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2020-21 Candidates

2020-21 Staff Assembly Candidate Profiles and Bios

The candidates for the 2020-21 board are listed below. The tabs below list each board positions and the candidates running for them. Candidates are listed in random order.

Jeff Girod

Jeff Girod

Incumbent Director of Marketing and Communications
Director of Marketing and Communications
CHASS Dean's Office

Why are you running for a position on the Staff Assembly Board?

I have had the privilege to serve on the Staff Assembly Executive Board for 2 years, serving as both the Director of Fundraising and the Director of Marketing & Communications.

In my roles, I have advocated for our UCR staff on search committees, longterm planning committees and task forces. I have also found ways to streamline processes, expand events, improve communications, strengthen campus relationships and even build new revenue streams that help fund our staff programs and emergency assistance.

With your vote and if elected, I will leverage my experience, knowledge and existing relationships with faculty, students and executive leadership to strongly advocate for all of our current staff and to encourage additional staffing.

I will also do my best to ensure any discussions about UCR's future ask one fundamental question: "How does this impact UCR staff?"

If elected, what are your plans for the position(s) for which you are running?

The fallout from the #COVID-19 pandemic affects all of us and will continue to have a profound effect on UC Riverside. The next few years might be the most critical in UCR's six-plus decades.

As budgets, funding and staffing are discussed, I want to be a voice in the room strongly advocating for UCR staff. I also want to find ways to support our employees impacted by COVID-19.

Recent campus climate surveys have noted significant issues with trust and collaboration. As Staff Assembly VP/President Elect I will do my best to continue to develop healthy working relationships between staff, faculty, UCR students and executive leadership.

What do you think Staff Assembly needs to focus on in the upcoming academic year?

There are so many unknowns right now but I can imagine future discussions might include staff medical benefits, family medical leave, sufficient technology for working remotely, nontraditional work schedules, staff safety, mental health, compensation, hiring, retention and professional development.

Before this crisis, UCR was also working on a long-term development plan with expectations of significant growth. I want to be sure that any new growth includes the appropriate funding, support (and physical space) for staff.

Biography

I have worked at UC Riverside since 2008 and I have made it a personal priority to find more ways to give back to a community that I cherish. This isn't just a job for me. I live 4 miles from UCR with my wife and two sons. I choose to live here and I hope to retire here, because I love Riverside, our people and what we stand for.

In addition to serving on UCR's Staff Assembly for the last 2 years, I also lead a group of 50-100 people who volunteer at Feeding America in Riverside as part of our annual Highlander Day of Service. I am a volunteer tour guide at the Mission Inn in downtown Riverside. I'm a member of a local Toastmasters club that meets Tuesdays at SchoolsFirst Credit Union. I coach youth soccer, basketball and Little League. I serve on the city's Municipal Advisory Council for the unincorporated area of Highgrove. I also serve as a member of the Champions Council for Nothing But Nets, a grassroots international organization operated by the United Nations that provides insecticide-treated bed nets to countries hit hardest by malaria in sub-Saharan Africa and South America.

I do these things because I love my community and the people who live here, and I think we all have an obligation to find ways to give back and support each other, especially to help those who need our help most and might not be able to advocate for themselves.

I'm also a two-time graduate of the University of California, and an alum of UC Riverside. I truly believe UC is the finest public university in the world. Every day I come to work is a day I get to help change the world for the better through our research, teaching and public service.

Loretta Vandivier

Loretta Vandivier

Marketing & Communication Specialist

Facilities Services

Why are you running for a position on the Staff Assembly Board?

After being at UCR for almost five years, I see the impact and value of Staff Assembly on the campus community. It is important for staff to be represented on campus, and I look forward to being involved in helping to make a difference for my colleagues.

If elected, what are your plans for the position(s) for which you are running?

If elected, I would like to bring my experience in Marketing and Communications to help Staff Assembly connect with the campus community through web, digital, and social media platforms.

What do you think Staff Assembly needs to focus on in the upcoming academic year?

UC Riverside is facing a unique set of circumstances for the upcoming academic year. While we all adjust to a new working environment, it is essential for UCR staff members remain involved and engaged. To assist with the changing campus environment, it is important for Staff Assembly to continue focusing on staff support and building a strong campus community.

Biography

My name is Loretta Vandivier and I am the Marketing and Communication Specialist for Facilities Services. I have been at UCR for almost five years and have also held positions in SAMC and UCPath. Aside from working at UCR, I have worked as a copywriter and technical writer for companies such as Nordstrom and Guess. I graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in Business Administration in 2008 from CSU San Bernardino and received my Master of Arts in Public Relations from Cal Baptist University in 2014.

