Former UC President Janet Napolitano joins Berkeley SkyDeck as adviser

Former U.S. Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano has joined Berkeley SkyDeck, UC Berkeley’s flagship startup accelerator, as an adviser. She will provide support and expertise for new civic technology companies that aim to enhance the relationships between people and government through technology.

portrait of Janet Napolitano

Janet Napolitano (Photo by Elena Zhukova)

“UC Berkeley has always been seen as one of the universities where change starts,” said Napolitano, who founded the campus’s Center for Security in Politics. “As part of the university, SkyDeck has been on the same mission and a home to a growing number of talented startups. As an adviser here, I hope to help startups focused on fostering the growth and preservation of democracy.”

Napolitano has a long and distinguished career in politics, serving as the U.S. attorney for the District of Arizona from 1993 to 1997 and as attorney general of Arizona from 1998 to 2003. In 2002, Napolitano was elected governor of Arizona, and in 2006 she was the first woman to win re-election to that office. Under President Barack Obama, Napolitano served as U.S. secretary of homeland security from 2009 to 2013.

Currently, Napolitano — the UC’s 20th president, from 2013 to 2020 — is a professor at Berkeley’s Goldman School of Public Policy. She also serves on the council of the American Law Institute and is a board member of the Council on Foreign Relations.

SkyDeck Executive Director Caroline Winnett said Napolitano’s distinguished public service career and depth of experience is “second to none” and will help support SkyDeck’s startup companies through her expertise in government, public affairs and education.

“She has, herself, been an innovator in public life, and she will bring that true spirit of discovery to our founders and our program,” said Winnett.