When Carla Sands, then-future ambassador to Denmark and current Vice Chair for Energy and Environment at America First Policy Institute, was an art history major in college, her father called her up one day to read the wanted ads aloud.  

“He read the starting salaries for young people with four-year fine arts degrees,” Sands recalls. “And he asked me ‘How do you intend to maintain yourself in the style to which you’ve become accustomed?’ Then he said he had a proposal for me: switching to pre-med and continuing on to become a doctor of chiropractic.”

Carla’s father, Dr. Jack Herd, was a prominent chiropractor in Camp Hill, Pennsylvania. His father had founded the practice in 1953. “He made me a great offer,” Sands recalls, “and I told him I’d think about it overnight. I did, and I called him the next day and accepted his offer.”

Dr. Herd would not only assume the cost of pre-med and training to become a chiropractor, he would help Sands launch a practice in Camp Hill, Pennsylvania, where the family has deep roots. Sands is an eighth-generation Pennsylvanian whose ancestors fought in the American Revolution. “I love history like I love gardens,” Sands says when this comes up. She was one of seven children of Jack and Barbara Herd. “I grew up in a conservative, faith-filled family where I was always told you can do anything you set your mind to do,” Sands recalls.

“There were no restrictions on our dreams. And when I was a high school girl, I went home after taking an aptitude test, and said to my little sister, ‘When I grow up, I want to be an ambassador.’ Since we lived in a small town in Central Pennsylvania, I didn’t know about the foreign service, or that you could take a test and join it.”

“I have mixed feelings about parents intervening in their children’s academic careers,” Sands admits, “but I think that good advice should always be taken on board, no matter what someone decides. If there is something I could just say to young people, it’s talk to as many subject-matter experts, as many people who will talk to you about your career, your future, and your life as you can. If someone opens a door, you should definitely walk through it, or pick up the phone, or send that email, because we cannot have too many expert advisers.”

Third-generation chiropractor is only one of the many lives of Carla Sands: actress, CEO of a commercial real estate company, philanthropist, and candidate for the U.S. Senate are others. She played the international fashionista, Alex Simpson, on “The Bold and the Beautiful,” a soap opera that attained an almost cult status. When Carla moved on to a role in a movie, “Wild Zone,” also a cult film, Alex had to die.

Sands earned her doctor of chiropractic degree while living in Atlanta, Ga., where she also did some modeling, and lived subsequently in Pennsylvania and New York, where she worked as a chiropractor. Sands moved to Los Angeles, where she established a private practice in Beverly Hills and “ultimately started covering other doctors throughout the state. If they were on vacation, or pregnant, or sick, I’d go in and run their offices.” It was in the late 1990s that she met real estate mogul Fred Sands at an art gallery show in Beverly Hills.

“At that point, I had given up finding the man of my dreams,” Sands tells IWF. “I was going to be a career girl. I’d been engaged a few times and broken off the engagements. When I met him, I told him about this book I was writing, and I gave my card to his date because she was wrapped so tightly around him. I had no idea that I’d ever go out with him, but it was really a business contact—he told me he had the name of a book publisher.” Fred Sands had founded Fred Sand Realtors, a residential real estate firm that opened 65 outlets in California. He later sold it to Coldwell Banker and subsequently then launched two private investment firms—Vintage Capital Group and Vintage real estate—which dealt with commercial property.

Fred Sands and Carla Herd married in 1999, and Carla, who has never been averse to wholeheartedly throwing herself into new adventures, became involved in Vintage Real Estate. The Sands were financial supporters of conservative candidates. “I had been a lifelong Republican,” Carla recalls, “so my husband and I worked hard to help congressmen get elected, senators get elected, and presidential candidates get elected, because we believe in the ideas that the party puts forward—strong families, love of country, love of God, and love of small business. We were a small business family. Even though it was a very thriving company with a very big portfolio; it was a family-owned business.”

Sands has served as an energy and environment expert at the America First Policy Institute since August of 2022.

Carla spotted Donald Trump early and backed him financially. She has served as an economic adviser to Trump. When Fred Sands died in 2015, Carla became chair and CEO of Vintage Capital Group. Trump won in 2016 and shortly thereafter tapped Carla to serve as Ambassador to Denmark—the realization of her schoolgirl dream. Carla doesn’t beat around the bush about how pleased she was. “I was thrilled,” she says. “When you have a dream and it’s realized, it’s a really powerful thing. I think it’s important to write down your dreams, and to think about them, and to move forward and potentially make a plan either mentally or on paper, especially for young career people. It was the honor of my life to serve all the people of the United States and represent them, to safeguard the United States, but also to increase jobs in America, and benefit every single American to the best of my ability.”

