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Departing Staff Advisor Jo Mackness on bringing UC’s mission to life

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Jo Mackness, staff advisor designate to the Regents

“Throughout my time at UC, I’ve been inspired by the university’s role as a social mobility engine for students. As the third largest employer in California, I believe we can be a social mobility agent for staff, as well. Working as an advisor to the Board of Regents has given me a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to give voice the passionate people who bring UC’s mission to life every day.”

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As Jo Mackness comes to the end of her two-year term as staff advisor to the UC Regents, which she began alongside Staff Advisor Priya Lakireddy and is concluding alongside Staff Advisor Designate Andenet Emiru, she shares a few highlights and why you should consider applying by Monday, April 1, 2024.

What motivated you to apply to be a staff advisor?

I’ve always believed in UC’s mission of education, research and public service — that’s why many of us staff choose to work here. Without staff serving as the backbone of our university, we would not be able to further our mission.  I’m grateful that my current role [as associate vice chancellor of Residential & Student Service Programs at UC Berkeley] allows me the ability to expand opportunity for students. I’m also a believer that UC can offer transformative opportunities for staff — and I was excited by the chance to expand those opportunities through the staff advisor role.

How did your experience as staff advisor meet or exceed your expectations? What have you learned?

I learned a lot about the role of the Office of the President, and particularly Systemwide Human Resources, in shaping the staff experience. It was exciting to be a part of critical discussions about policies and programs, and to see firsthand the commitment of leadership to improving outcomes for staff.

What accomplishments will you look back on with pride?

Andenet and I are on the agenda for the May Regents meeting to share data and insights on the state of staff, and UC’s progress on our journey to becoming an employer of choice. We’ll be able to leverage feedback we’ve heard from staff around the system, alongside chief human resources officers and Systemwide HR leadership. Our goal is for this to be an annual exercise, to ensure that staff experiences and outcomes are being tracked by and thus a real priority for the Regents.

What’s next for you?

I’m going on vacation! Then of course I’m looking forward to focusing 100% on my work serving staff and students. I’m so grateful to our brilliant UC Berkeley Residential & Student Service Programs and the Student Affairs team for stepping in and leading during my time away from campus. It will be great to spend more time with them in the months ahead — we’ve got a busy summer preparing to open 1,500 new beds for transfer and graduate students in the fall!

Any closing thoughts?

I can’t end our interview without thanking Priya and Andenet for their invaluable collaboration and friendship. They’ve been terrific partners, and I’m so excited for all that Andenet will carry forward with the next Staff Advisor.

To all who are considering applying: This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to see how the world’s leading public institution governs. It’s phenomenal to have a seat — and a voice — at the table where decisions are made that have such a positive impact on the world. I’m incredibly grateful for this experience.

Learn more and apply

Learn more about the program and how to apply by Monday, April 1 on the staff advisor website.

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