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Staff affinity group spotlight: PACSW

This Thursday, March 28, UCOP’s President’s Advisory Committee on the Status of Women (PACSW) will host Sherwynn Umali as a part of its Women We Admire series. The UC Irvine interim assistant vice chancellor and chief of staff for student affairs will talk about her work around UC, as well as the challenge of balancing her time between her duties at UC, being a mother of two children and managing freelance graphic design, photography and consulting work.

What is PACSW?

The Women We Admire series is one of many projects sponsored by PACSW. PACSW was founded in March 2008 to promote women’s access to programs, opportunities and activities at UCOP. The group’s mission includes a call to “examine issues regarding the status of women at UCOP… and advance an agenda to improve the climate and opportunities for women at UCOP.”

Kathleen Erwin, co-treasurer of PACSW and director of UC Research Initiatives, first learned about PACSW through the Women We Admire series. Erwin was excited to volunteer for a group that focused on promoting women in leadership and would also enhance her networks and friendships across UCOP.

“I knew and admired some UCOP colleagues who were founding PACSW members, so I knew it was a committed, dynamic group,” she says.

What does PACSW do?

PACSW hosts many events throughout the year to highlight women in leadership and provide resources for women’s career advancement. These include:

  • Women We Admire: A speaker series that invites women from around UC to share insights about their careers, workplace challenges and work-life balance.
  • Promoting Health & Wellness: PACSW’s Health & Wellness Subcommittee provides holistic support to women in their professional and personal lives. (UCSF professor Peggy Reynolds, Ph.D., spoke at the most recent event.)
  • Making Power Moves: Returning Fall 2019, this professional development course provides women with practical information to help with career advancement.

“PACSW has and continues to be a very active and vocal group committed to improving the climate for women at OP,” says Shirley Bittlingmeier, client services officer and PACSW chair. “I have had the opportunity to network with women I would not ordinarily have an opportunity to work with, and that has been very rewarding for me.”

Bittlingmeier, who was involved with PACSW for two years as a member and then elected chair last year, says her passion for women’s leadership development is informed by her experience being underrepresented in IT. She is particularly excited to support the Leading with Diversity report of the 2018 UC-CORO Systemwide Leadership Collaborative/Northern California Cohort.

“The findings and recommendations of the report give us a starting point to bring awareness of the actions we can take to increase diversity and inclusion at every level, which aligns with the work we do in PACSW,” Bittlingmeier says.

How can I get involved?

Bittlingmeier explains that PACSW relies on volunteer members, like Erwin, to advance its mission. Any staff member is invited to apply during the recruitment period, which begins in April. PACSW requires attendance at its monthly meetings, which is held on the fourth Tuesday of every month from 12-1 p.m., as well as active participation on one of its committees. Interested staff can find information on applying for membership on the PACSW website beginning April 1 (

“Participating in PACSW has been a wonderful opportunity to meet people I would not otherwise interact with in my daily work, to identify common goals, and to enhance our work climate,” Erwin says.

She recalls how PACSW handed out flowers to employees by the elevators for International Women’s Day. “Everyone had a moment to celebrate together, share a smile, and connect in a positive way.  I think all our OP affinity groups offer those same benefits,” she says.

Learn about all the other UCOP staff affinity groups making UC a great place to work here.

For more information about getting involved with PACSW, contact the Membership Committee at

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