In Sanlo's early educational career she attended Hebrew school and Jewish youth groups throughout her high school years. She then went to college at the University of North Florida, where she graduated in 1996 from the College of Education with her Doctor of Education (Ed. D.). Her concentration was in Educational Leadership/Organizational Development with a dissertation on "Unheard Voices: The Effects of Silence on Lesbian and Gay Educators (published by Greenwood Press, 1999)". Sanlo continued on and got her Master of Education in the concentration area of Counseling in 1989. She then went to the University of Florida in Gainesville where she got a Bachelor of Music and majored in Music Performance and minored in English.
Sanlo's sexual orientation was cause for the losses of many jobs, but soon she recovered and was hired by the Florida Health Department to be an HIV epidemiologist. From there in 1994 she was hired by the University of Michigan to direct the Lesbian and Gay Programs office. She later added "bisexual" and "transgender" to the office name, created the initial LGBT program standards for the Council for the Advancement of Standards in Higher Education (CAS), and was the founding chair of the Consortium of LGBT Resource Professionals in Higher Education. Three years later Sanlo attained a position at UCLA as their director to the LGBT center and from there she eventually became a professor who created the UCLA Masters of Education in Student Affairs in the Higher Education and Organizational Change (HEOC) division of the UCLA Graduate School of Education. In 2010 she retired from UCLA and went to teach in the Educational Leadership program at California State University Fullerton for a consecutive two years. In present day she directs the operation of her publishing companies, Purple Books Publishing and Purple Distinctions.
This film was released in 2014 and stars Meredith Baxter, and Ronni Sanlo. It premiered at the Los Angeles LGBT film festival, Outfest, in 2014. The film's context shows Ronni Sanlo and her struggle between Anita Bryant's Anti-Gay Campaign, "Save Our Children." Bryant helped overturn a Dade County Ordinance; which outlawed the discrimination against gays. This resulted in Ronni Sanlo losing custody of her children. The film also displays her fight to support people with HIV/AIDS and her fight for Gay Civil Rights in the midst of her losing her children. Lastly, Letter to Anita shows the "backdrop of the broader gay civil rights movement.".
Letter To Anita won the Audience Award: Best Documentary Feature and Jury Award: Runner Up for Best Documentary Feature at the 25th Annual Tampa International Gay & Lesbian Film Festival.
Sanlo has authored several books and articles on the topic of gender identity and sexual orientation in higher education.
Sanlo, Ronni L. Unheard Voices: The Effects of Silence on Lesbian and Gay Educators. J F Bergin & Garvey, 1999. Print.
Sanlo, Ronni L., ed, Rankin, ed., Schoenberg, ed. Our Place on Campus: Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender Services and Programs in Higher Education. Greenwood, 2002. Print.
Sanlo, Ronni L., ed. Gender Identity and Sexual Orientation: Research, Policy, and Personal Perspectives: New Directions for Student Services, Number 111. 1 edition. San Francisco, Calif.: Jossey-Bass, 2005. Print.
Sanlo, Ronni. Lesbian, Gay, and Bisexual College Students: Risk, Resiliency, and Retention. Journal of College Student Retention: Research, Theory and Practice, 6, 2004. Print.
Sanlo, Ronni L. The Purple Golf Cart: The Misadventures of a Lesbian Grandma. Palm Desert, CA: Purple Books Publishing, 2013. Print.
Sanlo is widely recognized as instituting the first "Lavender Graduation" ceremony at the University of Michigan in 1995, a commencement tradition that is now included in most universities across the United States. By 2001, there were over 45 Lavender Graduations at colleges and universities nationwide. The commencement takes place to acknowledge and honor lesbian, gay, transgender, bisexual and ally students and their contributions to the university. Lavender Graduation allows for LGBT students (all races and ethnicities) recognition within the university. The event honors their achievements, success and leadership in the university as a LGBT student and allows for pride and recognition of their identity. The ceremony also is not only for LGBT students, it is open to anyone supportive of the LGBT community.