American Democratic politician who served in the California Senate from 2001 to 2010 and was the first woman to hold the position of Majority Leader in the California Senate.
She earned both her Bachelor's and Master's degrees from California State University, Long Beach and her PhD from the University of California, Riverside.
She was a member of the California Faculty Association and became a leader in California education reform.
She was born in Barstow, California and had five siblings.
She served in the California Senate during Arnold Schwarzenegger's tenure as governor.