Throughout Commissioner Ricardo Lara’s career, he’s always stood up for working families and against injustice, even when doing so was difficult or unpopular. Grounded in his East Los Angeles upbringing and raised by a factory worker and a seamstress, Ricardo has built a record on bringing people together around tough challenges and delivering results that improve people’s lives. As a graduate of LAUSD schools and a lifelong resident of Southeast Los Angeles, he knows first-hand the challenges facing the immigrant and working class communities.
Dubbed by the Los Angeles Times as the "Point man in the push for immigrant rights," then-Senator Lara in 2016 engineered the successful statewide campaign to allow for multi-lingual education in California's schools. He was also one of the key leaders behind a landmark effort to grant driver's licenses to undocumented immigrants in California.
Ricardo led the charge in the State Senate the groundbreaking law that provided health care for 170,000 immigrant children, and has played a strong, dynamic role in shaping, implementing and expanding Covered California. He co-introduced Californians for a Healthy California Act (SB 562), which would create a single-payer healthcare system for the state.
Beyond his time in public office, Ricardo has dedicated his entire career to public service. From serving as Associated Student Inc. (ASI) Vice President while studying at San Diego State University, to working with the late Assembly Member Marco Antonio Firebaugh on the landmark AB540 legislation that opened the doors for undocumented students to pursue a higher education, his dedication to serving the most vulnerable in the state has not wavered. He later worked as a legislative staffer for years, including working for State Assembly Speaker Fabian Nuñez and for now State Senate President pro Tem Kevin de Léon before being elected to the Assembly in 2010.
Ricardo’s leadership was quickly recognized by his colleagues in the legislature and served as Chairman of the Appropriations Committee in the State Senate. In his first term, he was elected chair of the influential California Legislative Latino Caucus and served as Vice Chair of the California Legislative Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender (LGBT) Caucus. Upon his election to the Senate in 2012, Ricardo made history by becoming the first openly gay person of color elected to the California State Senate. He is also an active member of the California LGBT Caucus and a board member of the Equality California Institute.
Commissioner Lara is the first openly gay statewide elected official in California. He currently serves as the President of the National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials (NALEO).