Sandra Cano was born in Medellin, Colombia, and moved to the United States with her family in 2000. She earned a Bachelor's Degree in Management and Economics at Bryant University in 2007. She completed a Master's Degree in Public Administration at the University of Rhode Island in 2012 then went to Harvard Kennedy School where she finished couple of executive leadership programs in 2016.
Sandra is the Director of Commerce for the City of Pawtucket and is responsible for economic development activities and initiatives for the city. She is the former Assistant VP Community Development at Navigant Credit Union, where she was responsible for developing strategic business sector and community-based partnerships and developing financial education campaigns for the emerging markets. Additionally, Sandra has developed a strong track record of volunteerism and community engagement.
Sandra was elected to be a member of the Pawtucket School Committee in 2012, being the top vote-getter and the first Latina ever elected in the whole city; she was then elected as the first Latina Pawtucket City Councilor in November of 2014 and reelected in 2016. Sandra won a special election for Senate District 8 in April of 2018 and was reelected in 2020. Sandra serves as the first Latina women chair of the Senate Committee on Education and also as a member of the Senate Committee on Finance. She is currently running for reelection. Sandra has focused her legislative efforts on education, economic development, supporting the small business community creating initiatives for economic growth, as well as quality of life issues for Rhode Island working families. Sandra is a co-founding member of the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce and she was the co-chair of the emerging markets committee for the SBA Economic Summit for three years.
Sandra was recognized with the Mission Award in 2012 by the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society; she received the Collaborator of the Year Award in 2013 from the Central Falls Community Collaborative and has been recognized by her community involvement and positive impact for her work to improve the lives of the underserved communities in Rhode Island. Sandra was chosen as one of 14 people in Rhode Island who made a difference in 2014 by GoLocalProv. She was nominated as a CU Hero in 2015 and was recognized as one of the three CU Heroes by The Credit Union National Association and the Credit Union Magazine. Sandra was awarded the 2015 Financial Services Champion Award by the U.S. Small Business Administration, the 2015 Extraordinary Women Award by the Women Development Institute, the 2015 John Coen Award for Community Service and Social Justice from the Pawtucket and Central Falls Development Corporation, and the 2015 Paul E. Moura Leadership Award by the Institute for Labor Studies and Research of Rhode Island. Sandra was nominated to be the Next Top Credit Union Executive 2017 a program for emerging credit union leaders. She was voted one of the top 15 at the national level and was recognized as one of 9 Influencers to Watch in 2017 by 990 WBOB Radio.
Sandra Cano lives in Pawtucket with her fiancé, James Diossa, and their daughter, Arianna Hallel.