Ambassador Sands was able to assist in the re-opening of a U.S. consulate in Greenland and execute trade and cooperation agreements with both Greenland and the Faroe Islands. “Faroe Islands’ leading trading partner by far is Russia,” Sands explains, “and then Greenland, where China was trying to hook them into their belt and road project, financing and trying to build things like airports, and buying our old U.S.-built deep-water ports. Greenland and the Faroe Islands aren’t as close to us as Cuba, but we certainly have strategic concerns.”

Upon learning that she would be awarded the ambassadorship, Sands made the decision to return to her native Pennsylvania. “My husband was Mr. Beverly Hills, and just couldn’t imagine himself moving to the East Coast, but I wanted to be back in Pennsylvania,” she says. “When I moved back from Denmark, I moved to my hometown. I live about a mile-and-a-half from my elderly parents, near my sister and brother.” Sands also has a daughter who is finishing up the requirements for a degree in psychology.

But it was time for another episode in the Many Lives of Carla Sands: Senate candidate. In 2021-2022, Sands ran in the GOP primary for the Pennsylvania seat left open when Republican former Senator Pat Toomey retired. She felt it was something she was supposed to do. Dr. Mehmet Oz, who had the endorsement of former President Trump, won the Republican primary and the rest is history. Sands gives a candid assessment of Senator John Fetterman, the victor. “John Fetterman has spoken out against the Second Amendment and Pennsylvanians are very wedded to the Second Amendment,” she says. “He is a proponent of abortion up until the moment of birth. Most Americans are opposed to that. They believe in a woman’s right to choose, most Americans, but they really don’t like late-term abortion.”

Sounds like somebody might run again? Sands demurs but she is clearly undaunted. “I think you learn more when you fail than when you succeed. So, there are so many lessons learned. Most people don’t win on their first attempt at running. They usually have to run two or three times, because you learn how to do something by doing it, right? That’s the best way to learn anything and I’m a doing learner.” What were some of the lessons?

“During the campaign, I got to see businesses and how industry is being conducted in Pennsylvania,” she says, “and I saw how behind the progress of European countries we are in our manufacturing. I think we’re 20 years behind Europe. We’re not using modern methods. We’re not efficient. President Trump made a lot of progress in this area. Before the pandemic he had added about 750,000 new manufacturing jobs in the U.S. Not just bringing back jobs that had been stalled during the pandemic, but actual new jobs. A lot of towns across our country were hollowed out because jobs and companies went to Asia, often to China, and our manufacturing base has really been decimated. It has to come home. Today middle-class people do not have as much money as they did in the sixties or seventies.”

“When I was a high school girl, I went home after taking an aptitude test, and said to my little sister, ‘When I grow up, I want to be an ambassador,’” Sands recalls. The dream came true in 2017.

Sands has served as an energy and environment expert at the America First Policy Institute since August of 2022. In welcoming Sands to AFPI, CEO Brooke Rollins noted that Sands has a history of “promoting energy independence and standing up against the outsourcing of American energy jobs [that] will be vital to our movement as we work to restore American prosperity, growth, and security.” Sands is particularly concerned about the United States’ reliance on China for the rare earth minerals needed for batteries. “We have Space Force, but Russia and China are very active in space, working to attack our satellites and our critical networks,” she says. “Cutting off our critical minerals is another example of why we need to mine and process our rare-earth minerals in the United States.

“Another disturbing fact is that most of the certain critical minerals we need are coming from the Congo and are mined by child slave labor—that’s an abomination. There’s nothing that should come into this country that comes from slave labor, and that includes Chinese slave labor. I think it’s a moral issue, and I think the reputational damage to companies and individuals who do these things is serious. But secondly, our pharmaceutical supply is largely reliant on products from China and the PRC. All this is controlled by the Chinese Communist Party. If there is a conflict around the world and China and we are drawn in, we must have a supply of drugs that we need for people.

“We must have the critical minerals. We must be able to make steel and all our defense components and offense components. If you look at the news, you can see that our defense industries are still getting many of these components from China. Are you kidding me? Has there not been enough warning about the conflict? When Treasury Secretary Yellen was recently in China meeting with her counterpart, President Xi was meeting with his military saying ‘Prepare for war.’ If your major opponent is saying prepare for war, and he has directly said threatening things about the United States, I think you should take it seriously and make sure you’ve not offshored the things that are necessary, not just for battle but for the well-being of your people. And that includes energy, having a cheap and abundant supply of domestic energy.”

Sands has built a portfolio in economic issues, energy, and diplomacy. What is the next life for Ambassador Sands? Another Senate race? Another diplomatic post? Advising a president? “Whatever I do, I plan to be effective,” she says. “I’m going to work to counter China and Russia, our adversaries. I will work to benefit the people of my state and my country, because really we want the American people to be prosperous and secure.” 

John Fetterman (or his aides) should take note, though it’s by no means clear that Sands intends to confine her aspirations to her beloved home state. We’ll just have to wait to see what will be the next life of Ambassador Sands.