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Staff Snapshot: Priya Lakireddy, incoming staff advisor to the UC Regents & pizza connoisseur

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Priya Lakireddy

Incoming Staff Advisor Priya Lakireddy moved to Merced with her family in 2009, the same year First Lady Michelle Obama congratulated UC Merced’s historic first graduating class. Priya wasn’t sure what her next step would be, but she was drawn to UC Merced’s promise and opportunity.

“It wasn’t until I stepped onto the UC Merced campus in 2014 that I realized the transformative power of higher education,” Priya says. “My first job at UC Merced was literally opening doors for people coming into the building. And I see all my work since then — up to my selection as staff advisor — as a continuation of that role. I’m committed to opening doors.”

When Priya’s family immigrated to the U.S. from India she was 18. She remembers struggling to balance school with work to help support her family. “Now I see how awesome those experiences were — how they helped me become the person I am. I’m able to share my story with others,” she says.

Now a contract administrator in Procurement Services, Priya found her career path at UC Merced and her community in the UC Merced Staff Assembly. “The people I met in Staff Assembly in 2014 are now among my best friends,” she says. “I started as co-chair for events — which is a great way to connect with people across the university — and worked my way up to serving as president and senior CUCSA delegate.” (Editor’s note: The Council of UC Staff Assemblies — CUCSA — is a systemwide staff organization that is composed of elected leaders from nearly all UC locations.)

Priya is looking forward to sharing with the Regents some of what UC staff have learned during this past year. “We come to work as caregivers, as parents, as members of our community. Granting UC’s staff the flexibility to balance their work and home lives, when we can, will help us attract new talent and retain top contributors. We know this works,” Priya says.

Mentorship is another one of Priya’s passions. “UC staff members deserve every opportunity to develop and thrive — especially people who haven’t traditionally received those opportunities,” she says. “I’m excited about continuing UC’s work toward becoming a truly inclusive workplace, where staff members can grow.”

Priya joins current Staff Advisor Lucy Tseng in bringing the voice and perspective of staff to Board of Regents discussions. Ann Jeffrey, outgoing staff advisor to the Regents and UC Berkeley assistant vice chancellor and chief of staff, completed her two-year term on June 30. 

President Michael V. Drake, M.D., selected Priya as part of a systemwide process, with applications solicited across the UC system. A selection committee composed of systemwide and campus leaders and current and past staff advisors reviewed the applications and selected finalists for the president’s consideration.

“I have great respect for the contributions of staff advisors to the Regents, so it is a privilege to select Priya for this role. Priya has worked tirelessly for UC Merced — from her work advocating for greater equity for staff to her service on the Valuing Black Lives Task Force — and I’m grateful for the commitment and passion she’ll bring to her advocacy for staff across UC,” President Drake says.

“We’re in a transformative time,” Priya says. “President Drake and [UC Merced] Chancellor Muñoz have both had tremendous first years, and we’re welcoming students, faculty and staff back onto our campuses. This is the right time to invest in the people who make UC great. And I’m honored to be a part of this work.”

Meet Priya

Name: Priya Lakireddy

Title: Contract Administrator

Department/Unit: Contracts and Real Estate/Procurement Services

Location: UC Merced

When did you start working for UC? September 2014

In five words or less, what do you do for UC? Assist departments with procuring services

Why do you love working for UC? I love interacting with students, staff and faculty who are committed and passionate about UC’S mission, and who are making amazing contributions to our state and the world.

What’s something people don’t know about you? I love exploring the best places to eat pizza in every city I visit! I really like Pizzaiolo in Oakland, Michael’s Pizzeria in Long Beach and Pastaria in St. Louis, to name a few.

Who’s your dream dinner guest (living or dead) and why? Kalpana Chawla — she was the first woman of Indian origin to go to space.

What’s the best career advice you’ve ever received? It’s a recent one: “Go where you are celebrated, not just tolerated.”



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