Builder of “bridges” named next Staff Advisor-Designate to the Regents

Chancellor Blumenthal and Sherry Main
Chancellor George Blumenthal and Assistant Vice Chancellor Sherry Main

About a decade ago, Sherry Main was part of a campus effort to advocate for a new position that gives UC staff members a voice in Board of Regents deliberations. Now, Main will be the next person to step into the role she helped shape.

Main, assistant vice chancellor of Communications and Marketing at UC Santa Cruz, has been selected as the next Staff Advisor-Designate to the Regents. Her two-year appointment begins July 1.

“Having seen this program from its infancy and seen different staff advisors step into the role and have an impact, I wanted to apply,” Main said. “The time commitment is huge, but the opportunity to impact staff around the system is bigger.”

Main will join current Staff Advisor Jason Valdry, a director of technology at UC Irvine, in bringing the voice and perspective of staff to Board of Regents discussions. Departing Staff Advisor LaWana Richmond, a senior business analyst at UC San Diego, will complete her two-year term on June 30.

President Napolitano selected Main as part of a systemwide process. Applications were solicited across the UC system. A selection committee, which included systemwide and campus leaders and current and past staff advisors, reviewed the applications and selected finalists for the president’s consideration.

“Sherry brings a wealth of experience, insight and passion that will serve her well as a staff advisor and serve us well as a university,” President Napolitano said. “I look forward to the valuable staff perspective she will bring to the table.”

Main joined UC Santa Cruz as an assistant vice chancellor in 2015, but her connection to UC dates back to her days as a college student. Main earned her bachelor’s degree at UC Davis and her MBA at UC Irvine. She spent 14 years in communications roles at UC Irvine. During her tenure there, she served on committees and organizations, including Staff Assembly and the Chancellor’s Committee on the Status of Staff. And it was while serving as vice chair of the UC Irvine Staff Assembly that Main participated in the systemwide effort to create the Staff Advisors to the Regents program.

“Staff had no direct, consistent way to interact with the regents,” she said. “We wanted to give staff a presence, an ability to voice their concerns, in a timely and continuous way.”

Through her experiences at multiple campuses, Main discovered that programs and services can vary from location to location. As a staff advisor, she wants to explore what different campuses offer, identify best practices, and find a way to share those across the system so staff at every campus can benefit from the best that UC has to offer.

Among her top priorities, Main said she plans to advocate for increased professional development to help staff succeed in their careers at UC and to support workforce retention. She points to a special program at UC Irvine that provides scholarships to staff who want to take classes, attend a conference, complete a certificate program or earn a master’s degree. The annual program is funded through the Staff Assembly’s fundraising campaign, with financial support from the chancellor and executive vice chancellor.

“It’s a great opportunity for staff [at Irvine] to advance their careers,” she said. “I want to find out about other programs at other campuses too, so we can learn from each other and pull together some best practices.”

Main also plans to advocate for enhanced wellness programs, as well as increased elder care and child care support. Many staff members are juggling their work while caring for children and aging parents, and that can take a toll, she said.

“The more ways we can invest in staff, we can create a better work environment and help staff grow in their UC careers,” she said.

She knows there are other issues that staff are concerned about, and she wants to hear from them. She plans to spend her first year as staff advisor listening to staff, gathering ideas for solutions, and brainstorming with colleagues on possible improvements, she said.

“I want people to share their thoughts and concerns with me. I hope to hear from a diverse range of voices and perspectives,” Main said. “I like communications because it builds bridges. And I see the staff advisor role as building bridges between staff and the regents.”