Nancy Skinner is a social justice advocate, energy and climate change trailblazer and accomplished legislator who has served the East Bay as a Berkeley City Councilmember, Director of the East Bay Regional Park District, member of the State Assembly and now as our State Senator.
Born in San Francisco, Nancy was raised in Southern California, with her eight brothers and sisters and WWII veteran parents who met overseas while serving in the Army.
Nancy has been breaking glass ceilings since she was elected the first “girl” student body president at her high school. She ran on the dare: “girls just can’t be presidents.” Later while a grad student at UC Berkeley, Skinner was elected to the Berkeley City Council, the first and only UC Berkeley student to do so.
As a student at Cal, Nancy was a leader in UC’s South Africa Divestment campaign, organized the 20th anniversary of the Free Speech Movement commemorations, and helped found the labor union representing teaching assistants, now the Graduate Student Instructors union affiliated as UAW Local 2865.
On the Berkeley City Council, Nancy introduced Berkeley’s Styrofoam ban -the first in the US, and co-founded ICLEI-Local Governments for Sustainability. At ICLEI she directed the Cities for Climate Protection program that engaged over a thousand cities worldwide in efforts to combat climate change. Skinner went on to work with The Climate Group enlisting Fortune 500 companies to take a leadership role in addressing our climate crisis.
In 2006, Nancy was elected to the Board of Directors of the East Bay Regional Park District. There she worked to protect open space, add acres of additional parks, and expand recreational opportunities for youth.
Continuing her public service, Nancy was elected to the State Assembly in 2008, a seat she held until being termed out in 2014. In the Assembly she served as Chair of the Assembly Rules Committee and the Budget Committee.
In the Assembly, Skinner fought to close corporate tax loopholes, authoring the bill that required Internet retailers like Amazon to collect sales tax. She tackled income inequality by restoring income taxes on the super rich to the same rate they were under Governor’s Reagan and Wilson (AB 1130), A strong champion of renewable energy, Skinner authored bills that doubled rooftop solar and increased California’s share of renewable electricity.
Recognized nationally for her advocacy to prevent gun violence, in 2014 Skinner was given the Courageous Leadership Award by the National Coalition to Stop Gun Violence. Her gun violence restraining order law allows families to act immediately to remove guns from those who threaten to commit violence to themselves or others; she also authored legislation that banned ammunition kits used to convert guns into assault-style weapons.
Elected to the California State Senate in 2016, Skinner is the Senate Democratic Majority Whip and Chair of both the Public Safety Policy Committee and the Budget Subcommittee that oversees Public Safety, Corrections and the Courts.
Her effective leadership in the Senate led to the Oakland Magazine naming her 2018’s East Bay Person of the Year, citing Skinner’s successful legislation such as SB 1421 that opened public access to police records and SB 1437 that ended California’s unjust felony murder law.
Skinner has been a long time advocate for increasing the number of women in elected office, she served on the Board of the East Bay Women’s Political Alliance and launched the statewide Women in Power Pac to support Democratic women running for state office. Skinner and her husband are 40 year residents of Berkeley, her daughter Sirona and daughter in law Sinead, live in Richmond.