|5th Executive Director, White House Initiative on Educational Excellence for Hispanic Americans|
May 29, 2001 – June 25, 2003
|President||George W. Bush|
|Preceded by||Sarita E. Brown|
|Succeeded by||Adam Chavarria|
Corpus Christi, Texas
Leslie Sanchez (born 1971) is an American author, political pundit affiliated with the Republican Party, and founder/CEO of Impacto Group LLC, a Washington, D.C.-based market research and consulting firm.
Sanchez was born in Corpus Christi, Texas. She is a third-generation Mexican-American: her grandfather came to the United States from Mexico in the early 20th century. The family lived comfortably until Sanchez was 15 years old when her parents divorced. Sanchez moved with her mother to a one-bedroom apartment in Sugar Land, a suburb in the Houston metropolitan area where she joined the "working poor," getting a job during high school to support her mother and grandmother.
After high school, Sanchez went to work selling Collier's encyclopedias door to door in order to work her way through college. In four years, she travelled through 1,000 counties in 23 states. Sanchez was an accomplished salesperson, eventually rising through the ranks to field manager and making enough money to provide for her family as well as college. Sanchez attended George Washington University, graduating in 1997 with a journalism degree.
Sanchez's political work began in the 1990s. While a student at GWU, she volunteered in several campaigns, garnering significant grassroots experience. During this time, Sanchez went to work in the office of Rep. Henry Bonilla, R-TX, as a legislative assistant on appropriations. She also worked on border issues and immigration legislation. After college, Sanchez held a number of public relations and marketing positions in the Capitol and worked with the staff of House Speaker Dennis Hastert.
In 1999, Sanchez became a deputy press secretary for the Republican National Committee were she developed communication strategies for the Hispanic market and served as the Committee's chief spokesperson to the Hispanic community. The results were tangible: "Until Leslie Sanchez, the Republican Party wasn't talking to Univision," according to one colleague. The following year, she was tapped by the 2000 Bush presidential campaign to work on Hispanic outreach. Together with V. Lance Tarrance, Jr., a prominent Republican pollster, Sanchez was a principal architect for two, "watershed Hispanic surveys," recognized at the time as the most thorough, all-encompassing political and cultural survey taken of Hispanic voters by any political party.
Additionally, Sanchez helped to create a multi-million dollar RNC marketing campaign aimed toward the Hispanic market in key states during the 2000 election cycle, a program widely credited as contributing to Bush receiving 37 percent of the Hispanic vote, the most by any Republican presidential candidate to that time. In 2001, outgoing RNC chairman Jim Nicholson praised Sanchez, at the time the Committee's Hispanic-voter liaison director, for her key role in that effort.
On May 29, 2001, President George W. Bush appointed Sanchez executive director of the White House Initiative on Educational Excellence for Hispanic Americans. Created in 1990 by President George H. W. Bush, the program's mission is to provide advice and guidance to the Secretary of Education on educational issues related to Hispanics and means to address academic excellence and opportunities to the Hispanic community. In her capacity as director, Sanchez "monitored and evaluated Hispanic participation in education programs in 29 federal departments and agencies." Moreover, she created for her office a grassroots alliance of 20,000 students, parents, and educators nationwide, and assembled a strategic coalition of 30 Fortune 500 companies, financial institutions, and government agencies.
Also in 2001, Sanchez was named one of the "100 Most Influential Hispanics" by Hispanic Business and was selected for the 4th Annual Young Hispanic Leaders Program where she earned a diploma at the Universidad Internacional Menéndez Pelayo in Santander, Spain. Around this time, she entered the MBA program at Johns Hopkins University's School of Professional Studies in Business and Education (now extant).
On June 25, 2003, Sanchez resigned her White House Initiative position to form her own consulting firm, Impacto Group, LLC, the "first Republican political strategy and research group aimed solely at the U.S. Hispanic marketplace." Pollster Tarrance joined her as head of research and development for Impacto Strategies, a division of the Group, and chairman of its board of advisors. Impacto also deals with social and economic issues related to women.
Consultant and commentator
Leslie Sanchez at CPAC in February 2010
Corpus Christi, Texas, USA
|Education||Johns Hopkins University|
|Occupation||political consultant, political commentator|
|Leslie Sanchez, Impacto Group, LLC|
At Impacto, Sanchez quickly racked up an impressive list of clients, including Cisco Systems and Prudential Financial. Impacto's analytical work has also impressed political watchers. In 2004, the Independent Women's Forum commissioned a psycholinguistic survey of Hispanic and Caucasian female voters that is considered seminal in the field.
While primarily engaged in consulting, Sanchez appears frequently on television as a political commentator. Since founding Impacto, she has made numerous appearances on various political shows including CNN's The Situation Room, Fox News Channel's O'Reilly Factor, and PBS's The McLaughlin Group, To the Contrary, and The News Hour with Jim Lehrer. In addition to being a regular commentator on Fox and CNN, Sanchez also appears frequently on MSNBC, Telemundo, and Univision.
Sanchez has been sought after for several election-related projects. In 2004 and 2006, respectively, she worked for the BBC in their coverage of the presidential and congressional elections. In 2008, she served as a political contributor for CNN's election coverage series. The following year, the network was awarded the distinguished Peabody Award for its reporting on the 2008 presidential campaign. Sanchez's commentary is featured in the PBS documentary Latinos 08 which examines the presidential election through the prism of ethnic politics.
