How did your career at Cal begin and how has it progressed since then?
My career at Cal began in 2006, here at the Graduate School of Journalism. I started as a Student Services Coordinator. Previously I worked at Columbia University as an Administrative Assistant and Program Coordinator for the Writing Division, in the School of the Arts. So I brought that experience here, and was hired on as the Coordinator. Over the last 10 years, my position at the Journalism Department has progressed to take on more responsibilities. I’ve really had a chance to grow.
What are some things that you enjoy about working at Cal?
I have to say, I really enjoy working with the students. They all have so many great ideas, and so much energy, and are really kind to one another. And it’s nice to create an environment for them in which they can excel, and do their best work. Part of how I support their efforts is to make administrative work not seem stressful, so they can really lean into the reporting work that they have to do. I like being on campus, I like being in this old building, North Gate Hall. And I really like being part of the education mission of Cal.
I know that you were part of the Catalyst leadership development program on campus, which was centered around the 5 operating principles. First of all, why did you decide to apply to the Catalyst program?
I feel like we get a lot of messages from administration on many important topics, and what I try and look for are trends for what is coming. When the Catalyst ask came out, it was so fascinating that they were going to offer learning labs to staff. I thought that was a pretty neat initiative, and wanted to be part of it. So I tried to write a very simple, cheeky application using all the principles in it, sent it off, and then, talked to my supervisor about it. She said, “if you get picked, you can do it”. I had not really engaged in much of the professional development on campus. The Catalyst program seemed like a great hands on way to gain experience, new skills, and build a strong campus network.
Now that you have completed that program over a year ago, looking back, what has the impact been on your professional development?
The Catalyst program impact has been phenomenal. Even though I continued on with my work at Graduate School of Journalism, and it may seem like on the outside there has not been much change, on the inside I had a real awakening as a professional. First, I discovered my love of facilitation, and I have pursued every training avenue possibly offered by campus. I joined the Berkeley Facilitator Network Coordinating Committee, I completed the “Building Consensus” facilitator’s workshop with Sam Kaner’s people, I completed the multi-cultural education certificate program on understanding implicit bias, gaining cultural competencies. I also conducted an interview with an author who was part of the NOW conference (Next Opportunity at Work). To me that was an opportunity to do some public speaking, which I realized at Catalyst I also like to do, but it’s really hard for me. So that was a great opportunity and challenge to take on. I have just kept this facilitator’s lens on all the various opportunities that come through, and have been trying to engage with it. Then I practice, practice, practice all the time here with the students, which is also a really great environment. We just ran our commencement practice yesterday. One thing I like to do at different points of the practice is get them to connect with each other during these last few days. There is one point in practice when I have them circle up by standing shoulder to shoulder and have them shout out the names of all their friends and family who are attending graduation. I think they really appreciate the chance to pause, reflect and have fun.
You mentioned the Berkeley Facilitator’s Network. Can you tell me more about that?
The Berkeley Facilitator’s Network is a group of campus colleagues who have an interest in, or have been trained in, facilitation. The coordinating committee, run by 2 co-chairs Andrea Lambert and Bene’ Gatzert and the committee, come up with events to run once a month around facilitation. So, for example, the next one coming up on Thursday, that I happen to be the lead for, is on Audience Engagement. And that will be run by Rajelin Escondo out of the Student Public Service Office. So many campus professionals already have knowledge about facilitation, and bringing them together for an hour and half is a great way to share best practices. For example, we had one person come and do intentional icebreakers. He would run the icebreakers, and then he would debrief how we would run it, like the challenges and highlights of how this could possibly go for you. At BFN, you get the experience, and you also get the training on how to run the experience. What’s really interesting to me, is that I think the network is well over 200 people, and every month we get 40 or 50 people who attend, and it’s always a different rotation of folks. So it is the best departmental cross-over experience that I’ve had – since the Catalyst program.
What are some of your current growing edges now, or that are on the horizon for you and your professional development?
I’ve always sort of thought about my career regarding its state of cultivating a certain level of happiness and joy. The discovery of facilitation has been a really great learning place for me – I continue to lean in there. For example, I have volunteered to be a part of the sexual assault / sexual harassment facilitation team of staff and students, so we can run our own training at orientation. I’m also really interested in project management, and working with groups of people who either need to move the needle on a project, or get things done. I feel like I’m always using that lens here at the J School. For example, we have a really great curriculum and it’s constantly changing, as you can imagine, because the field of journalism over the past ten years has been in a constant state of upheaval. To build cohesion in our community, I’m always looking out and thinking – where are the people trying to get together, and how can I pull them together. So those are places where I’m pushing myself here at the J School currently. And I’m always looking for opportunities to find small working groups across campus to participate in. I’m also co-secretary for the Berkeley Staff Assembly.
Finally, what advice would you give to new staff on campus, or simply staff who are looking to develop their careers at UC Berkeley?
I think that the best thing you can do is to engage with the Communities of Practice. There are so many, and they are loosely connected, and once you get into one or two, you’re suddenly connected to all these new people. And I think that because Berkeley staff can feel siloed, the communities of practice are a great avenue to explore for connection. I love my job here at the J School, but I also know that I’m part of something bigger than just our department. For more information on all our Communities of Practice: http://stafforg.berkeley.edu/organizations/communities-practice