Meet Loretta

Loretta's BiographyCongresswoman and U.S. Senate Candidate Loretta Sanchez is proud to have represented California in the United States Congress for the past 19 years.   Since her first election in 1996, when she defeated long-term incumbent “B-1 Bob” Dornan, she has been defying expectations and racking up electoral successes.   Her district in Orange County includes the cities of Anaheim, Santa Ana, Orange and Garden Grove.   She knows how to win tough elections.

Congresswoman Sanchez holds senior positions on the House Armed Services Committee and the House Homeland Security Committee.   She is a member of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus and serves as co-chair of the Immigration Task Force.   As the second highest-ranking Democrat on the House Armed Services Committee,  Congresswoman Sanchez is a recognized leader on military and security issues.   She currently serves as the ranking member of the Tactical Air and Land Forces Subcommittee, where she works to prepare our Armed Forces for a new generation of security challenges.   She is also a member of the Subcommittee on Strategic Forces, making sure our nation is appropriately prepared for any missile or nuclear attacks.   As the founder and co-chair of the Women in the Military Caucus, Congresswoman Sanchez advocates for female service members to serve in combat roles and fights to stamp out sexual assault in the armed forces.  She successfully passed a long-shot bill that updated the sexual assault provisions in the Uniform Code of Military Justice, as well as a bill to create a sexual assault database.

Congresswoman Sanchez has also served on the House Homeland Security Committee since its inception after the 9/11 attacks and is now the committee’s second ranking Democrat.  She serves on the Subcommittee on Border and Maritime Security, focusing on keeping our land and sea borders safe and secure, as well as the Subcommittee on Cybersecurity, Infrastructure and Security Technologies.   On the Homeland Security Committee, Congresswoman Sanchez addresses issues ranging from immigration reform to human trafficking to oversight of surveillance programs.

Congresswoman Sanchez courageously voted against the Iraq War and the bailout for the big banks. These votes look better every day.

In addition to her committee work, Congresswoman Sanchez is a strong voice for California in Congress.  She is often referred to as the People’s Representative, since she stays well-connected by traveling back to California nearly every weekend to visit schools and businesses and meet with residents.  She works tirelessly to facilitate job creation, rebuild our crumbling educational and transportation infrastructures, reduce crime, support quality educational opportunities and increase affordable health care for everyone.

A product of public schools and Head Start, Sanchez is a graduate of Chapman University and American University’s MBA program.  Prior to serving in Congress, Sanchez worked in the financial markets with firms including Booz Allen Hamilton and Fieldman Rolapp.

Loretta Sanchez was born in Lynwood, California and graduated from Katella High School in Anaheim in 1978.  Her father was a union machinist and her mother worked as a secretary.  Loretta joined the United Food and Commercial Workers International Union when she worked as an ice cream server in high school, and received union scholarships to college and a Rotary scholarship to pursue an MBA.

U.S. Senate Candidate Loretta Sanchez Credits ‘Head Start’ for her SuccessBy Johanna Saleska

In July of 1965, just after the launch of a new government education program for low-income children called “Project Head Start,” a small-town newspaper in El Monte, California featured a grainy photograph of one local Head Start attendee. It was Loretta Sanchez. In the photo, then five-year-old Sanchez wears a concentrated expression along with a pair of thick-wired earphones while her teacher and mother, both smiling, look on.

In the 50 years since that photograph was taken, Rep. Loretta Sanchez of California’s 46th congressional district has come a long way. Sanchez still credits Project Head Start for her success in the Orange County Public school system, which led to a degree in economics from Chapman, an MBA from American University, a successful career as a financial analyst, and, eventually, a position in the U.S. Congress.  Now, Sanchez has her eyes set on the Senate seat that will open up when Barbara Boxer retires next year.

Born in Lynwood, California to Mexican immigrant parents, Sanchez describes her childhood self as “voiceless.” She was so quiet that her concerned grandmother hauled her off to doctors’ offices more than once to see if she might be deaf or mute.

When Sanchez was five, her mother, Maria, came across a newspaper article announcing the start of a program for disadvantaged children called Head Start. “Necesitas este programa,” she said to young Sanchez. “You need this program.” Maria marched down to Anne Legore Elementary in El Monte, where the family lived at the time, and immediately signed her daughter up.

Designed as part of Lyndon B. Johnson’s 1964 War on Poverty, Project Head Start began in 1965 as an eight-week summer program developed by a group of child specialists, including sociologists, psychologists and pediatricians. The program was created specifically for children from low-income communities as a way of addressing the achievement gap between lower-class students and their middle-class peers. In addition to preschool classes, Project Head Start provided medical care, dental care, and mental health services. Thanks to her mother, Sanchez became one of 560,000 children to take part in the program that inaugural summer.

Sanchez notes that Head Start did much more than prepare her for academic success in public school. The program provided her and her peers with healthy snacks, tested her hearing and vision, and taught her to socialize with other children.

Head Start altered the lives of Sanchez’s mother and six siblings as well. In a recent TEDx talk, Sanchez remarked that the program taught her mother how to be an advocate for her seven children in the United States’ school system. According to Sanchez, Head Start parents like her mother learn to read to their children and do so more often, use less physical discipline, and are more likely to seek out educational opportunities for themselves. This was most certainly the case for Maria Sanchez, who, after raising seven kids, went on the get her GED, BA, and teaching credential. She taught in Orange County public schools for 17 years, where she continued to act as an advocate for disadvantaged children.
Moreover, Sanchez’s younger sister, Linda, represents California’s 38th congressional district, making them the first and only set of sisters in the history of the United States to serve in Congress.

Like the Sanchez family, Project Head Start has come a long way since the summer of 1965. Today, Head Start stands as one of the longest-running programs in place to fight systemic poverty in the United States. In fact for every dollar spent, our community benefits over time as much as nine dollars. Head Start has touched the lives of millions of low-income children and their families, providing them with educational, social, and health support.

A “voiceless” child herself, Sanchez remains a staunch supporter of Head Start and similar early education programs. According to the LA Times, in one congressional debate regarding Head Start’s effectiveness, Sanchez said, “I know about these kids, because I am one of those kids … we are very successful.”

Successful indeed. Barbara Boxer’s upcoming retirement will leave a Senate seat open in the California election for the first time in 24 years, and Sanchez is a strong contender. Once a voiceless child, Loretta has found her voice in congress for over 19 years. At her recent senate announcement, Sanchez stated: “I’m running to give a voice to every Californian of every background.” Regardless of the election outcome, one thing remains clear. California may have never known the name Loretta Sanchez had her mother not signed her up for that eight-week program back in the summer of 1965.

Johanna Saleska is a writing tutor and adjunct writing instructor at Concordia University, Irvine. She graduated Summa Cum Laude from Concordia in 2012 with a degree in English, after which she earned her MA in Rhetoric and Composition from the University of Missouri, Columbia. She has written and edited for Concordia Publishing House and The Missouri Review, among others.