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President Napolitano shares Executive Office staffing updates

The following message is from President Janet Napolitano:

I write to update you about staffing changes I am making within my Executive Office. As you know, Rachael Nava has served as my chief of staff since November 2017 while retaining her executive vice president/chief operating officer duties. Rachael has performed both roles with great capability, grace and a can-do attitude. With all of the recent activity related to the management of the coronavirus situation, the final implementation of UCPath, stabilization of the Redwood project, and many other high-priority projects, effective April 1, 2020, Rachael will return to her COO role full-time to focus on those pressing needs. I’d like to sincerely thank Rachael for her leadership, hard work and dedication in service to me, the UCOP team and UC as a whole over these last two and a half years.

To support me through the remainder of my presidency, I have asked Jenny Kao to serve as my chief of staff. Jenny will retain her chief policy advisor role while serving in this new capacity. Jenny has been with UC almost her entire career and this year will mark her 20th anniversary at UCOP. She has served five presidents during her tenure at UC.

Before becoming chief policy advisor to the president, Jenny served as both chief of staff for Public Affairs and founding executive director for Issues Management, Policy Analysis and Coordination (IMPAC). In this dual role, she developed external messaging and strategy to execute UC’s top policy initiatives and priorities. Prior to this role, Jenny co-led UC’s State Governmental Relations office in Sacramento, advocating for UC’s priorities with the governor and legislature. She has also served as deputy to the executive vice president for External Relations and special assistant to two prior UC presidents. Before coming to UCOP, she worked as the higher education policy analyst for former Governor Gray Davis from 1999-2000. She began her career in higher education in undergraduate admissions policy and student athletics at UC Berkeley.

Jenny earned her B.A. degree (with honors) in American history from UC Berkeley, with a minor degree in French literature. She holds a master’s degree in public affairs from Princeton University.

As part of this transition, Zoanne Nelson will return to her position in the COO Division as chief strategy officer and associate vice president, Strategy and Program Management. Since November 2017, Zoanne has been a huge asset to my Executive Office and has provided me and other OP leaders with key strategic advice on the OP budget, strategic planning and a myriad of other complex issues, while deftly managing the Strategy and Program Management Office team and OP Operations. Zoanne will continue to work closely with Jenny, me and all of you, and I thank her for her immense service and commitment.na

I am grateful for Rachael’s and Zoanne’s tremendous leadership and I am extremely thankful for Jenny’s willingness to step into this role to see me through the end of my presidency. Please join me in congratulating Jenny on her appointment.

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Comments ( 2 )

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  1. Alina Tejera March 17, 2020 Reply

    Congratulations Jenny! So well deserved.

  2. Lena Zentall March 17, 2020 Reply

    Congratulations, Jenny!!!

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