State legislator Sandra Hollins was born on May 11, 1970 in New Orleans, Louisiana, to mother, homemaker Iola Robinson-Seals, and father, store clerk Freddie Seals II. A 1988 graduate of McDonogh #35 High School in New Orleans, she received her B.S. degree in business management from the University of Phoenix in 2002, as well as her M.A. degree in social work from the University of Utah, College of Social Work in Salt Lake City in 2009.
Hollins began working as a licensed clinical social worker, focusing primarily on substance abuse and advocacy for Salt Lake City’s homeless population. She also worked for Volunteers of America Utah, as manager of the organization’s homeless outreach program. In 2014, Hollins entered state politics, defeating Republican candidate Kristopher Smith to become the first African American woman elected to the Utah State Legislature, representing District 23 in Salt Lake City, Utah. As a legislator, she served as Minority Caucus Manager, and on committees including; Social Services Appropriations, Health and Human Services, the Law Enforcement and Criminal Justice and Child Welfare oversight panel. Hollins authored legislation on state job applications, criminal and traffic code amendments, and school resource officer and administrator training. She also sponsored House Bill 156 – or "Ban the Box" bill – which supported removing questions and check boxes from job applications asking about criminal records.
Hollins has served on numerous boards and committees including: the Greater Salt Lake Alumnae Chapter-Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc.; National Association of Social Workers; Fairpark Community Council; Salt Lake County African American Caucus;
Women In Government; Martha Hughes Cannon Caucus; and the Salt Lake City Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure Board. She served as a judge for the Youthlinc Utah Young Humanitarian Award in 2017, and was elected as the western regional director for The National Organization of Black Elected Legislative Women, also serving as co-chair of the Women and Children Committee for the National Black Caucus of State Legislators. In 2016, Hollins received the Call to Serve award from Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc. She received the Pioneer Award from the Utah African American Chamber of Commerce in 2017, as well as the Business Champion award from the Salt Lake Chamber that same year.
Hollins and her husband, David have two adult daughters, Jaynell and Canice.
Sandra Hollins was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on January 18, 2018.
Let Your Faith Be Bigger Than Your Fears
Salt Lake City
State representative Sandra Hollins (1970- ), the first African American woman elected to the Utah State Legislature in 2014 was previously the manager of Volunteers of America, Utah’s homeless outreach program.