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