Catherine Sandoval

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Catherine Sandoval
East Los Angeles, California, USA
Other namesCatherine Janet Kissee-Sandoval
Catherine J.K. Sandoval
Cathy Kissee-Sandoval
EducationLaw degree, Master of Letters
Alma materYale University,
Oxford University,
Stanford Law School
OccupationCommissioner, law professor
EmployerSanta Clara University School of Law,
California Public Utilities Commission

Catherine J.K. Sandoval is the first Hispanic commissioner of the California Public Utilities Commission. Sandoval is a professor at Santa Clara University School of Law. In 1984, she was the first Latina Rhodes scholar.

Early life[edit]

Sandoval was born in Los Angeles, California, to Vernon Kissee, a court reporter from Missouri, and Helen Sandoval; a woman born and raised in Arizona. Her maternal grandfather was born in Guanajuato, Mexico. Along with an older and a younger sister, Sandoval was brought up in Boyle Heights, Los Angeles.[1][2]

In a Los Angeles Times opinion article, she recalled in 1991 that her elementary school, Dacotah Street School (now Christopher Dena Elementary School[3]), was 95% Hispanic and that:

While I was in the first grade, the principal somehow determined that all the students were mentally retarded. Working with other parents, my mother and father fought the label and got the state to test us. The tests revealed that few, if any, of us were "retarded" and some were gifted. I shudder to think about how things would have turned out if our parents had not fought that "retarded" label.[1]

Sandoval's family moved a few miles eastward to Montebello, where she attended Eastmont Intermediate School and Schurr High School.[1]


Sandoval entered Yale University in 1978. She served on the Minority Admissions Advisory Committee where she noted that about 35% of the Hispanic students at Yale dropped out, compared to only 5% of the total student population. In 1984 she graduated magna cum laude with a bachelor of arts degree in Latin American Studies.[4] Encouraged by her teachers and a Rhodes scholar, she applied for and received a Rhodes scholarship—the first female Latin-American recipient.[4][5][6] Sandoval entered Oxford University in October 1984 on her scholarship and studied global politics, forming a thesis regarding U.S. and Western European policy toward Nicaragua and El Salvador. In 1983-84, she studied the record of Latinos enrolled in Ivy League schools.[7] At Oxford, she rowed on the crew team and she lettered in varsity basketball.[1] In 1987, she left Oxford for Stanford Law School. There, she served on the Stanford Law Review and the Stanford Journal of International Law. Sandoval co-chaired the Stanford Latino Law Students Association.[8] In 1990 after three years at Stanford, she completed the thesis work she had started as a Rhodes scholar, and was awarded a Master of Letters in Politics from Oxford.[4][9] The same year, she earned a law degree from Stanford Law School.[4]


Following Stanford, Sandoval served for a year in Pasadena as law clerk to Judge Dorothy Wright Nelson of the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit.[8][10] After being admitted to the State Bar of California in July 1991, Sandoval was an associate litigator of Munger, Tolles & Olson, a law firm in Los Angeles.[4][11] As a board member of the Villa Malaga Housing Corporation, she managed a $2 million project funded by the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) which provided housing for people with disabilities in East Los Angeles.[8] Sandoval served on the Los Angeles County Commission on Judicial Procedures, and she co-chaired the Subcommittee on Rating and Underwriting, part of the California Insurance Commission's Anti-Discrimination Task Force under John Garamendi.[8]

In March 1994, Sandoval was named Special Assistant to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), working in the FCC's Office of International Communications, overseeing FCC policy in Latin America and developing countries.[2][8] She directed the FCC's Office of Communications Business Opportunities as deputy director from August 1994 then as full director from August 1995 to March 1999. In this position, she helped small businesses, especially minority-owned communications firms, gain greater access to FCC licensing. "For her distinguished public service, Sandoval received the FCC Chairman's Special Achievement Award in 1997, and the 1998 Patrice Johnson Award for Excellence in Public Service from the National Association of Black Telecommunications Professionals."[12]

Sandoval worked in the private sector from 1999 to 2001, serving as vice president and general counsel for Z-Spanish Media Corporation, a conglomerate of Spanish-language radio stations, news outlets and outdoor advertising.[10] During this time, Z-Spanish Media was sold to Spanish-language broadcaster Entravision Communications for approximately $448 million.[13]

From 2001 to 2004, Sandoval was an undersecretary with the California Business, Transportation and Housing Agency, serving as senior policy advisor for housing.[14] Sandoval is currently an active member of the California Bar Association, and was admitted to membership in 1991 after passing the bar in fall 1990.

