Dudley said she saw the love and adoration between mother and daughter, and from Shyamala learned heartwarming and charming details about the woman who would eventually become California's first Black Attorney General and then Senator.
What Dudley didn't know at that first meeting with Harris' mother was that Shyamala was a top cancer researcher.
Years later Dudley's husband was suffering from pancreatic cancer and his doctor‘s father Dr. Mark Weinberg worked with Shyamala.
“I believe the work of Doctors Mark and Zev Weinberg along with Dr. Shyamala Harris contributed to my husband having another year of life," Dudley said.
When Dudley's husband was first diagnosed with cancer, then-Attorney General Kamala Harris had contacted her to express her condolences. They continued to communicate during the time she served as Senator and while she was on the presidential campaign trail.
Back in 2015 Harris and Dudley teamed up to file suit against All American Pipeline, which owned the ruptured pipeline that caused the large oil spill at Refugio State Beach.
During her Senate race, Dudley introduced Harris at a Santa Barbara campaign event.
By that time, Shyamala had passed away. In that introduction, Dudley recounted stories learned from Harris' mother when they had met years earlier.
That introduction led Harris to shed tears, embracing Dudley and telling her she had just learned new details about her mother she had never known.
Dudley also said she learned a lesson about the systemic racism facing Black women such as Harris and fellow Los Angeles County District Attorney Jackie Lacey.
Dudley recounted a story Lacey told her about boarding an airliner with her security detail. During the boarding process, a flight attendant looked at Lacey with disdain and asked the guards if she was in their custody.
The story shocked Dudley, but Lacey assured her it was not an unusual circumstance but rather one that she had become accustomed to and one that further inspired her to seek justice for all.
"Black women prosecutors such as Kamala Harris and Jackie Lacey have been extraordinarily successful in law enforcement, in spite of all the hurdles they had to face and and I am in awe," Dudley said.
On January 20th, Harris will become the first female vice-president in our nation’s history.
However, Dudley believes this is only the beginning for her friend.
"She always wanted to be where she is right now,” Dudley concluded. “I have no doubt that she'll be our president one day.”