Jesús Mena, director of UC Berkeley media relations, heads to new post at Harvard

By Public Affairs

BERKELEY- Jesús Mena, director of media relations at the University of California, Berkeley, will leave his post later this month to become director of communications and public affairs at Harvard University's John F. Kennedy School of Government.

At Harvard, Mena will lead the development and implementation of the Kennedy School's communications strategy, including media relations and publications.

"Many in my shoes would have had no second thoughts about accepting a job like this from the Harvard Kennedy School of Government," said Mena, 50. "It was a difficult decision because I have sunk deep roots in the Berkeley campus community and in the city itself. I will always treasure my experiences at Berkeley. They have given me the breadth I will need for the challenges ahead."

"Jesús has served our campus and community with distinction for the past 11 years," said Matthew Lyon, UC Berkeley assistant vice chancellor for public affairs. "As campus spokesman for much of that time, he has answered more questions than many people face in a lifetime, and has done so with grace and aplomb. His voice and friendship will be missed at Berkeley, and no doubt his leadership will become as valued at Harvard in days to come as it has been here for years. I speak for many people in wishing him the very best in his new endeavor."

A former migrant worker who picked crops from Wisconsin to Oklahoma, Mena graduated from the University of Texas at Austin with a BA in chemistry. In September 1988, he joined UC Berkeley

Public Affairs as a senior public information representative covering the sciences. Previously, he had worked for six years as a reporter at various newspapers including the Oakland Tribune, where he covered science and health care issues, the Los Angeles Herald-Examiner, the Orange County Register and the Brownsville (Texas) Herald.

In 1992, following the retirement of veteran UC Berkeley public information manager Ray Colvig, Mena was named acting director. After a short time, he became director of public information. Over the years, the title was changed to director of media relations.

Mena became the nation's first Latino to head the media relations office of a major research university.

During his tenure as campus spokesman, Mena addressed the media on many major news events that affected the campus including the East Bay fire, a Nobel Prize, the launching of the Berkeley Pledge, protests at People's Park and the dismantling of affirmative action.

Marie Felde, a former UC Berkeley assistant director of public information who now assists Chancellor Robert M. Berdahl with communications, will serve as interim director of media relations during the summer months.

A committee is being formed to begin a search for a permanent media relations director.


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