Podcast: For alumni leader, giving hope is her life’s mission

It’s Black History Month, and every week we are featuring a different African American leader UC Berkeley. Today, we’re hearing from Clothilde Hewlett, the executive director of the Cal Alumni Association.

Some people move to San Francisco for its jobs. Or its nightlife. Or its natural beauty. But Clothilde Hewlett moved for Rice-A-Roni. Hewlett was 14 years old waiting at the Canadian border with her mom and two younger sisters. They’d been there for two weeks, but things weren’t looking promising. “And at one point, my mother, out of despair, looked at me and she said, ‘Where do you wanna go?’ says Hewlett. “And all I could think of is I had a seen a commercial called Rice-A-Roni and it didn’t look like people in San Francisco were suffering. So I said, ‘San Francisco.’”

Listen to Hewlett’s story — how she pulled herself out of poverty, climbed the ranks in the government and corporate America and returned to UC Berkeley, where it all began.

Read the transcript.

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Cloey Hewlett standing in front of a wall of photos of past Cal Alumni executive directors

Clothilde Hewlett is the executive director of the Cal Alumni Association. (UC Berkeley photo by Sara Yogi)

cloey in a class photo

School photo of Cloey in elementary school (Photo courtesy of Clothilde Hewlett)

Cloey (center) with her two sisters, Suzy (left) and Maryann (Photo courtesy of Clothilde Hewlett)

cloey and other kids holding balloons

When Cloey and her family moved to San Francisco, she spent time at a community center for low-income youth, where she met Jerry Brown, now the governor of California. It was Brown who encouraged her to apply to UC Berkeley. (Photo courtesy of Clothilde Hewlett)

Cloey in a junior miss pageant

After Cloey was accepted to UC Berkeley, she had to raise money to pay for tuition and housing. She won several scholarships and entered a Junior Miss pageant. She won in San Francisco and placed second in California. (Photo courtesy of Clothilde Hewlett)

cloey after she graduated from law school

Hewlett and her mother after the 25-year-old graduated from law school (Photo courtesy of Clothilde Hewlett)

Hewlett’s mother holds her daughter’s hand after Hewlett is awarded a medal of bravery while on the San Francisco Police Commission. (Photo courtesy of Clothilde Hewlett)

Clothilde Helwett marching on MLK Day in the 1990s

Hewlett (center) marching on Martin Luther King Jr. Day in San Francisco in the 1990s when she was on the San Francisco Police Commission (Photo courtesy of Clothilde Hewlett)