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Women’s development program provides career support across UC

After two highly successful years as a pilot program, the Systemwide UC Women’s Initiative for Professional Development (UC WI) has expanded and is now a regular offering for women’s professional development across UC. The first north and south cohorts of 2018 graduated on March 21.

Supported by President Napolitano, UC WI was developed in partnership with the Systemwide Advisory Committee on the Status of Women (SACSW)Systemwide Talent Management and Coro Northern California and is designed to elevate women in their careers and create a pipeline and network of women who can contribute to one another’s and UC’s future success. Participants have the opportunity to meet with and learn from top UC leaders and to strengthen critical professional skills through hands-on, interactive sessions. The program has steadily increased in size and scope as participants have confirmed its value, and credited it with real advances in their careers.

“I am very excited about the success and growth of the UC WI, as the roots of the program stem from members of SACSW emphasizing the need to specifically focus on women’s professional development within the UC System, and to do so through a broad UC system initiative,” said Elizabeth Ozer, chair of SACSW and professor of Pediatrics, UC San Francisco.

Jennifer Radke, a chief administrative officer at UC Davis, was excited to be a member of the first cohort. “One of our first tasks was to identify a sponsor – someone who could connect us to people who could help us grow in our careers. That was a really exciting idea for me, and my relationship with my sponsor continues to be valuable personally and professionally.”

Participants consistently praised the opportunity to connect with and learn from people across the system, in both academic and administrative roles. “I was surprised by just how similar our challenges are,” said Flavia Pirih, associate professor and director of the Pre-doctoral Program in the Section of Periodontics at UCLA School of Dentistry, and a graduate of the most recent cohort. “I know I’ll be able to reach out to members of my cohort after graduation to get support and talk through ideas.”

Larisa Kure, associate dean for Administration and Finance at the UCSF School of Dentistry, and a 2017 graduate, agreed. “You suddenly realize you’re not alone.” Kure has recommended the program to others, including a colleague who graduated with the most recent cohort. “This program has so much value – as women develop more confidence in their professional skills, they’re open to all of the possibilities for their careers at UC.”

The program is open to women across the UC system in staff, faculty or academic personnel roles, who are mid-career and have demonstrated potential for advancement. From its beginning in 2016 through the March graduating class, 135 women have completed UC WI, representing an almost even split between academic and staff roles and over 50 percent women of color. In 2018, six regional cohorts of 30 women per cohort, a total of 180 women, will participate in the program. Each cohort will be led by a UC Facilitator and a Coro Northern California facilitator. UC Facilitators are graduates of UC WI and bring their past program experience and UC perspective to the program.

Donna Salvo, executive director of Systemwide Talent Management and one of the program sponsors, is continually struck by how much the participants grow in each cohort. “From the first cohort in 2016, the impact of the program was clear after seeing the change in participants’ confidence from the first session to the final session, and the strength of the connections made within each cohort. UC WI is unique in that it includes women from all locations across academic and staff positions and, in addition to providing professional development, helps them broaden their network across UC. This is not only valuable to the individual, but also valuable to the university. I am pleased to see the diversity represented and shared by these women: ethnicity, age, education, experience and background. Each of them brings all of this to the program, and it adds so many more layers to their learning and UC WI experience.”

Participants for next year’s program will be selected this fall, through the nomination process defined by each location. Women who are interested are encouraged to talk with their dean, manager or supervisor, and to reach out to their local Human Resources office or Academic Personnel office for more information about the nomination process at their location. More information can also be found here.

2018 UC Facilitators


  • Amani Neru-Jeter, Berkeley, Associate Professor, Divisions of Community Health Sciences and Epidemiology, School of Public Health
  • Bridget Haverty, Berkeley Lab, Contract Assurance Program Manager
  • Rosa Plaza, Santa Cruz, Director of Orientation


  • Elaine Wong, Riverside, Associate Dean for the Undergraduate Business Program; Associate Professor of Management
  • Kathleen Canul, Los Angeles, Director of Ombuds Services
  • Nina Bandelj, Irvine, Professor of Sociology, Equity Advisor to Dean of Social Sciences

UC WI Program Managers

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