Brianna Morales

Brianna Morales

Financial, Administrative & Front Desk Coordinator
Career Center

Why are you running for a position on the Staff Assembly Board?

I am running for a position on the Staff Assembly Board because I believe in what is stands for. Staff Assembly gives the UCR staff a voice that demands to be heard. The previous and current staff assembly board members inspire me to not only stand up for myself, but to stand up for others when needed. I have had the pleasure to befriend a few members and I would be honored to work along side them and continue the great work that they've been doing.

If elected, what are your plans for the position(s) for which you are running?

I plan to help make recognition of fellow coworkers to become a "norm." The current director has done a fantastic job of creating an inclusive process and I would only like to make it better. In addition, I'd also like to recruit staff to become more involved in Staff Assembly.

What do you think Staff Assembly needs to focus on in the upcoming academic year?

I believe at Staff Assembly needs to continue to focus on the wellbeing of our UCR staff. We have a great start with the results of the staff survey and now with that knowledge we can create a healthy environment for everyone.

Biography

I have worked at UCR for 2 years. I am a mom of two beautiful boys. I love to spend time with my family, hosting parties and dancing.

Christine Zepeda

Christine Zepeda

Cash Office Assistant
Auxiliary Budget & Finance

Why are you running for a position on the Staff Assembly Board?

Simply put, I was nominated.

If elected, what are your plans for the position(s) for which you are running?

I have always liked hosting and planning events.

What do you think Staff Assembly needs to focus on in the upcoming academic year?

I would like to see a focus on Healthy Living and Eating. Offering cooking classes or weekly menus for Staff.

Biography

My name if Christine Zepeda, I work in our Cash Office for 2 1/2 years now. I love watching the University grow and seeing the diversity we have on campus. The amount of events for Staff is amazing. I want to involve myself in activities that will do good for my fellow co-workers as well as students.


Ashley Demshki
Valerie Batlle

Co-Director Valerie Batlle

Incumbent Director of Events
Cooking Program Coordinator / Demonstration Chef
Recreation

Co-Director Ashley Demshki

Outreach Coordinator
Recreation

Why are you running for a position on the Staff Assembly Board?

I am running as co-chair for director of events to help create a welcoming and fun environment where all of our staff feel appreciated and want to participate. As a member of the events committee for the past two years, I feel I have learned a lot and I am ready to take on a bigger role within Staff Assembly. Prior to coming to UCR, I worked within an event planning capacity and really enjoyed helping bring a vision to life that benefited the community as a whole. I am hoping to bring that say enthusiasm to our campus.

If elected, what are your plans for the position(s) for which you are running?

If elected, I plan to create more opportunities for staff to meet and get together. While we put a lot of focus on the holiday party, there are so many other opportunities to engage staff members. Those include:

  • Monthly socials at the new Barn
  • Utilize other departments for informal events like botanic garden hike, fitness class, etc
  • Quarterly sunrise (8am/beginning of work day) yoga/stretch series
What do you think Staff Assembly needs to focus on in the upcoming academic year?

With COVID-19 so fresh in everyone's minds, Staff Assembly will need to focus on really building a community since we have been apart. I believe Staff Assembly will be a driving force in defining how we understand "community" this upcoming academic year. Since we have all been apart for spring, Staff Assembly has the opportunity to engage staff members to either bring them all together (if we are back on campus) or provide virtual support.

Biography

Ashley Demshki serves as the outreach coordinator at the University of California, Riverside Recreation Department. She received her B.A. in public relations and advertising from Chapman University in Orange, California. Previously, Ashley worked with numerous nonprofit and government agencies to help empower community organizations and the members they serve. She is passionate about student development and how recreation contributes to academic, physical and social success.

Mary Ann Gochicoa

MaryAnn Gochicoa

Incumbent Director of Fundraising
Executive Assistant
Auxiliary Services

Why are you running for a position on the Staff Assembly Board?

I enjoyed this last term and would like to keep the position for another year. I think the first year is getting acquainted with the board. I believe the next year will show how I can more of an asset to my colleagues.

If elected, what are your plans for the position(s) for which you are running?

I started the Virtual 5k this past year but unfortunately, due to COVID the original plan had to be changed. This year, I would like to go over the lessons learned and improve on the 5k to be bigger and better.

What do you think Staff Assembly needs to focus on in the upcoming academic year?

