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Lucille Roybal-Allard: 1941—: U.S. Congresswoman

No Interest In Holding Office

Roybal-Allard knew that she wanted to serve the community, but she had no desire to become politically active. She was impressed with the commitment she saw in both her parents. But growing up in a political household had left her feeling that politics could be too intrusive into one's personal life, and she had little desire to be in the political spotlight. Her mother had often been at her husband's side during his campaigns, but her most important contribution had been behind the scenes, running his campaign headquarters. Roybal-Allard reasoned that working behind the scenes was what she wanted as well, so she opted for a career in nonprofit administration. Among the positions she held were as assistant director of the Alcoholism Council of East Los Angeles, executive director of the National Association of Hispanic CPAs (based in Washington, D.C.), and planning associate for the United Way. In these positions her duties included public relations and fundraising. She came across as calm and quiet, and gained a reputation as a consensus-builder. These were useful attributes for a politician, but RoybalAllard still chose to stay away from the rigors of politics and the loss of privacy she knew would come with a political life.

At a Glance . . .

Born Lucille Roybal on June 12, 1941, in Los Angeles, CA; daughter of Edward Ross Roybal (politician); married Edward Allard III (second marriage); two children, two stepchildren. Education: California State University, BA, 1965.

Career: Alcoholism Council of East Los Angeles, assistant director; National Association of Hispanic CPAs, executive director; United Way, planning associate; California State Assembly, 1987-92; US Congress, 1993–.

Memberships: Congressional Hispanic Caucus, chairman, 1998–.

Awards: Legislator of the Year award, National Organization for Women, 1991; Legislative Environmental Achievement Award, California Sierra Club, 1992; Las Primeras Award, Mexican-American Women's National Association, 1992.

Addresses: Offices—2435 Rayburn House Office Building, Washington, D.C. 20514; 255 East Temple Street, Suite 1860, Los Angeles, CA 90012.

Gradually, however, her feelings changed. Her work in nonprofits allowed her to see first-hand how politics could be as damaging as it could be useful. At their worst, politicians could thwart progress. But at their best they could make significant contributions. One friend she felt fit that description was Gloria Molina, a California state assemblywoman. When Molina left the assembly to join the Los Angeles City Council in 1986, she suggested that Roybal-Allard run for her vacant seat. Roybal-Allard weighed her options and decided that she could make more of a difference in her community as an elected official. She agreed to run as a Democrat for the assembly seat, and beat nine other candidates, garnering 60 percent of the vote. While in office she served on the Assembly Rules Committee and the Ways and Means Committee, and chaired a subcommittee on health and human services.

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Brief BiographiesBiographies: Dudley Randall Biography - A Poet from an Early Age to Ferrol Sams Jr BiographyLucille Roybal-Allard: 1941—: U.S. Congresswoman Biography - No Interest In Holding Office, Brought Grass-roots Groups Together, Moved To The National Stage