Ms. Schenk served as Chief of Staff to California Governor Gray Davis from 1999 to 2003. As Chief of Staff to the Governor, she oversaw the day to day operations of state government through the 12 Cabinet agencies and more than 75 departments and offices. She managed the Governor's office staff of about 200 and had the homeland security office, the National Guard, and the Office of Emergency Services reporting directly to her. She was the Governor's chief executive and top policy advisor.
In 1992, Ms. Schenk became the first woman elected to the United States House of Representatives to represent the San Diego area. As a member of the 103d Congress, Congresswoman Schenk sat on the House Energy and Commerce Committee and its subcommittees on Telecommunications and Finance, and Transportation and Hazardous Materials. She also sat on the Merchant Marine and Fisheries Committee.
Ms. Schenk was an active member of the 103d Congress, focusing on telecommunications, biotechnology, transportation, deficit reduction (she was involved in the formulation of the historic 1993 Budget Act), women and family issues, and victims of crime. Although a first term member, among her House colleagues, Ms. Schenk was the recognized congressional leader on matters related to biotechnology and high-speed rail.
Her work on U.S.-Mexico border issues resulted in hundreds of new border patrol agents, and a border sewage treatment plant. Her accomplishment in establishing a new commuter lane to ease vehicle traffic at the border (now known as SENTRI), is acknowledged as a turning point in cross border commuting. From 1978 to 1983, Ms. Schenk served in the Cabinet of Governor Jerry Brown as California's Secretary of Business, Transportation and Housing (the first woman to hold this Cabinet post). She was responsible for a budget of nearly $2 billion, 32,000 employees and 14 departments ranging from Banking, Insurance and Corporations to the Department of Motor Vehicles, the Department of Transportation (CALTRANS), and the Highway Patrol. She also had primary responsibility in the Cabinet for California's international trade relations, focusing on Mexico, Canada and the Pacific Rim nations.
Prior to her state Cabinet appointment, Ms. Schenk served as a Deputy Attorney General in the criminal division of the California Attorney General's office, followed by several years as an in-house lawyer to the San Diego Gas & Electric Company. In 1976, she was appointed a White House Fellow by President Ford serving as a special assistant to Vice- Presidents Nelson Rockefeller and Walter Mondale.
Ms. Schenk has combined many years of private sector experience with public service. She has practiced general business law in San Diego, co-founded a community bank, was "special counsel" to a large international law firm and has served on the Board of Directors of several publicly traded companies.
Ms. Schenk has been deeply involved in the San Diego community as a civic volunteer. She was a Commissioner (and Vice-Chair of the Board) of the San Diego Unified Port District. She has served on numerous boards and commissions, including the San Diego Symphony and the Red Cross. Her contributions have been recognized with many awards and honors.
Ms. Schenk earned a B.A. from UCLA, a Juris Doctorate from the University of San Diego School of Law, and did post law school graduate work at the London School of Economics.
Appointed by the Governor of the State of California