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Watch Shirley Bittlingmeier, Rachael Nava and Paul Williams discuss equity

Thank you to those who joined us for our second Leading Toward Equity session on May 10. Hosted by the Office of Workplace Inclusion & Belonging and Internal Communications, this is a series of unscripted conversations with leaders across UCOP on equity, diversity and inclusion (EDI), and our efforts toward becoming an anti-racist organization.

The Leading Toward Equity series has a central premise: Becoming an anti-racist organization is a journey that will take time and continual effort and there is not a single group or office at UCOP that is solely responsible for advancing a culture of EDI and our journey towards becoming anti-racist.

The May 10 session featured Rachael Nava, executive vice president and chief operating officer and Paul Williams, associate vice president and chief procurement officer. The session was moderated by Shirley Bittlingmeier, executive director, IT Client Services, Information Technology Services (ITS).

Watch the recording here

Session highlights

Paul Williams on his journey as a procurement leader: “I chose a career in procurement from a social commitment to addressing a wealth gap and lack of economic opportunity within diverse communities. As a student, I would badger my family to drive the extra mile to go to the minority-owned grocery store or laundry, etc. I recognized that if you want to drive and create opportunities that help grow economies for diverse communities, the best way to do that is to have a seat at the table when large decisions are being made. Instead of my family’s $60 grocery bill, you can influence million-dollar contracting decisions.”

Paul Williams reflecting on his lived experiences:  “You don’t really realize how much American racism affects you until you are not living in it anymore. I lived in Panama for a while and while I was there, I felt I had 10% more head space because I was not navigating the microaggressions that we have come to accept as the norm.”

Rachael Nava on her journey as an operations leader: “I faced ageism and sexism early in my career. By my mid-30s, I was running a half-billion-dollar organization and was often underestimated because I looked young and didn’t fit the image of who society thought should be doing that. I have spent a lot of time trying to prove myself.”

Rachael Nava reflecting on her behaviors as an anti-racist leader: “I spend a lot of time listening and then using that as an opportunity to question my own bias and think about where I need to grow. Being an ally is an important role for me. I do not want to be a bystander and that is not going to help us be an anti-racist organization. I think it is important for me to allow my leaders to lead and to give them space to have a voice, to be influential in their roles and to influence my thinking, so I am not making decisions in a silo, and I am benefiting from the perspectives of the amazing people around me.”

Our next Leading Toward Equity session will take place in August. Look out for more details soon! For questions, please contact or


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