BIOGRAPHICAL AND PROFESSIONAL BACKGROUND
Retired Assemblywoman Lori Saldaña is a native San Diegan. She grew up in Clairemont, and attended Whitman Elementary School, Einstein Jr. High and graduated from Madison High School in 1976. She attended Mesa College before transferring to San Diego State University, where she earned undergraduate and graduate degrees. She currently lives in the North Clairemont home that’s been in her family for 50 years.
Lori and her sisters grew up in a Marine Corps family, living in and visiting many states before their father, Frank Saldaña, retired after 20 years in the Marine Corps and returned to San Diego in 1965.
VOLUNTEER & COMMUNITY ACTIVISM: After graduating from SDSU, Lori volunteered with various environmental organizations. In 1990 she served on the original board of directors for San Diego Earth Day, to help create the EarthFair in Balboa Park- one of the largest free environmental events in the United States. As a member of the San Diego Chapter of the Sierra Club she served as Chapter Chair from 1995-97.
POLICY WORK & APPOINTMENTS: Lori served as a Mayoral and Presidential appointee, working on water quality issues and infrastructure development. In 1992 she was appointed by San Diego Mayor Maureen O’Connor to serve on the Wetlands Advisory Board. From 1999-2003 she was President Clinton’s appointee on the Border Environmental Cooperation Commission (BECC), which has invested billions in water, air quality and transportation infrastructure along the US-Mexico border.
This policy work lead to an interest in political campaigns. Lori volunteered for several candidates before deciding to run for State Assembly in 2004.
POLITICAL CAREER: After a surprising “come from behind” grassroots victory in 2004, Lori was elected to the California Assembly and served three terms, from 2004-2010.
Assemblymember Saldaña served as Speaker pro Tempore, and presided over Assembly floor sessions. She served on the Ethics Committee, to review complaints filed against members of the legislature that were investigated by the Assembly Rules Committee.
Lori’s own family and educational experience influenced much of her legislation: She championed policies to improve educational and housing opportunities to support veterans and military families. She honored Angela Salinas, the first female Commanding Officer of the Marine Corps Recruit Depot-San Diego, as her “Woman of the Year.” She helped increase housing opportunities, and expand home loan programs for veterans in California.
As an educator, Lori understood the challenges facing children in families who often moved during the school year. She authored legislation to expand access to free preschool, and improve counseling and support services for children in military families. She made sure California joined a national compact to improve educational opportunities for students from military families, who often dropped out of school due to lost academic credits as they moved state to state.
This work earned her the “Legislator of the Year” Award from the California Association of County Veterans Service Officers.
LEADERSHIP: Lori was Chair of the Legislative Womens Caucus (2008-2010). She convened hearings on military sexual assault and its impact on women in the military, and after they separated from active duty service.
Lori chaired the Housing and Community Development Committee. She served as a member of Elections and Redistricting, Rules, Veterans Affairs, Judiciary and the Water, Parks & Wildlife Committees and was appointed to the Assembly Ethics Committee, to investigate complaints within the legislature.
PUBLIC SAFETY: Lori authored AB 1934 to improve gun safety and end “Open Carry” in California. She also authored bills on establishing a state-wide hate crimes reporting registry, and increasing penalties for sexual assault.
ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION: During her 6 years in the California Assembly, Lori earned a 100% Lifetime Voting Record from the California League of Conservation Voters. She was named Legislator of the Year by Californians Against Waste for working to reduce toxics in our food, air, and water.
She coauthored AB 32, the California Global Warming Solutions Act- a historic step towards global greenhouse gas reduction. She continued to work on ways to reduce the impacts of climate change via energy efficiency and conservation.
FAMILY: Lori and her three sisters were the first in their family to attend college. Her father, Frank Saldana, was a career Marine (1944-64) and a respected journalist who retired from the San Diego Evening Tribune (1965-1992). Her mother, Virginia Saldana, had an early career in banking, before focussing on raising 4 daughters and enjoying 8 grandchildren.
EDUCATION: Lori earned her BA and MA from San Diego State University and is currently a Professor of Business Information Technology for the San Diego Community College District. She has managed US Department of Labor grants to develop technical/vocational programs for low-income students, and help bridge the digital divide.
Lori has taught at the University of California San Diego, and was a Research Fellow in Environmental Policy at the UCSD Center for US-Mexico Studies; her research article- “From Litigation to Legislation: Challenges to Binational Water Infrastructure Development in the San Diego-Tijuana Border Region” – was accepted for publication in the 2003 Journal of Environment and Development. She has also taught at San Diego State University, and was a Dean of Service Learning at San Diego Mesa College.
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