Board Member Catherine Sandoval
CSB Board Member Catherine J.K. Sandoval, Esq. was nominated by President Joseph Biden to the U.S. Chemical Safety and Hazard Investigation Board on June 8, 2022, and confirmed by the U.S. Senate on December 13, 2022. She began her post on February 2, 2023.
Board Member Sandoval’s more than two decades of safety leadership includes investigating and responding to hydrocarbon incidents, root cause analysis, promoting process safety management, safety culture, and utility safety, reliability, equity, and environmental sustainability. Through her public, private sector, and academic career, she gained collaborative management experience at multi-billion-dollar budget organizations. As a tenured Law Professor at Santa Clara University (SCU), she taught and conducted research on Energy, Communications, Antitrust, and Contract law. Her scholarship analyzed legal and policy drivers of energy, communications, and water infrastructure safety, reliability, access, and equity.
As a Commissioner of the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC), appointed by Governor Jerry Brown, and unanimously confirmed by the California State Senate, she responded to major chemical incidents during her six-year term including the natural gas pipeline explosion in San Bruno, California and the methane plume at Aliso Canyon, the largest methane leak in America. Previously, she served as Undersecretary and Staff Director of California’s Business, Transportation, and Housing Agency (BTH), appointed by Governor Gray Davis. At BTH she oversaw safety and infrastructure initiatives and California state agencies including the California Highway Patrol which responded to refinery and hazardous material incidents and shelter-in-place orders. Member Sandoval also served at the Federal Communications Commission, where she was Director of the Office of Communications Business Opportunities, promoting access to communications and internet services and licenses for underserved and rural communities, and small, minority, women-owned businesses.
In the private sector Member Sandoval served as an expert witness, was Vice-President and General Counsel of Z-Spanish Media Corporation, a division of Entravision Media, and was an Associate at the law firm of Munger, Tolles & Olson. She began her legal career as a law clerk to Judge Dorothy W. Nelson at the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals.
Member Sandoval earned a B.A., magna cum laude, from Yale University, a Master of Letters from Oxford University where she was a Rhodes Scholar, and a J.D. from Stanford Law School where she was a member of the Stanford Law Review. She is a Fellow of The American Bar Foundation, an honor limited to the top 1% of lawyers in each jurisdiction. She achieved a string of “firsts” as the first Latina CSB Board Member, the first Latinx CPUC Commissioner, the first Latina tenured professor at SCU Law, the first Latina Rhodes Scholar, and the first in her family to earn a four-year college degree.