Sanchez has written a significant number of editorials, opinion pieces, and other articles for such publications as the Wall Street Journal, New York Times, Washington Post, and US News & World Report, as well as two books. Her first, Los Republicanos: Why Republicans and Hispanics Need Each Other, was published in 2007. In it, Sanchez makes the argument that since most Hispanics share core beliefs with the Republican Party (GOP) and represent the fastest growing minority, then they can and should play an integral role in forming a conservative majority. The book has been cited by one reviewer as "a proto-type analysis that can be applied to other minority groups in America." Sanchez's second book, You've Come a Long Way, Maybe: Michelle, Sarah, Hillary and the Shaping of the New American Woman, was released in October 2009 by Palgrave Macmillan, a division of St Martin's Press.
In recent years, Sanchez has been increasingly critical of what she sees as the GOP's patronizing attempts in courting Hispanics, especially since the 2008 elections. Calling the immigration debate, "Prop. 187 on steroids," Sanchez warns that "Republicans embrace anti-immigrant fervor at their own peril." Instead, she argues that the Party should re-adopt the successful strategies employed by Presidents Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush, who appealed to Hispanics, she opines, "not as Hispanics or immigrants but as Americans with an equal stake in the future of the country."
The Apprentice: Martha Stewart
In 2005, Sanchez was one of 16 candidates on The Apprentice: Martha Stewart. Already considered a "Latina Martha Stewart" by close associates, she had been encouraged to try out as soon as the show's existence had become known. Sanchez finally relented when she was invited to audition by the GWU Alumni Association. She lasted for 10 of 13 weeks in the competition before finally being ejected.
Despite what some have considered a particularly severe dismissal (Stewart told her that she would rather hire the "doer rather than the talker"), Sanchez preferred in a later interview to focus on Stewart's complimentary remarks regarding her marketing and communication skills. Her appearance on The Apprentice apparently boosted Sanchez's business as well as her fan following.
Sanchez currently resides in Alexandria, Virginia, with her husband and dog, Jalapeña. She has no children.
Among her many activities and honors, past and present, are the following:
- Co-director of the Congressional Border Caucus
- Member, U.S.-Spain Council for the Young Hispanic Leaders Program
- Ex-officio member of the President's Task Force on Puerto Rico's Status
- Hispanic Business magazine's "100 Most Influential Hispanics"
- Member, Women's Business Enterprise National Council
- Board of Directors, Providence Health Foundation
- John Hopkins Alumni Association
- The George Washington University Alumni Association
- National Society of Hispanic MBAs
- Visiting Fellow, Independent Women's Forum
- Texas Federation of Republican Women
- Latin Chamber of Commerce
- Albuquerque Hispano Chamber of Commerce
- American Cancer Society Relay for Life
- "About Leslie: Strategist," Leslie Sanchez.com. Accessed on October 4, 2009.
- "Speaker Biographies: Seventh Annual National Hispanic Medical Association Conference," Kaisernetwork.org (March 21, 2003): 8-9.
- "On Board with Leslie Sanchez," PODER (July/August 2006): 78-79.
- Lew Diuguid, "Leslie Sanchez, SPSBE '02 (MBA): Taking a Chance, Martha-Style," Johns Hopkins Magazine (February 2006).
- US Department of Education, "Paige Names Directors Of Two White House Initiatives: Leadership Of Faith-Based And Community And Hispanic Education Initiatives Offices," (press release) ED.gov (May 29, 2001).
- About Leslie (Biography), LeslieSanchez.com. Accessed on June 29, 2009.
- Bree Hocking, "From Republican Insider to Martha Stewart Confidant?" Roll Call (September 13, 2005). Via LeslieSanchez.com.
- "Bush Hispanic Communications Pro Opens Own Company;...," U.S. Newswire (June 25, 2003).
- Ralph Z. Hallow, "Bush aide at RNC meeting to map re-election strategy," The Washington Times (January 18, 2001).
- "Leadership of Faith-Based and Community and Hispanic Initiative Offices Announced," U.S. Newswire (May 29, 2001).
- Teresa Talerico, "The 100 Most Influential Hispanics," Hispanic Business (October 2001).
- "Most Influential Hispanics, 2001: Leslie Sanchez'" Hispanic Business (2001). Accessed on June 29, 2009.
- White House Initiative on Educational Excellence for Hispanic Americans, "Leslie Sanchez, Executive Director...," Who We Are (archived). Accessed on August 18, 2009.
- "CNN Earns Prestigious Peabody Award for Political Coverage" (press release), TimeWarner.com (April 1, 2009).
- Public Broadcasting System, "Interviewees," Latinos 08, produced and directed by Phillip Rodriguez (2008). Accessed on June 29, 2009.
- Grace Vuoto, "Conservatives and Hispanics: a natural and vital alliance(Los Republicanos: Why Hispanics and Republicans Need Each Other)(Book review)," World & I (June 1, 2008). Via Highbeam Research.
- Grace Vuoto, "Hispanics and the GOP; Mutual interests abound," Washington Times (November 9, 2007).
- Ruth Marcus, "The GOP Walks a Border Tightrope," Washington Post (March 29, 2006).
- Leslie Sanchez, "Virginia's Message to the GOP," Washington Post (November 19, 2005).
- Leslie Sanchez, "Commentary: Republicans, don't patronize Hispanics," CNN.com (January 29, 2009).
- Steve Rogers, "NBC reveals the identities of its 'The Apprentice: Martha Stewart' contestants," Reality TV World.com August 19, 2005.
- Impacto Group, LLC
- Leslie Sanchez's CNN Blog
- Los Republicanos: Why Republicans and Hispanics Need Each Other
- White House Initiative on Educational Excellence for Hispanic Americans
Sarita E. Brown
|Executive Director, White House Initiative