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HSF Alumni

Dr. Sandra Hernandez

  • Gender: Female
  • University: Yale University
  • University: Tufts University
  • Undergraduate Degree: Psychology
  • Post Graduate Degree: Doctor of Medicine
  • Hometown: Tucson
  • State: Arizona
  • Organization: California Healthcare Foundation,School of Medicine, University of California, San Francisco
  • Position Title: President & CEO,Assistant Clinical Professor

Sandra Hernández has dedicated her life to helping others through medicine, while also championing affordable health care access for all. She is the granddaughter of Mexican immigrants who settled in the Southwest to work for the Southern Pacific Railroad. She says her mother, a women's clothing store worker, and father, a self-educated engineer and railroad machinist, served as role models for her and her brother, nurturing their love of science and math.

She attended Yale University, where she graduated with a bachelor’s degree in Psychology and then, with the help of an HSF scholarship, entered Tufts University School of Medicine. While in medical school, her interest in public health and infectious diseases deepened and took on personal urgency when her older brother contracted, and eventually succumbed, to HIV/AIDS during the 1980s epidemic. She went on to serve as a practicing physician in San Francisco General Hospital’s Division of HIV, Infectious Diseases, and Global Medicine from 1984 to 2016.

Today, Sandra serves as President and CEO of the California Health Care Foundation, an independent, nonprofit, philanthropic organization, with assets of more than $700 million, which aims to ensure all Californians receive access to affordable health care. She is also an Assistant Clinical Professor at the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF) School of Medicine.

Before taking on her current roles, she led The San Francisco Foundation, as CEO and as the first Latina to head the organization, for 16 years. During her tenure, the organization doubled its assets, making it one of the nation's largest community philanthropic foundations. Prior to that, she served as the Director of Public Health for the City and County of San Francisco—the first woman and Latina in that role. Her work led her to complete a certificate program for senior executives in state and local government at Harvard University's John F. Kennedy School of Government.

Outside of her professional endeavors, she serves as a trustee of the Reno-based Asbestos Settlement Trusts, and is a board member of First Republic Bank and the Public Policy Institute of California Statewide Leadership Council. Additionally, she sits on the Covered California board of directors, a role to which she was appointed by former California Governor, Jerry Brown. She is also on the Betty Irene Moore School of Nursing Advisory Council at the University of California, Davis, and is a member of the University of California Regents Health Services Committee.

Sandra was inducted into HSF’s Hall of Fame in 2009, when she received the Altruista award for “personifying the spirit of gratitude and the value of giving back.” In 2016, she spoke on “21st Century Innovations in Healthcare” at HSF’s inaugural STEM Summit, an annual conference that provides exceptional HSF STEM Scholars with an introduction and access to careers in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics.