Zoe Lofgren's political career began in 1952 when, at the age of five, she walked precincts with her mother for Adlai Stevenson. A lifelong Bay Area resident and the daughter of a truck driver and a cafeteria cook, Zoe attended public schools and attended Stanford University on a California State Scholarship, graduating with a bachelor’s degree in political science in 1970. Prior to attending Stanford, Lofgren worked the night shift at the Eastman Kodak plant in Palo Alto to save money for non-tuition college expenses not covered by her scholarship. After graduating from Stanford, she attended, with the help of a scholarship, Santa Clara University School of Law, graduating cum laude in 1975.
She served as a member of Congressman Don Edwards’ staff for eight years in both his San Jose and Washington DC offices. While practicing and teaching immigration law, she was first elected to the San Jose Evergreen Community College Board in 1979. In 1980, she was elected to the Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors where she served for 14 years.
When first elected to the Board of Supervisors, Lofgren and her colleagues found the county's system of financial management in disarray. She helped reshape the county's management practices by streamlining operations and holding department heads more accountable for their budgets. Despite strong political opposition, she fought diligently to shift management of county jails from the sheriff 's department to a newly formed Department of Correction.
In 1984, she spearheaded the Measure A highway funding campaign, (the first of its kind in the state). Overwhelmingly approved by voters, the measure provided a one-half-cent sales tax to fund much needed improvements to highways 85, 101, and 237. In addition to serving on the Santa Clara County Traffic Authority, the governing body for Measure A, Lofgren sat on many other transportation boards and chaired the committee studying BART's extension to the South Bay. Her work on these issues confirmed her role as one of the state's leading experts on transportation.
A mother of two, Lofgren was a tireless advocate for improved social programs for families. While serving as a trustee on the San Jose Community College District from 1979 to 1981, she helped establish the first day-care center on the campus. As a county supervisor, she recognized the need to locate child-care services near the workplace. Lofgren was instrumental in establishing a day-care facility at Valley Medical Center and helped secure federal funding to build a child-care center at Tamien station, a CalTrain and light-rail depot. When completed, the Tamien child care facility will be among the first of its kind in the country.
Lofgren was a stalwart supporter of maintaining and improving county health care services for children, seniors, the mentally ill, and the needy. At her urging, the county has expanded its prenatal care and child immunization programs. She has also consistently backed creation of drug and alcohol abuse programs.
Following Congressman Don Edwards’ retirement in 1994 after 32 years in Congress, Zoe was elected to the House of Representatives. She currently serves on the House Judiciary Committee, the House Science, Space and Technology Committee, and the Committee on House Administration.
As the Chair of the Subcommittee on Immigration and Citizenship, and a former immigration attorney and immigration law professor, Zoe is recognized as an established champion of top-to-bottom immigration reform and a national leader in immigration policy. During the 113th Congress she played a key role in negotiating a comprehensive reform bill in the House Representatives as part of an eight-person bipartisan working group. In 2020, Lofgren made history made history as the first woman to present arguments in an impeachment trial as a House manager and the only sitting member of Congress to have a role in all three modern impeachment hearings.
Zoe Lofgren was featured in our Interview Project, highlighting the life and accomplishments of select Santa Clara County Supervisors.Supervisor Zoe Lofgren Interview