First Lady Kathleen Sandoval is a proud native Nevadan, having grown up in Reno and graduated from Wooster High School. She earned her bachelor’s degree in psychology and speech pathology and audiology from California State University, Long Beach. She also holds a master’s degree from the University of Nevada, Reno, where she completed her thesis on the whole-language approach for speech language pathology. Mrs. Sandoval has worked as a speech language pathologist focusing on traumatic brain injury, and as a rehabilitation program director for extended care facilities.
Mrs. Sandoval has dedicated her career to improving the lives of others. As Director of Operations at the Children’s Cabinet in Reno, the largest non-profit organization in Northern Nevada, Mrs. Sandoval concentrates her efforts on reducing school truancy, evaluating mental health issues, supporting homeless, runaway and abused children, and on preventing family violence. As a youth advocate, she has been instrumental in implementing juvenile detention alternatives in Washoe County.
As Nevada’s first lady, Mrs. Sandoval is a champion of literacy, early childhood education, children’s mental health, food security for children and families, and women’s health initiatives. She chairs the Governor’s Council on Food Security, and recently joined the Governor in launching the Governor’s Breakfast Challenge, which encourages schools to expand access to healthy, nutritious breakfasts for students who would otherwise miss out on the most important meal of the day. She is also actively advocating for “Breakfast Before the Bell” legislation, which would mandate that schools provide a time and opportunity for students to eat breakfast before their school day begins, and would provide free breakfast for needy students who cannot afford to purchase it on their own. The legislation would require schools with 50% or more students eligible for a free or reduced priced lunch to offer a breakfast to each student, which will improve the overall health of Nevada’s students and help to reduce food insecurity.
Mrs. Sandoval is also engaged in combating prescription drug abuse, which is an increasingly serious problem, especially among Nevada’s youth. She has been instrumental in implementing important policy changes as a member of the National Governors Association’s Prescription Drug Abuse Committee and is helping to advance a prescription drug abuse bill that would reduce prescription drug abuse in Nevada. In addition, Mrs. Sandoval is a state leader of efforts to improve children’s mental health, and hosts an annual summit devoted to exploring children’s mental health issues and best practices. Mrs. Sandoval works to advance literacy through her service as a reading ambassador for the Scholastic Summer Reading Challenge, as well as the Honorary Chair for the State of Nevada’s “Read for the Record.” Mrs. Sandoval works to fight poverty and homelessness as an active member of the Nevada Interagency Council on Homelessness, and champions women’s health issues as the Honorary Chair and spokeswoman for the Nevada Health Center’s Mammovan, which provides healthcare support for underserved women. Mrs. Sandoval’s ongoing efforts to improve Nevada’s communities have earned her both the Women in Leadership Award, as well as the Health Care Hero award.
The First Lady is privileged to have the many responsibilities with which the people of Nevada have entrusted her. The job she considers most important however, is her job as a mother, and she considers her family her number one priority. The Governor and Mrs. Sandoval were married in 1990 and have three children.