In 2004, Sandoval joined the faculty of Santa Clara University School of Law as a tenure-track professor, teaching telecommunications law, antitrust law, and contract law.[15] She researched and published studies examining minority and female ownership in media, antitrust, and communications law issues. For the school year 2012–2013, Sandoval is on a partial leave of absence from Santa Clara Law. During this time, Sandoval taught a course in telecommunications law at UC Berkeley School of Law.[16]

California Public Utilities[edit]

In January 2011, California Governor Jerry Brown named Sandoval to a six-year position as one of five commissioners on the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC), based in San Francisco. She is the first Hispanic to serve on the CPUC.[5][15] The board oversees rates and rules for privately owned electric, gas, water, telecommunications, rail and passenger transportation utilities. She and the CPUC have been tasked with beginning the process of increasing the ratio of renewable energy use in California to 33% of total energy consumption by 2020.[17]

Sandoval convened a rule making workshops in 2011 to analyze the proposed merger of AT&T and T-Mobile which would combine their customer base encompassing 47% of California's mobile phone market. The CPUC's investigation examined whether the merger would serve the public interest under California law in light of T-Mobile's large market share in California. The hearings were seen as creating a precedent which would inform federal investigators seeking to block the merger, according to Dan Morain, columnist for the Sacramento Bee.[18]

Personal life[edit]

Sandoval lives in Campbell, California,[14][19] with her husband Steve Smith.[20]

Sandoval has been involved with nonprofit organizations, including Comisión Femenil Mexicana Nacional which was formed to help U.S. Latinas seeking higher education.[2] A similar group—Olga Talamante's Chicana/Latina Foundation—honored Sandoval with its Legacy Award in 2011.[21] Diplomat Vilma Socorro Martínez and Judge Dorothy W. Nelson are two of Sandoval's heroes.[2]



  1. ^ a b c d Kissee-Sandoval, Catherine (June 13, 1991). "The Long Road From East L.A. to Yale, Oxford". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved October 15, 2011.
  2. ^ a b c d Ramos, George (January 10, 1994). "A Washington Post for a Woman Going Places". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved October 17, 2011.
  3. ^ Hernandez, Efrain, Jr (June 3, 1995). "At Dena Elementary, a Special Teacher's Memory Lives On". Los Angeles Times.
  4. ^ a b c d e "Santa Clara University Law Professor Catherine Sandoval Named Commissioner of CPUC". Reuters. January 26, 2011.
  5. ^ a b "Catherine Sandoval, J.D., Law Professor: First Hispanic to serve on the powerful California Public Utilities Commission". Latino Journal. Sacramento, California: California Magazine, Inc. Retrieved October 15, 2011.
  6. ^ "Latinas Today: Catherine J.K. Sandoval". Latina Style Magazine. Falls Church, Virginia. 17 (1). Archived from the original on April 25, 2012. Retrieved October 15, 2011.
  7. ^ Smith, Lynn (January 6, 1988). "Minority Students: Alienation and Failure in Academia". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved October 15, 2011.
  8. ^ a b c d e "Catherine J. Kissee-Sandoval named Special Assistant". Office of Internal Communications, FCC. Federal Communications Commission. March 3, 1994. Retrieved October 15, 2011.
  9. ^ "Catherine J. K. Sandoval: Associate Professor of Law". Santa Clara Law. Santa Clara University. Retrieved October 15, 2011.
  10. ^ a b "Governor Taps Two Attorneys for Public Utilities Commission". Metropolitan News-Enterprise. Los Angeles: Metropolitan News Company. January 26, 2011. Retrieved October 15, 2011.
  11. ^ "Catherine Janet Kissee-Sandoval". eConnect. Retrieved October 15, 2011.
  12. ^ "OCBO Director, Catherine J. K. Sandoval to leave the Commission". Federal Communications Commission. March 2, 1999. Retrieved October 15, 2011.
  13. ^ "Entravision Communications Corporation Reports Third Quarter and First Nine Months 2000 Results". Santa Monica, California. November 1, 2000. Archived from the original on March 30, 2012. Retrieved October 15, 2011.
  14. ^ a b Soto, Onell R. (January 25, 2011). "Consumer advocate and professor join PUC". The San Diego Union-Tribune. Retrieved October 15, 2011.
  15. ^ a b "First Latina on utility oversight commission: Santa Clara University Law Professor Catherine Sandoval Named Commissioner of CPUC". The American Latina. POP-9 Communications. January 27, 2011. Retrieved October 15, 2011.
  16. ^ "Berkeley Law Course Listings".
  17. ^ Gerdes, Justin. "Call her Commissioner: Sandoval joins California Public Utilities Commission". Santa Clara Magazine. Santa Clara University. Retrieved October 15, 2011.
  18. ^ Morain, Dan (August 20, 2011). "Quietly, Gov. Brown is making an impact with appointments". Contra Costa Times. Bay Area News Group. Retrieved October 16, 2011.
  19. ^ "Commissioner Catherine J.K. Sandoval". California Public Utilities Commission. Archived from the original on October 1, 2011. Retrieved October 15, 2011.
  20. ^ In her publications, Sandoval has thanked her husband:
     • "Heartfelt thanks to my family, especially to my husband, Steve Smith." Archived 2008-09-07 at the Wayback Machine
     • "Heartfelt thanks to my husband, Steve Smith, for his support throughout the research and writing of this Article." Archived 2010-05-30 at the Wayback Machine
  21. ^ "2011 Annual Scholarship Awards Dinner". South San Francisco: Chicana / Latina Foundation. October 14, 2011. Retrieved October 17, 2011.

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