The information below has been compiled from a variety of sources. If the reader has access to information that can be documented and that will correct or add to this woman’s biographical information, please contact the Nevada Women’s History Project.
At a glance:
Born: July 13, 1965
The current first lady in the Carson City Governor’s Mansion is still making history so this can be only be a biography in progress. In addition to being only the fifth native Nevadan to hold this office, she is the first woman to retain her professional career, in addition to adding to her already busy schedule the many responsibilities of her First Lady position.
Kathleen Teipner Sandoval was born on July 13, 1965 in Reno, Nevada. She was raised by her mother, Jean McKinley Teipner and her dad, James Wood Teipner, Jr. with whom she was extremely close. Her blended family included a sister, half-sister, two stepsisters and a stepbrother. She spent all of her formative years in Reno schools and was a 1983 graduate of Earl Wooster High School.
As many young people experience, undergraduate Kathleen tried out several areas of study before finally settling on the profession of a speech therapist. Upon high school graduation she first enrolled at Lewis and Clark College, transferred back to the University of Nevada, Reno and then attended Cal State Long Beach majoring in physical therapy; only to find that she was really interested in speech language pathology. She graduated with a Bachelor’s Degree in Speech Pathology and Audiology. Upon graduation, she returned to the University of Nevada where she obtained a Master’s Degree in Speech-Language Pathology with a focus on brain injuries.
Although they both grew up in Reno, Nevada Kathleen met future husband Brian Sandoval while attending a summer school session at UNR. They were married in 1990 after he completed his law degree. She laughing adds that unknown to her at the time; she actually had a connection to him much earlier. As a member of 4-H, Brian raised and sold lambs as part of that local program, and her father James Wood had purchased some of those lambs many years before.
Her initial employment was as a speech-language pathologist in a brain injury unit which led to a position as a Regional Manager for a health company that helped develop brain injury units in various states. Now holding the title of Program Director of the Children’s Cabinet, she has been with the Children’s Cabinet in Northern Nevada since 2000. This involves working with at-risk children who have been abused, who are runaways and/or have substance abuse or delinquency problems. Mrs. Sandoval feels passionate about the importance of the work that she does and she is assisting in establishing a similar type of organization in Southern Nevada.
Because of that commitment to her work there was never any question that she would continue with her Children’s Cabinet position when her husband was elected as Governor. She saw her new state role as an incredible opportunity for her “to advocate and really make the needs of children in our state known, and…addressed.” Her hardest adjustment was figuring out how to integrate the additional first lady responsibilities into her already full schedule. She credits the support of her entire family for helping in her success at fulfilling the different roles. Understandably they are her first priority.
She found her life in the Governor’s Mansion to be a lot smoother than anticipated. After helping with the initial adjustment of her teenaged children and young daughter, devising multiple school/activity schedules in two different cities, and getting used to the lack of personal privacy (tourist and organizational groups tour the mansion), she was pleasantly surprised at how so many unrelated individuals blended into such a close knit family-staff relationship with the Sandoval’s so quickly. In addition to the Personal Assistant, and mansion and grounds staff, there is always the ever present security detail. She has found the greatest disadvantage to their new life to be the one felt by every governor’s family with young children; the many absences of husband/father. However, with modern technology such as cell phones and texting, all stay in touch and family time becomes a cherished premium. It is important that at least one parent attend children’s events but both Governor and Mrs. Sandoval can often be seen at their son and daughter’s Manogue High School basketball games.
Attending to the needs of the total state necessitates visits to Southern Nevada as well attending functions in Nevada’s rural counties. Air travel shortens the time it takes to reach Las Vegas but all visits in her official capacity make for very long days of back to back meetings or functions. Mrs. Sandoval relaxes by reading and considers herself an avid reader and a lover of all kinds of music. Although the there are now many fewer occasions, she and the Governor still enjoy sneaking away to do a bit of antiquing.
In addition to her youth advocacy, leadership by example is also of prime importance to this First Lady. Initially many said it was impossible to successfully combine both a professional career and first lady duties. Because it was important to her, she found a way to skillfully manage both sets of responsibilities through her determination, planning and hard work. Working outside the home is no longer a luxury for most women but a necessity. It is commonplace for women to seek the same type of careers and achievement levels as their male counterparts. She wants to be a model for young women with their own dreams or passions, showing they need not limit themselves but can go after and achieve those dreams while making a positive difference for others along the way. This legacy goal is an action plan in progress.
Written by Patti Bernard. Approved by Kathleen Sandoval.