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New UCLA staff assembly president aims to unite staff

Cindy Cordova, UCLA’s new staff assembly president, traveled to Romania to volunteer with disabled children.

By Jennifer Crane

July 8, 2013 1:28 a.m.

The original headline accompanying this article contained an error and has been changed. See the bottom of the article for additional information.

Volunteering is a way of life for Cindy Cordova.

Her most recent endeavor is to serve her colleagues at UCLA.

Cordova, who is currently an assistant to the vice dean for faculty at the UCLA David Geffen School of Medicine, took on the role of UCLA’s staff assembly president on July 1. She will serve for one year in the unpaid and voluntary position that was created more than 30 years ago to serve as the liaison between staff and the administration, among other duties.

In her new role, Cordova said she plans to help connect the staff of Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center to campus staff through events such as a casino night or one-hour talks given by expert speakers on how to balance stressful work lives and emotional well-being.

UCLA Health System staff members do not always participate in staff events as much as those who work on campus because of the distance between the medical center and campus, Cordova said.

“I want to bridge the gap between health systems and campus staff,” she said.

While staff morale has been challenged by layoffs and budget cuts in the past couple of years, Cordova’s duty is to make the staff feel valued, said David Miller, the director of diversity outreach for UCLA Faculty Diversity and Development.

“I want to represent the staff and make their voices heard,” Cordova said. She plans on doing this by taking into consideration the staff’s concerns while she plans social events such as an all-staff picnic that hosts about 7,000 people.

Her passion for service stems from her extensive background in volunteer work.

Cordova volunteered for one year at School on Wheels, a program in which volunteers tutor and provide support to homeless children living in Southern California.

She became close with a 10-year-old girl in the program and, despite not tutoring in the program anymore, the two remain close friends five years later.

In 2010, Cordova traveled to Romania and volunteered at a clinic called Failure to Thrive, a home for children whose parents could not take care of them, Cordova said. Many of the children had disabilities such as down syndrome or fetal alcohol syndrome, she added.

Cordova would engage the kids in games and activities. She said the experience opened her eyes to the effects of the symptoms on the children’s lives.

Cordova’s first position at UCLA was in the UCLA Graduate School of Education and Information Studies, where she acted as an assistant to the dean for four and a half years.

In her previous position, Cordova helped boost staff morale by creating gift exchanges and luncheons so her co-workers could positively interact. Because of Cordova’s dedication, the staff felt more like a team, said Rosemary Chavoya, assistant dean for administration of the Graduate School of Education and Information Studies.

Cordova decided she wanted to become more involved with UCLA three years ago after participating in the Bruin Health Improvement Program, a free three-month exercise class for faculty and staff through UCLA recreation.

She said participating in a UCLA staff program she really enjoyed made her want to give back to the university.

To continue her volunteer work outside of UCLA, Cordova said she has been saving money from her paychecks for the past two years to travel to Nairobi, Kenya, to volunteer at an orphanage. She will travel there this month to volunteer for two weeks.

As for her new position, Cordova said the reason she is looking forward to working for the staff assembly is simple.

“I just like to give back,” she said.

Correction: Cindy Cordova, the new UCLA staff assembly president, will be working primarily with staff.

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Jennifer Crane
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