It's My Job
Adrian Diaz, Assistant director, State Government Relations
07 May 2009
BERKELEY — Adrian Diaz graduated from Berkeley with a degree in political science in 2004, then worked briefly at a communications firm specializing in public-policy issues. That stint led to a position in San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom's office, where Diaz assisted the communications director and the education adviser. When he saw the posting for his current job four years ago, he jumped at the chance to come work at his alma mater.
What does State Government Relations do?
We work to demonstrate the value of UC Berkeley to elected officials and the public. Engaging various constituent groups to advocate in support of the university in the state Legislature is a big part of the job.
How do you do that?
If you're a Cal alum, as 14 of our 120 state legislators are, you know firsthand the value of the institution. It's the other 106 members who need educating. We connect faculty experts to policymakers — we've got someone working on just about every imaginable issue under the sun at Berkeley. We also track legislation and represent the university's interests when necessary.
In what other ways do you keep Berkeley front and center in Sacramento?
We hold UC Day, our annual legislative-advocacy day, where we bring alumni to Sacramento. They meet with legislators to talk about how having a degree from Cal has benefited them, and why UC Berkeley is a worthwhile investment for the state.
What role do alumni and supporters play in your work?
They're our most reliable advocates. We have an online advocacy group of about 7,000 people — mostly alumni — whom we call on periodically. If we want to engage them, we'll ask them to contact their legislator to voice their support or opposition on a bill or other pending legislation, whatever is needed. Sometimes a legislator will say, "Call them off, our fax machine has blown up and our in-box is full!"
What skills are needed to be successful in your job?
You definitely have to like people and interacting with people. It helps to have an interest in policy, especially higher-education policy and to have a good degree of patience, because nothing in our world happens overnight.
How do you feel about representing Berkeley?
It comes easily for me. I have three
brothers: Two of them went here and my twin brother attended Davis, so we're an all-UC family.
What about the rest of your family?
My parents are first-generation immigrants who came to this country with little more than a suitcase. That's one reason it upsets me to hear UC blasted in Sacramento for not doing enough on diversity issues, or to hear that we're not affordable. The truth of it is that, compared to our peer institutions, we're still an affordable university.
What do you like best about your job?
I love this university. I feel like, in a way, I'm giving back, even though I'm getting paid to do it.
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