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Santa Clara County, CA November 6, 2007 Election
Smart Voter Full Biography for Sid Espinosa

Candidate for
Council Member; City of Palo Alto

This information is provided by the candidate

My family's story, like so many others, is rooted in the American dream. Dad immigrated to the United States from Mexico so that his family would have a better life. He taught my siblings and me to work tirelessly and love this country for all of its rights and privileges--as well as its corresponding responsibilities. Twenty-eight years after arriving penniless and not speaking English, Dad sat in Harvard Yard as I received a graduate degree. From the fields of Mexico to Harvard Yard in one generation. Only in America.

My mom, who taught us that a valuable life is one dedicated to service, is currently serving in the Peace Corps. She is a retired teacher and has always been an active community leader. Of Scottish and Norwegian heritage, with an adventurer's spirit, she instilled in us an appreciation of different cultures and a love of travel. She has dedicated her life to helping others and standing up for what is right. As a passionate teacher, non-profit executive director, church mission-trip leader, theater board president, organic farmer, and community activist, she taught us to seek justice and always give more than we receive.

I grew up in rural Gilroy, surrounded by orchards, animals, and rolling hills, which has led to my passionate work with numerous environmental and animal-protection organizations. In those early years, Mom also taught us to appreciate the arts and their impact on creativity and innovation. We grew up at a piano, on a stage, behind a camera--and we are better for it. Those experiences have led to a life championing arts education. Today, I serve as the board vice president for the Palo Alto Arts Center Foundation and as the cabinet chair for the Center's capital campaign, which is developing an innovative public-private partnership with the City. Growing up, my Presbyterian Church also provided a fundamental grounding in others-before-self beliefs, and I developed my faith by leading Bible studies, teaching Sunday School and taping church services for convalescents.

Early on, I wasn't much of an academic. I was overlooked by teachers. Through creative maneuvering, Mom placed me in the "gifted and talented" magnet program. I was suddenly expected to be--and repeatedly told that I was--one of the brightest kids in the district. Teachers worked one-on-one to get me up to speed, and soon I was ranked at the top of the honors classes. I mention this because these experiences taught me, early on, that every kid, if given the right opportunities and support, can succeed. Any kid. By high school, I was in numerous leadership positions. From senior class president to yearbook editor to honor society president, the farm boy was suddenly being elected Homecoming Prince and Most Likely to Succeed.

Wesleyan University sparked my passion for public policy, government and community organizing. Wesleyan is a wonderful institution dedicated to critical thinking, liberal arts and activism. As I worked my way through college, in the classroom I explored several fields before deciding that public service and professions that addressed social needs would ensure a meaningful life. I fortified this resolve with a graduate degree in public policy from Harvard.

My work experiences have reflected my dedication to public policy, community service and philanthropy. From the White House during the Clinton Administration to my current position at Hewlett-Packard Company, I have worked to address community needs and fought against injustice. For three years in the mid-1990s, I served as an aide to U.S. Attorney General Janet Reno, who further cemented in me a fighter's spirit and a clear understanding of the importance of social justice and integrity.

Today, as the director of philanthropy programs for Hewlett-Packard, I oversee the company's strategic philanthropic investments in non-profits and schools across the globe. My work currently focuses on initiatives in education, economic development and the environment. Every day I witness the positive differences we make in the lives of people around the world, whether it's an investment in an African school system or our recently launched multi-million dollar partnership to support innovative climate change research. My years at HP have helped me become more adept at identifying and developing creative, efficient, and effective solutions to community problems.

As much as my work is global, my own community engagement has been overwhelmingly local. As a board member of the Palo Alto Chamber of Commerce, I have worked hard to develop and support the city's business community and economic vitality, which is, of course, a vital component to any community's social fabric. As a member of the working councils of the Silicon Valley Leadership Group and the Bay Area Council, I successfully advocated at local, state and national levels for effective policy changes on everything from affordable housing and transportation to economic development, open space and R&D investments. As a strong advocate of local community involvement, last year I co-chaired a successful fundraising campaign for Youth Community Services, a Palo Alto-based non-profit dedicated to engaging youth in service projects. As an education advocate, I participate in numerous volunteer activities inside the classroom. And last year, I joined an amazing team of volunteers to lead the corporate fundraising campaign for Partners in Education and the Palo Alto Recreation Foundation through the Black & White Ball. As a history nut, I am a proud member of the Palo Alto Historical Association's advisory board. The list goes on.

My dad came to this country for its unparalleled opportunities. I learned the American way--work hard and give back. If we want a vibrant community, we must follow in the footsteps of previous generations by identifying our community's problems and needs, and then rolling up our sleeves to address them. That's the opportunity and the obligation that I feel to our country and our community. And that's why I do what I do.

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Created from information supplied by the candidate: October 3, 2007 11:00
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