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Catharine Baker named director of the UC Student and Policy Center in Sacramento

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Catharine Baker
Catharine Baker, former California State Assemblymember and incoming director of the UC Center Sacramento

By the UC Newsroom

Former California State Assemblymember and champion of higher education Catharine Baker has been appointed director of the University of California Student and Policy Center, the University’s dynamic new systemwide hub in Sacramento, where UC students, faculty, and researchers come together with elected officials and policymakers in the Capitol.

As director of the UC Student and Policy Center (1115 11th Street), Baker will lead Universitywide public programming and outreach in the heart of Sacramento, including high-profile speakers, debates, and briefings that will engage elected officials, lawmakers, community groups, and thought leaders on timely national and state policy issues. In recent months, the center has hosted conversations with California Lieutenant Governor Eleni Kounalakis and President pro Tempore of the California State Senate Toni Atkins as part of its 2024 California Leaders Speaker Series.

Baker, a former California State Assemblymember who represented the 16th Assembly District from 2014 through 2018, established a strong bipartisan record of service while passing significant legislation focused on transportation, the environment, and government accountability. As vice chair of the Assembly Higher Education Committee, she advocated for educational quality, affordability, and accessibility and worked with state leaders to promote more funding for and admissions opportunities at UC. She has served as a commissioner with the California Fair Political Practices Commission since 2020, following her appointment by then-State Controller Betty Yee.

“The University of California is proud to work closely with California’s state leaders and policymakers to translate our research and scientific discoveries into policies and programs that benefit communities across our state,” said UC President Michael V. Drake, M.D. “I am thrilled that Catharine Baker will be joining us to build new bridges between the University and policymakers and develop solutions that will build a more sustainable and prosperous future for all.”

An attorney with a distinguished career in private practice, Baker most recently served as special counsel at Hoge Fenton, advising businesses and nonprofits and practicing election law. Baker currently serves on the boards of the Diablo Regional Arts Association, California Women Lead, the Livermore Lab Foundation, and California Forward.

“Catharine is a dedicated public servant and brings a wealth of knowledge to this role from her time as a California Assemblymember, an attorney, and a nonprofit leader,” said Richard Leib, chair of the UC Board of Regents. “She will advance the University’s public service mission in myriad ways, including bringing distinguished speakers from across the state to the UC Student and Policy Center and by opening doors to new opportunities for UC students in the Capitol.”

“The University is thrilled to have such a dynamic, accomplished leader coming onboard to lead the UC Student and Policy Center in Sacramento,” said UC Provost Katherine S. Newman. “Catharine’s contributions to our state as an elected and appointed official and an advocate for higher education and students, and her commitment to service, make her ideally suited to this essential role.”

As director, Baker will work closely with UC Center Sacramento leadership and staff to expand opportunities for UC students in the Capitol and elevate student voices with lawmakers.

Baker will draw on deep ties to the University of California community that date to her time as a Berkeley Law student. As an assemblymember, Baker championed new investments in the University and helped to establish the California Firearm Violence Research Center at UC Davis. More recently, Baker served as the UC Center Sacramento’s 2023 Governance Fellow, providing guidance to UC undergraduates as they undertook coursework and internships at or near the Capitol.

Baker holds a J.D. from the UC Berkeley School of Law and a B.A. in political science from the University of Chicago. She will assume her new role on July 8, 2024.

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