Alicia Sanchez of Santa Rosa's KBBF-FM wins 2019 Latino Business Leadership Awards

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Alicia Sanchez

Board president

KBBF 89.1 FM Radio

P.O. Box 7189, Santa Rosa 95407



Find out more about the other 2019 Latino Business Leadership Awards winners.

Professional background: Union organizer

Education: Bachelor of Arts and Juris Doctor

Staff: 100% volunteer

Tell us your story and that of your organization: My parents were farmworkers and we were poor. My five brothers and I were taught the value of helping others and education by our parents. We came to Santa Rosa in 1969.

I was the first to graduate from college and law school. After graduation, I went to work for the UFW. Cesar Chavez was very happy that a daughter of farmworkers was returning to serve farmworkers.

In 1986 I returned to Santa Rosa after my marriage and son’s birth. Together with other activists, I co-founded an independent democratic union and became involved in issues affecting our community. For three decades I worked as a union organizer. I remarried and had another wonderful son.

In 2010 I was asked to become KBBF’s board president. Since then I have devoted all my time making sure KBBF stays on the air. I believe in the KBBF vision, “To create a strong multilingual voice that empowers and engages the community at large in order to achieve social justice through education, celebration of culture and delivery of local and international news coverage.”

In 1973, KBBF became the first bilingual public radio station in the United States. It was founded by a group of idealists seeking to provide cultural, educational and informational radio programming to a community that had been historically excluded. Its vision included helping its listening audience to become productive and participatory members of the mainstream community and building bridges of understanding.

I am proud to be part of KBBF’s legacy and vision.

Is there a major accomplishment in the past year or so that you would like to share?

The wonderful team of KBBF volunteers who has met the many challenges time and time again like in the early hours of the morning of Oct 9, 2017. KBBF with its 100% volunteer staff, became the first source of information to the Spanish speaking community by preempting its regular programming and broadcasting emergency updates primarily in Spanish but also in English for the next two weeks of the fires.

KBBF opened its airways and offices for call-in and walk-in questions and donations for the community.

What is the achievement you are most proud of?

In the past, it was my work in the late 1980’s with Sonoma County Industrial Union where I felt we did the most leadership development among women workers. It took us 3 years to get the first union contract in Sonoma County among Latino workers (75% female workforce). In the present, I have to say KBBF revival.

Almost 10 years ago, we took KBBF from a road kill specimen to again being the Voice of Your Community.

What is your biggest challenge today?

Not losing my passion for the work I have been doing for close to 50 years. I strive not to give up, not to become cynical, not to question whether it is all worth it the work I am doing to make the world a better place for us, our community and our children and grandchildren.

What are you most proud of regarding the achievements of the area Latino business community and what are the greatest challenges faced by that community?

Alicia Sanchez

Board president

KBBF 89.1 FM Radio

P.O. Box 7189, Santa Rosa 95407



Find out more about the other 2019 Latino Business Leadership Awards winners.

I am very proud that together people are tackling the same problems (income inequality, racism, lack of social resources etc) affecting our community with different tactics than I am. Viva la differencia! I truly believe that in unity, there is strength and in strength there is success! The greatest challenge faced by the Latino business community is the attacks by others who do not understand that we have more in common than we have differences. We all are trying to better our community! We are just coming from different paths.

Words that best describe you: Honest, Attitude of Si Se Puede (We can do it), Passionate, Hardworking, Loving and striving to be as Nonjudgmental as my parents.

As a successful professional, what were the biggest obstacles you faced and how did you overcome them?

The biggest obstacles I have faced are when I allowed someone to create doubt in me, take something negative they say and react and get distracted from my focus/task. I have overcome it-by listening respectfully to others’ opinions and not taking it personally. I go back to the advice I give my sons—don’t react, don’t engage in hateful/negative behavior—keep your eyes on the goal of serving and taking care of yourself, your family and your community.

How do you think your profession will change in the next five years?

Being more challenged as we compete with social media. We have to make radio broadcasting more relevant in people’s lives.

Who was your most important mentor?

The fathers of my two sons. Newman Strawbridge, a white guy from Alabama who taught me about fighting racism and inequality. From Bernie Hovden a strong work ethic-going to work day after day for 30 years in one job and not becoming a workaholic and his devotion to family life.

Tell us about your community involvement: I have been an activist for close to 50 years in many issues affecting workers, immigrants, women, and youth as well as an advocate for non-violence, environmental issues and social justice.

What advice would you give to a young person today?

Love yourself, Trust your instincts, Believe in Yourself. Seek your passion! Serve your community. Ask for help and rest especially when you are losing your passion and doubting yourself.

Most admired businessperson outside your organization: My two sons, Salvador and Joshua. Both have a passion for their careers and work hard at their jobs. I admire their spirit of taking risks and going forward in seeking their passion. More important they both give back to the community. They are good, honorable men just like their fathers.

Current reading: Mystery books

Most want to meet: I wish I had met the critically acclaimed author Toni Morrison. She was straightforward and authentic in her beliefs.

Stress relievers: Standing in silence with Women in Black (an international network of women committed to peace with justice.), being by myself and meditating, and collaging.

Favorite hobbies: Playing soccer, collaging, reading mystery books

Is there something we didn’t ask that you would like to add?

My father told me the story of the times when he crossed the Rio Grande from Mexico to U.S. “I get to the middle of the river and I would get so scared, so exhausted, and started doubting myself. I would ask myself, “should I go back or should I go forward?” I would tread water and rest. In life, my daughter, you will come to some difficult times when you will be scared, exhausted and doubtful, and always my daughter, GO FORWARD!

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