Assisting employees through COVID and return to work. The world has changed so we'll need to figure out how to navigate and support each other through this time.

Biography

Arrived at UCR as an Executive Assistant to Associate Vice Chancellor, Andy Plumley in Auxiliary Services, April 2017.

The previous 10 years, I worked as an executive assistant/project analyst for SCE.

Studied for my BA at the University of La Verne.

Katherine Van Horn

Katherine Van Horn

Incumbent Co-Director of Involvement & Recognition
Graduate Student Services Advisor
CNAS GSAC

Why are you running for a position on the Staff Assembly Board?

I've been a part of Staff Assembly Executive Board for 2 years running and I have never felt like I was a part of something so important before.  The work that the board does to improve the staff experience on and off campus is essential to keeping the moral high, but it also works hard for fair and equal say on campus.  I hope to continue to work with staff from all departments to make sure that they are heard and respected.

If elected, what are your plans for the position(s) for which you are running?

These are difficult times, and outreach is more important than ever.  The seclusion of working from home can be overwhelming, and it is important that all staff members know that there is a large group of people just waiting to support them rather it be through scholarships, information sharing, or fun activities.

What do you think Staff Assembly needs to focus on in the upcoming academic year?

Staff Assembly needs to focus on advocating for and helping staff as we deal with difficult financial decisions on campus.  Staff should not be sacrificed in order to keep budgets low.

Biography

I've been at UCR for almost 4 years and a part of Staff Assembly Executive board for 2, first as the Co-Director of Outreach and then as the Co-Director of Involvement and Recognition.

 

Jorge Ruelas

Jorge Ruelas

Executive Assistant
Chancellor's Office

Why are you running for a position on the Staff Assembly Board?

I'm running for Director of Outreach so that I can connect more of the campus together and facilitate meaningful involvement in campus affairs.

If elected, what are your plans for the position(s) for which you are running?

If elected as Director of Outreach, I would work towards establishing a sense of togetherness and pride of belonging in all levels and circles of staff, instilling confidence and inspiring future leaders to begin making a difference now, and setting the environment for the next generation of staff to thrive.

What do you think Staff Assembly needs to focus on in the upcoming academic year?

Because I believe that the University can't rise higher than its aspirations unless the staff is leading the way, I think it's important for Staff Assembly to be that driving force who supports, encourages, and advocates for staff and their extended families.

Biography

I graduated from high school in Pomona, CA, and went on to become an administrator in the US Marines.  From 2001 until being honorably discharged in 2013, I spent my career serving directly for senior leadership of all levels.  I successfully graduated from multiple leadership academies that were as much about personal and professional development as they were about leadership and intelligent problem-solving.

Aside from military training, I received a Bachelor's Degree in Business Administration to develop a deeper understanding of public administration and business management.  With my unique experience, coupled with my empathetic personality, I was able to apply the knowledge I gained from my degree into my professional work to become more a more versatile and capable leader.

Agam Patel

Agam Patel

Associate Director
CHASS / Palm Desert Center

Why are you running for a position on the Staff Assembly Board?

At a critical time like this, it is even more important to get staff representation, and Staff Assembly is the best place to engage, debate and grow.

If elected, what are your plans for the position(s) for which you are running?

Work with HR, staff and the various SA committees to ensure relevant, timely and dynamic professional development opportunities are being offered to all staff at UCR. This may also mean tapping into other staff across sister campuses who may have best practices to share such as working in multi-disciplinary departments.

What do you think Staff Assembly needs to focus on in the upcoming academic year?

Staff budget, recruitment (the fact that we have poor faculty:staff ratio), morale and passion. Without the passion, dedication and discipline, i don't think anyone can achieve what they'd like to accomplish; whether that is personal or professional.

Biography

Agam Patel is the Associate Director at the University of California, Riverside- Palm Desert Center. He is responsible for program policy, financial and budget management, student recruitment / marketing, student services, staff management, strategy, and graduate program design. Agam was born in Kenya and attended schools in the United Kingdom and the United States. In 2008, He was recruited as a volunteer for Lotus Outreach International, a non-profit that provides outreach and advocacy to vulnerable women and children living in poverty. He has contributed to various committees within, including serving in the Executive Committee for over five years.

 

Andrea Hidalgo

Andrea Hidalgo

Sculpture Lab & Painting/Drawing Lab Supervisor, Staff Research Associate III
Art

Why are you running for a position on the Staff Assembly Board?

