On Oct. 1, former Columbia University employee Lea Robinson took on the newly created role of coordinator of student cooperative involvement and student leadership for the campus Leadership, Engagement, Advising and Development Center.
In this role, Robinson’s main responsibilities include working closely with and advocating on behalf of students in the Berkeley Student Cooperative community, communicating with the LEAD Center and campus partners to improve existing programs and being a core coordinator for campuswide events, according to Jenny Harris, the administrative support specialist for the LEAD Center.
“The impact that I always want to make is to help create safe, inclusive, innovative and vibrant spaces for students to grow in, collaborate in, learn in and bring their entire selves into,” Robinson said in an email. “I’ve always had an open door policy with my students and colleagues and when they leave my office I want them to feel like they’ve been heard, supported and empowered.”
Robinson worked at Columbia University beginning in 2008 as the assistant director of the office of multicultural affairs department as well as the manager of LGBTQAA programming. During her time there, Robinson was responsible for the creation of student-empowerment programs such as Athlete Ally Week, which helps student-athletes come out in a safe environment. Additionally, she was heavily involved in projects such as Columbia’s Queer Awareness Month.
This is a newly created position within the LEAD Center: a department within the ASUC Student Union that involves leaders both in the ASUC and the Graduate Assembly. The LEAD Center’s main role is to promote student involvement and leadership within the community, whether it is through student government, fraternities, sororities or club groups.
“With this position, we gain increased access to university resources, we improve our ability to work with campus partners, and we gain the ability to better resource and better support the student leaders who keep our cooperative running,” said Kim Benson, executive director of the BSC, in an email.
After a nationwide search this past summer, Robinson was chosen for the position by a search committee comprised of leaders within the BSC and ASUC, LEAD Center staff, a representative from the Educational Opportunity Program and the Cal Corps Public Service Center, according to Riley.
“Lea’s background and commitment to social justice and student support made her an ideal candidate for this new position,” said Jamie Riley, director of the LEAD Center, in an email. “She has a strong focus on supporting students and respecting students voices in developing new leadership opportunities, which align well with the LEAD Center philosophy of how we engage students in their own experience.”
Robinson began training when she arrived, in which she has had the opportunity to directly interact with students and begin to foster their relationships right away.
Benson has high hopes for Robinson and hopes she can be a support system for not only the BSC community but for the entire UC Berkeley student body.
“I’m excited about getting to campus, connecting with students and working very closely with them around the programming and changes they would like to see within their community,” Robinson said.