In honor of the “150 Years of Women at Berkeley” project, each day until Aug. 18 Berkeley News is hosting a series of Q&As featuring 18 unsung heroines on staff from all corners of the campus. The series will culminate on Aug. 18 with a special edition of Berkeley Campus Conversations, featuring four remarkable female staffers:
- Cruz Grimaldo, assistant vice chancellor and director of the Financial Aid and Scholarships Office
- Sunny Lee, assistant vice chancellor and dean of students
- Mia Settles-Tidwell, assistant vice chancellor in the Division of Equity and Inclusion
- Charmin Smith, head coach of Cal women’s basketball
You were nominated for being involved in LGBTQ+ organizing on campus for decades. Every month, for the past 165 consecutive months, you’ve coordinated and hosted a LavenderCal lunch to foster community and connections for LGBTQ+ staff and faculty. Additionally, you successfully moved Lavender Lunch to be held virtually during the COVID pandemic. Finally, you’ve been an amazing resource for support and guidance to the new LavenderCal leadership team. How have you managed to maintain this community building and leadership development effort for decades?
Truth be told, I picked up hosting the First Friday LavenderCal lunches with the twenty-fourth lunch on August 1, 2008, having been recruited by Sharon Page-Medrich, past LavenderCal volunteer coordinator extraordinaire. So really, it’s only been just over a decade that I’ve hosted. Credit where credit is due: I got a lot of help from my fellow LavenderCal leadership team members in moving our lunches from the material to the virtual world. Maintaining this community-building effort has been through simply showing up with the joy in my heart it gives me to spend time with our amazing LGBTQ+ staff and faculty.
How long have you been with Berkeley?
I started working in the fall semester of 1979 and have been working full-time ever since. My email address is going on my headstone!
What is your favorite thing about working at Berkeley?
The aspect of Berkeley that I’ve enjoyed the most over all these decades is seeing the University grow and change. Forty years ago, Berkeley was not the diverse, inclusive place it is today. I have been so gratified, as the years have gone by, to see the campus reflect our society and include more BIPOC, LGBTQ+, and disabled students, staff and faculty. I’ve witnessed this campus blossom into the multilingual and multicultural place that it is today. I’m honored to have played a small role in supporting the learning and teaching of the languages, literatures and cultures of the world.
What do you do for fun?
I enjoy folk dancing: International, English Country Dance, Scottish Country Dance and American Contra Dance. I’m a music and dance maven who enjoys early music, folk music, ethnic music and dance and ballet. Being in a concert hall or auditorium is my happy place. I love the visual and dramatic arts as well.