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Alumna appointed Chief of Staff


(Photo courtesy of Judith Iglehart)

Mills College alumna Judith Iglehart, an Oakland resident, was appointed the new Chief of Staff to Berkeley Mayor Tom Bates last month.


Iglehart received her MA in English Literature in 1973 from Mills, and returned in 2000 for a EdD, which she completed in 2007. She has served as president to various angel investment networks, which direct the investments of individual entrepreneurs, and worked as both the Chief Research Development Officer and Deputy Senior Vice President of Business and Finance at UC Berkeley.

Campanil Staff: What does being the Chief of Staff to the mayor of Berkeley involve?

Judith Iglehart: Being Chief of Staff means attending City Council meetings after reviewing materials, dealing with the press, serving on committees like 2020 For Youth (a program dedicated to breaking down the academic disparities that exist along the racial lines of Berkeley Youth), the Health Alliance, and with the new SkyDeck incubator (a facility funded by UC Berkeley aimed at producing fundable start-up companies).

The issues I follow for the mayor are youth and education, economic and community development, health services, and I work with the mayor’s team on environmental, public safety, transportation, and facilities issues. I serve at the pleasure of the mayor.

CS: What changes are you hoping to make in Berkeley?

JI: I am here to carry out the mayor’s agenda. Working with the eight Mayors who established the Green Corridor (a coalition of eight East Bay cities working together to create a region that is a center for emerging green technology and innovation), Mayor Bates hopes to strengthen the programs and opportunities for high-tech economic development in the Corridor. I will work toward that goal.

CS: How will your background in Education be brought to the Mayor’s office and the City of Berkeley?

JI: I am pleased that I will be working on youth education issues in the City of Berkeley, and with the (UC) Berkeley campus on other issues through their community relations office.

CS: You live in Oakland but work with the politics of Berkeley. What is your relationship to each city?

JI: I am a native Oaklander and live there now, so my roots are deep. I was born on Pill Hill at Merritt Hospital (now Alta Bates/Summit).

However, I did my BA and MJ at Berkeley and worked both on campus and at the UC Office of the President, so I understand the issues in Berkeley as well. I love both cities.

I also did a short stint in Sacramento working as Chief of Staff to the California Senate Majority Floor Leader.  I worked in Washington DC when I was assigned to handle State and Federal Government Relations for the
Berkeley campus.

CS: How has your Mills education served you throughout your career, and how has it gotten you to where you are today?

JI: I went to Mills after UC Berkeley because I was offered a fellowship that paid half my tuition and had a $70 per month stipend, which I needed as a single parent. I loved the beauty of the campus and being there.

When it was time to work toward the EdD, I chose Mills (and they chose me), because I wanted to be part of the new program and to work with the faculty there.  I had worked on committees with former President Janet Holmgren, and she graciously accepted my request that she join my dissertation committee.

I was pleased that Mills let me pursue a research area, Technology Transfer at the University of California, that was of great interest to me and one with which I had firsthand knowledge.  Professors Dave Donahue and Joe Kahne helped me shape my thesis, and I will always be grateful to them.

CS: What advice would you give to students hoping to follow a similar path as you?

JI: Be flexible in your career path.  I studied English Literature at Berkeley so I knew how to research and write, but my work in politics shaped my career choices.