UCR offers many professional development opportunities and it is a great way for staff to invest in themselves and the UCR community. I have benefited from the Staff Assembly Scholarship Program and various training resources at UCR, from Environmental Health & Safety Training Courses and certificates, Franklin Covey classes, to LinkedIn Learning, etc, These resources helped me learn new skills, making me a uniquely qualified and high potential employee.

I am running for the position of Director of Professional Development. I feel grateful for the opportunities and support that UCR and the Staff Assembly have granted me in the past.  I would like to advance the development of the Staff Assembly's Professional Development program to contribute towards the success of other staff members and the UCR community.

If elected, what are your plans for the position(s) for which you are running?

If elected, I will work with Staff Assembly committees to ensure that Staff Assembly Professional Development is accessible, outreach is increased, and that other forms of professional development are promoted for staff working within very specific fields. I will also work on ensuring that the application process for the Professional Development Scholarship Program is as organized and transparent as possible.

What do you think Staff Assembly needs to focus on in the upcoming academic year?

With the impact of Covid-19, Staff Assembly should focus on identifying and promoting alternative ways of staff engagement, receiving feedback from staff as to what their current needs are, and providing alternative professional development opportunities. What are successful ways that staff is connecting and how can we expand that? What type of support does staff need from the Staff Assembly right now, and how can we collect that data quickly? In the wake of Covid-19, is there a collective action that we as staff can do to develop the Staff Assembly Assistance Program? Also, what types of professional development do staff need to meet the new challenges of remote working and to prepare for returning to campus? How can our collective understanding of the impact of our peers encourage us to focus on the career, emotional, and social success of the many?

Biography

My name is Andrea Hidalgo and I am the Sculpture Lab & Painting/Drawing Lab Supervisor for UCR's Department of Art. In a nutshell, I am a teaching artist and I manage two of the Art Department's facilities, mentor students, and teach woodworking, metalworking, ceramics, mold making, and casting, etc.  Next month I will hit my six-year work anniversary with UCR! The best part of my job is the students. I love being a part of students learning about what art can be and helping them figure out how to fabricate. It is an honor to meet so many students and learn about the diverse ideas that they find important to create. I am very involved in promoting inclusive and safe spaces for students to promote creativity and engagement. I am very proud of being a part of a work culture and group of staff that truly care about the wellbeing and success of students. I am the Local Vice President and steward of UPTE-CWA, a democratic and member-run union, in which I am dedicated to standing with staff to protect and improve the rights of all UC employees, promote diversity and oppose discrimination, and represent employees who face concerns on the job. Most favorably, I organize a monthly Casual Staff Lunch for fellow art and art history colleagues to get together to socialize, which due to Covid-19 campus closure, has now morphed into a monthly after-hours Casual Staff Drinks.

 

Stanyan Buckingham

Stanyan Buckingham

Development Coordinator
School of Business

Why are you running for a position on the Staff Assembly Board?

I am running for Staff Assembly because I believe that this group has the power to affect meaningful change and bring great value to the campus community.  Supporting and shaping the community that has shaped and supported me is an intrinsic part of my character.  Our campus is a vibrant community of diverse individuals working together to provide educational opportunities for so many. I want to position myself to give back to our campus community by offering support to the many individuals who call our campus home.

If elected, what are your plans for the position(s) for which you are running?

I plan to utilize this position to provide meaningful educational and developmental opportunities for the different individuals and units on campus.  My focus would be on increasing the number of opportunities individuals have to develop skills and abilities that will not only increase efficiency within their current position but also expand the scope of their skillset better equipping them for upward mobility.  Providing opportunities that are relevant, meaningful and have the capacity to empower individuals and units on campus. I would focus on professional development that is engaging, equitable and empowering.

Engaging: Professional development that actively engages participants through the utilization of different learning styles, so individuals who learn best through visual, auditory, kinesthetic, or reading and writing find value in the material presented.

Equitable: Education has long stood as a great equalizer and I would strive to provide development opportunities that are accessible and of value to the many diverse populations represented within the UCR staff community.

Empowering: Opportunities should empower and propel individuals towards heightened efficiency in their current role as well as offer the skills they need to advance.

What do you think Staff Assembly needs to focus on in the upcoming academic year?

As our campus navigates the challenges brought on by COVID-19 the need to invest in our staff and campus community is paramount.  I believe that our campus needs to focus on retaining staff and equipping them for upward mobility.  We are sure to face challenges regarding our overall budget and how this will impact our campus, but through the resolve of our dedicated staff UCR will continue to thrive.  Initiatives that can be implemented through many different mediums, whether that be virtual or in-person, will need to be carefully considered.  I believe that the staff serves as such an integral component to campus success that our investment in them during a difficult time should be at the forefront of campus considerations.

