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Aggressive advocate for Berkeley’s benefit
Capitol Hill veteran Kathleen Moazed comes to campus thoroughly prepared for the political fray

| 11 February 2004

 

Kathleen Moazed

With extensive staff experience in Congress, the campus’s new director of government and community affairs, Kathleen Moazed, brings valuable insight from “the other side of the fence” to her role as Berkeley’s chief advocate in Sacramento and Washington, D.C.
Karen Holtermann photo

With its breadth and expertise, Berkeley has an enormous impact on government. And — as anyone knows who has ever gone after a federal grant or struggled with a state budget cut — government has an enormous impact on Berkeley, too.

The campus’s critical relationships with legislators and policy makers are the purview of Kathleen Moazed, Berkeley’s new director of government and community affairs in the Office of Public Affairs. With 16 years on Capitol Hill and several more advising Bay Area corporations, foundations, and nonprofits, Moazed is comfortable taking on Berkeley’s government relations, even in these daunting times of flagging state budgets, complicated federal interactions, and the always lively give-and-take with the local community.

“My experience is with complex institutions facing enormous challenges,” Moazed says, “and with creating advocacy strategies that incorporate all the strengths, supporters, and tools that an institution has at its disposal.”

Her advocacy expertise is in demand right out of the starting gate. With the state budget “a pervasive concern,” her office is ground zero for campus advocacy efforts aimed at minimizing the cuts UC and the Berkeley campus will have to bear in the final 2004-05 state budget.

“Our message is that budget cuts will alter the fundamental character of this institution,” Moazed says. “Our short-term goal is to limit the impact of cuts on the campus, but our long-term goal is to change the climate for Berkeley, in both Sacramento and Washington. We want our legislators to have a better understanding of the value of having a top-ranked university here in California. We want them to take pride in it, and to factor in its value when they make policy or decide on budget cuts.”

Other priorities will command the attention of Moazed and her associates, Adam Parker and Michele Barer-Moskowitz, in her first months. They are working to raise awareness of Proposition 55, the education bond on the March 2 ballot, from which Berkeley stands to gain $28 million for seismic and safety improvements, renovations that cannot be made if the bond doesn’t pass. The office is also keeping its eye on Washington: Perennial advocates for research funding, they are focusing in particular this spring on reauthorization of the Higher Education Act to make scholarship dollars available.

In a move that Moazed sees as the best possible integration of efforts to reach out to elected officials and policymakers, the campus Community Relations office, led by Irene Hegarty, joins her Public Affairs team this month.

“We’re taking a top-to-bottom approach, from the local to the federal level and everything in between,” she says. The worlds of decision-makers in government often overlap, she notes, especially in this era of term limits, as local leaders replace termed-out state legislators, and state officials make a run for Congress. Good relationships with officials at all levels can be a long-term boon to Berkeley.

Moazed hopes that faculty and staff will contact her office when they are meeting with officials in Sacramento or Washington, or hosting government visitors here.

“Some professors have relationships in Sacramento and Wash-ington, and that’s great,” she says. “What our office can do is get them greater access, expand their contacts with other policymakers, provide data they need, and bring prominent legislators to them when we arrange campus visits.”

From The Farm to the Hill
Moazed grew up in La Honda, far from the seats of local, state, or federal power. The daughter of a French father and Vietnamese mother, she was born in San Francisco not long after her mother emigrated there. They moved to rural La Honda, reasoning that “it was better to be poor in the country than in the city.”

Encouraged by two teachers, she was the only student in her high-school class to go to college — earning her bachelor’s degree in international relations from Stanford. While at Stanford, she bicycled to a town-hall meeting in Palo Alto to chastise her congressman, Pete McCloskey, for ignoring the residents of La Honda in favor of constituents in Atherton, Palo Alto, and other affluent cities in his district. Soon after, he paid a visit to the town and offered her an internship in his Washington, D.C., office.

After graduation she spent seven years on the staff of Rep. Sam Gejdenson (D-Conn.), followed by nine years, on and off, on the staff of the House Committee on International Relations, including three years as chief of staff for the committee.

Her Capitol Hill years were formative ones, she says. “Most of what I learned about advocacy is from the other side of the fence. I came to see what works and what doesn’t in influencing policymakers. As a result, I understand what legislators need to see and hear if you want to make an impact on their decisions.”

She also played the advocate as a political advisor to Silicon Valley CEO Steve Kirsch, a major Democratic Party donor, lobbying in Washington and Sacramento on behalf of his interest in energy and education issues. Her most recent work — advising foundations and nonprofit clients for a San Francisco public relations firm — gave her a “crash course” in the latest and most effective ways to advocate for an institution.

Moazed plans to put those methods to work here, whether by more aggressively coordinating alumni and business leaders in support of the campus or using online advocacy to get Berkeley’s message across to policymakers. She has worked at the cutting edge of online advocacy with such successful groups as the Polly Klaas Foundation and MoveOn.org.

“It’s time for the university to be aggressive and forward-looking in our interactions with Sacramento and Washington,” she says. “The days when you rely on reputation alone are over.”