Cumberland Valley grad serving US overseas as Denmark ambassador

Carlisle/West Shore

“It was a pinch-me moment,” Carla Sands said with a smile as she recalled the ceremony where she officially presented her credentials to the queen.

“In my wildest dreams, I never expected to ride in an 18th-century carriage with white horses in front of me to meet her majesty the queen,” Sands said.

Meeting Queen Margrethe II of Denmark, appointed ambassador by President Donald Trump, those are just two of the career highlights for Sands.

“An ambassador represents the U.S. president and the American people with our great allies the Danes,” she said enthusiastically during a recent interview via Skype.

Denmark is a beautiful seaside Scandanavian country of about six million people. It’s dotted with colorful, tidy homes and its standard of living is among the highest in the world. It’s also the birthplace of fairytale writer Hans Christian Anderson, which makes it perfect for Carla Sands who seems to be living out hers.

Carla starred in a few B-movies in the late 1980’s. In 1987, she was an original cast member of “The Bold and the Beautiful”, a soap opera. She was a model. She dated John Wayne’s son and, once upon a time, she was Carla Herd, Cumberland Valley High School student and Hampden Township resident.

“It was an excellent education,” Sands said of her time at CV.

If her yearbook is any indication, Carla was a multi-tasker: art club, ski club, aquatics club, history club, pep club, student council, prom committee, and  more. Carla Herd was active and she distinctly remembers a career assessment aptitude test she took her sophomore year.

“Mine showed very high aptitude for diplomacy. I got home and told my little sister I wanted to be an ambassador and that was a lifelong dream,” Sands recalled.

“That’s Ambassador Sands here,” said Jack Herd as he pointed to a picture of his daughter hanging in his Camp Hill chiropractic office.

Carla’s first career was actually as a chiropractor. That’s before the modeling and before the acting. She lived in Atlanta and New York and finally Los Angeles. That’s where she met and married Fred Sands, a real estate mogul in southern California who passed away three years ago. Carla inherited and now runs the company. 

She also dabbled in Republican politics and contributed mightily to GOP candidates. She held a fundraiser for candidate Donald Trump at her Bel Air mansion and gave $100,000 to his inauguration, though The Donald, Jack will tell you, was not The Favorite at first.

“She had Ted Cruz to the house earlier and raised a lot of money for him there, and when he dropped out, she was asked to have Trump there,” Herd said. “I think that was a stress point there, but she fell in love with the (Trump) family. She loves the family.”

And her own, most of whom live in the area. Thanksgivings are spent in the Midstate and despite the globe trotting, Carla never forgets her roots.

“The people that come from that region are hard-working people with a great work ethic and I consider them to be salt of the earth,” Sands said.

From Cumberland Valley to Copenhagen,  it’s been a circuitous and occassionally horse-drawn journey for Cinderell — rather Carla. Being the Danish Ambassador is her happily ever after.

“It fulfilled that dream and that goal and that’s the greatest honor of my lifetime,” Sands said.

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