At a Glance
- Career History: California Speaker (2008-2010), California Assemblywoman (2005-2010), head of the Community Coalition (1991-2004), clinical instructor
- Birthday: October 3, 1953
- Hometown: Los Angeles, California
- Alma Mater: B.A. from San Diego State
Path To Power
Born in south Los Angeles, Bass attended San Diego State. After graduation, she became a physician assistant. She later taught health communication at USC School of Medicine.
Bass got involved in activism on a number of issues, from civil rights to the anti-apartheid movement. In 1991, concerned about the effects of crack use in her community, she formed a non-profit organization called the Community Coalition. She served as the group's executive director for 14 years, which were partly defined by the race relations problems brought to light by the 1992 Los Angeles riots.
Bass describes herself as a "progressive." "My life has been defined by the fight for social justice," she said in 2005.
In the California Assembly, Bass worked on legislation to help individuals with criminal records find employment by allowing them to get licenses for professional vocations. She also advocated eliminating the requirement that students pass a high-school exit exam to graduate. "If you begin taking the test in the 10th grade and you're not passing it, what's your incentive to finish high school?" she argued.
Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa (D) gave Bass crucial support during her bid for the California Assembly in 2004, when he had yet to become Los Angeles mayor, and during her campaign for the U.S. House in 2010. Bass was also a close ally of former California Speaker Fabian Nunez.
She also formed connections to Barack Obama's entourage when she co-chaired his state campaign in the 2008 presidential election.