Biography

My name is Stanyan Buckingham III and I am a father, husband and firm believer in education and the opportunity it provides to individuals.  I have served in Higher Education in different capacities for the past four years and have been at UCR for a little over a year now.  The diversity on campus and the access UCR provides to the many different diverse populations represented on campus and in the riverside community is one of the things that I truly value about UCR.  In the past, I have served in recreation, advising and now in my current role as the Development Coordinator for the UCR School of Business.  I recently completed my Masters in Higher Education Leadership and Administration at California Baptist University.  I have long been an advocate for education and have been fortunate in my different roles to see the meaningful impact it has had on people's lives.  In my free time, I enjoy spending time with my wife (Bekah) and daughter (Georgia), movies and coffee.  On any given weekend pre quarantine, you would often see me at Arcade coffee roasters reading and spending time with friends.

Christian Heun

Christian Heun

Incumbent Secretary
Organizational Project Administrator
Auxiliary Services

Why are you running for a position on the Staff Assembly Board?

In my current role, I have had the opportunity to meet with individuals who work in a variety of different roles on campus. Each of those encounters has expanded my knowledge of what is happening across campus and provided me with a taste of what it's like for staff who work outside my own department. I've participated in work groups and committees that discuss professional development and encourage staff who are looking for something different to consider positions elsewhere on campus. I think this would provide me with the chance to work closely with staff outside my own little circle and provide people reading what I write in those work groups with concrete examples of what we can learn from each other.

If elected, what are your plans for the position(s) for which you are running?

To continue improving upon the guides/SOPs I've already started for the Secretary role. I feel there is still more I could do and a second year would allow me to make the transition into the Secretary role for my successor much easier, allowing the new Secretary to then focus on other areas on which to improve.

What do you think Staff Assembly needs to focus on in the upcoming academic year?

Evaluate and assess current processes and procedures and see how we could improve them in light of the changes campus will see in the coming year.

Biography

Chris attended UC Irvine with plans of attending law school. After working as a trademark paralegal for a few years, he changed gears and decided to pursue a graduate degree in psychology. With a need to eat and pay off his student loans, he found himself working as a project manager for a translation company in Los Angeles after graduating. His long-time goal of working in university administration compelled him to start a doctoral program in Claremont. He accepted a job with Kaiser Permanente to complete a field study course and then a full-time project manager position working with patient satisfaction surveys. Already married and with infant twins he rarely saw because of his long commute, he left Kaiser to work from home. Life being unpredictable, he had to abandon the doctoral program and ended up going back to work for the translation company he'd left ten years earlier, but never let go of his goal to work at a university. He's convinced that it's never too late to start over.

Penni Ebina

Penni Ebina

Incumbent Treasurer
Purchasing Specialist
Auxiliary Services Budget & Finance

Why are you running for a position on the Staff Assembly Board?

I am running for a 6th year as the treasurer position because I have always supported Staff Assembly's purpose to enhance the functioning of UCR, by promoting the interests and welfare of all staff career employees. I want to continue to be an active part of this organization.

If elected, what are your plans for the position(s) for which you are running?

If re-elected, I will use my financial skills to continue to maintain fiscal control and compliance of the Staff Assembly funds. I would also like to see some ways we can fundraise and impact the largest number of staff members in the most exciting ways.

What do you think Staff Assembly needs to focus on in the upcoming academic year?

I think that during the upcoming year, Staff Assembly needs to increase the amount of staff involvement, staff connection, and relaying of relevant staff communications in a timely and efficient manner. If we continue in the social distancing and working from home ways to connect with each other and leadership.

Biography

My name is Penni Ebina and I have been on the UCR campus for 17 1/2 years. During these years I have held the following positions:

  • Customer Service Rep @ Lothian Residence Hall
  • Resident Services Rep @ Crest Family Housing
  • Business Operations Manager @ Falkirk Apartments.
  • Cash Operations Financial Coordinator - Cash Office\Housing Services
  • I am currently an Purchasing Specialist within the Auxiliary Services Budget & Finance Unit

I have made strong relationships with colleagues that I value throughout my time here at UCR. This is my chance to be active in an organization who recognizes all that staff does for us here at UCR. Please vote for me as Treasurer. Thank you.