The Success Story of Senator Elaine K. Alquist '66
"My MacMurray experience contributed immensely to my life in terms of my maturity and showing me that anything was possible for me as a woman and as a human being."
Senator Elaine Kontominas Alquist, who represents California's Silicon Valley, earned a bachelor's degree in mathematics from MacMurray College in 1966. She received her master's of arts degree in guidance and counseling and education from Washington University, where she graduated with honors.
After being an algebra and trigonometry teacher and counselor in the public school system in St. Louis, Missouri, Alquist moved to Santa Clara County, California in 1978. In 1981, she served as PTA President and beginning in 1983, she served eight years as a member and then president of the Board of Education of the Cupertino Union School District. A former small business owner, realtor and financial analyst at Stanford University, Alquist was the first Greek American woman elected to both houses of the California State Legislature. In the Assembly (1996-2002), she was the first chair of the assembly committee on information technology. Elected to the State Senate in November 2004, she chairs the Senate Budget Subcommittee on Health, Human Services, Labor, and Veterans Affairs, overseeing $80 billion in state and federal funding for programs that serve 12 million adults and children in California. She also chairs the Senate Committee on Human Services; the Senate Subcommittee on Aging and Long-term Care; and the Select Committee on Emerging Technologies and Economic Competitiveness.
Alquist is also a member of the Senate's Budget and Fiscal Review Committee, and policy committees on Education, Health, and Revenue and Taxation; and the Select Committees on Obesity and Diabetes, Asian Pacific Islander Affairs, Defense and Aerospace Industry, Earthquake and Disaster Preparedness, and Manufactured Homes and Communities. She has authored and advocated for policies in pre-K through higher education to reduce class size, improve career technical education, strengthen teacher training in math and science, increase per pupil funding, and expand the CalGrant student aid program. As an advocate for the elderly and disabled, she has authored landmark laws on nursing home safety and HMO reform. As the first woman chair to the California Senate's Public Safety Committee, she authored ground-breaking legislation that makes it easier to protect children from sexual predators. In her first Senate term, Alquist authored pioneering hospital safety legislation that establishes a meaningful hospital error reporting and enforcement/fine system.
Alquist created California's First-Time Homebuyers Down Payment Assistance Program and is working on solutions to ease traffic congestion by fighting to bring the BART transit system and high-speed rail to Silicon Valley. She has sponsored 13 women's health fairs, where several thousand women have received the latest in health information and life-saving tests for cholesterol, blood glucose and bone density. She has also fought for revitalization of our economy. Alquist is avidly involved in community activities, and has received numerous awards in recognition of her national, statewide and community leadership over the last 12 years.
Alquist's family includes her sons, Peter (wife, Anju Chowdry) and Bryan White (wife, Asako Yasui). She is the adoring yia yia (Greek grandmother) of Jasmine and Logan.