In a career spanning more than four decades, Senator Art Torres (Ret.) has
distinguished himself as a public servant determined to tackle complex policy issues and
stand up for those without a voice. He has led crucial bipartisan initiatives in the fields of
healthcare, education, the environment, human rights and has been a leader in the public,
private, and non-profit sectors.
In March 2009, Senator Torres was unanimously elected statutory Vice Chair of
the Independent Citizens Oversight Committee, the governing Board of the California
Institute of Regenerative Medicine (CIRM). CIRM, established in 2005 following the
passage of Proposition 71, is charged with allocating $3 billion to California universities
and research institutions to support and advance stem cell research. He is a colon cancer
and osteoarthritis survivor.
In 2010, he was sworn in by then Mayor Gavin Newsom to the San Francisco’s Public
Utilities Commission, where he was elected as president of the commission. He currently
serves as the appointee of the state Senate as one of five board members of Covered
California which overseas Obamacare in California. He was also recently appointed by
the late Mayor Ed Lee to the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Authority board of
Between 1996 and 2009, he served as the Chairman of the California Democratic Party,
the longest serving Chair in U.S. history.
Senator Torres previously served twenty years in the California Legislature, eight as a
member of the State Assembly and twelve as a State Senator.
Torres chaired the Assembly Health Committee, the Senate Insurance Committee, the
Senate Joint Committee on Science and Technology, the Joint Committee on Refugees
and founded the Senate Toxics Committee.
Senator Torres authored the California Safe Drinking Water and Toxic Enforcement Act
of 1986 known as Proposition 65. The proposition was intended to protect the State’s
drinking water sources from chemicals known to cause cancer, birth defects or other
reproductive harm, and to inform citizens about exposures to such chemicals.
His passion to deter pesticide poisoning came from working closely with Cesar Chavez in
the early 1970’s as the National Legislative Director of the United Farm Workers Union.
As Chairman of the Senate Toxics Committee, he created the sole toxic reporting
repository that helps scientists determine environmental and health impacts. Dr. Eric
Roberts said the database Senator Torres helped create is “a data source that really no one
else has on the planet.”
He secured direct funding for university research programs as well as structural support
for industry-sponsored work, and funded early HIV/AIDS research in conjunction with
Dr. Marcus Conant, before most public officials recognized the severity of the epidemic.
He also advocated for insurance reimbursement for breast cancer treatments.
Through his legislation he helped create the only national Japanese American Museum
located in Little Tokyo, Los Angeles and co-authored legislation to create the Museum on
Tolerance in Los Angeles.
He led international delegations to release Vietnamese prisoners from "education camps”
in Hanoi, Vietnam and to assist Soviet Jewish refuseniks’ efforts in the former Soviet
In 1989, he assisted in drafting Pope John Paul II’s environmental message, and
along with Nobel Laureates and international environmental leaders presented their
document to the Holy Father in the Vatican before it was delivered in St. Peter’s Square
on New Year’s Day, 1990.
He also served as a German Marshall Fund Fellow and delivered a paper on Western
European immigration issues. He was also appointed by the United States Senate, by the
late US Senator Edward M. Kennedy, to the Commission on International Migration and
Cooperative Economic Development, which presented its recommendations on
immigration reform to then President George Bush in 1990.
Torres also served as President of the Kaitz Foundation, dedicated to bringing more
diversity into management within the cable television industry. The Kaitz Board was
comprised of a majority of the top CEOs in the cable television industry.
Senator Torres holds a Bachelor's Degree from UC Santa Cruz and a Juris Doctorate
degree from UC Davis School of Law.
He also served as a John F. Kennedy teaching fellow at Harvard University's
John F. Kennedy School of Government and recently as the University of San
Francisco’s Diversity Scholar Visiting Professor.