Grace Flores Napolitano was born in Brownsville, Texas. After high school, she married and moved with her husband to California where they raised 5 children. She began her political career in 1986 as a member of the Norwalk City Council, and in 1989 Napolitano’s fellow council members selected her to serve as Mayor. During her tenure, she addressed the city's need for jobs and reliable public transportation. Napolitano was elected in 1992 to the California Assembly, where she quickly earned a reputation as a hard worker and champion for international trade/economic expansion, environmental protection, transportation, immigration, small business, and women's issues.
First elected to Congress in 1998, Napolitano is currently serving her eleventh term. Her Los Angeles County-based district covers several cities and communities in the San Gabriel Valley. Napolitano serves on the House Committee on Transportation & Infrastructure and is currently the Chairwoman on the Subcommittee on Water Resources and Environment. She continues to advance projects and policies that relieve congestion, improve transit, and reduce the negative impacts her district takes on as a primary shipping corridor from the Ports of Long Beach and Los Angeles. Napolitano also serves on the House Committee on Natural Resources and is a long-time promoter of conservation, water recycling, desalination, and groundwater management as solutions to Southern California’s water needs.
Napolitano is the founder and Chair of the Congressional Mental Health Caucus. She has been active in securing mental health parity in the Affordable Care Act, promoting mental health legislation, and working with prominent figures to increase funding and access to mental health services in Congress. Her 2001 program providing mental health and suicide prevention services on-site in four schools has expanded to 35 schools with assistance from Los Angeles County Mental Health, which now serves as a model program for H.R. 1109, the Mental Health Services for Students Act. She is also the founder and Co-Chair of the Congressional Youth Challenge Caucus, which supports Youth Challenge: a program run by the National Guard cadre using military discipline and education to help at-risk youth complete high school to emerge better armed with knowledge and training for success. The Congresswoman is a member and former Chairwoman of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, which addresses the impact of national issues on the Hispanic community.