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Message from CalSWEC's Departing Executive Director, Rodger Lum

Organization’s Strategic Plan, greater sustainability are among accomplishments of his tenure

Dr. Roger Lum became CalSWEC's Interim Director in January 2014 and was named Executive Director that August, serving part time on a one-year contract that was subsequently renewed. Effective September 1, 2016, Dr. Virginia Rondero Hernandez was hired to take over the reins as CalSWEC's first full-time Executive Director and Principal Investigator. As Dr. Lum departs, he reflects on his CalSWEC experience and shares plans for his own Third Act.

Everyone has dreams about their futures, whether personal or professional. I count myself lucky in being able to achieve important milestones in my life—in my marriage and starting a family and being afforded career opportunities in my work with Asian immigrants and Southeast Asian refugees in the nonprofit mental health sector, vulnerable populations served by government agencies while directing social services and health and human services in Alameda and San Diego counties, respectively, and social work students, workers, and educators with the Bay Area Academy and now, CalSWEC. A common life theme is working with those in need of affordable and accessible care and with those who care passionately about supporting and providing services through public systems in higher education or government-run services. 

RELATED: Read more about Dr. Rodger Lum

Throughout my adult life, I have always been concerned about systemic and societal factors that contribute to social ills and injustices, and to addressing those factors to promote greater well-being, safety, and equality. Social workers really matter by what they do to help those in need. I am grateful that I have had a chance to work with so many dedicated and committed social workers both before and during my time at CalSWEC.

Highlights: Strategic Plan; Advances in Contracts, Hosting
As I reflect on my 2½-plus years as the Executive Director of CalSWEC, I am most proud of several major achievements. We accomplished many things across our core areas of child welfare, mental health (now integrated behavioral health), and aging, but the few I take personal pride in are that we developed a new strategic plan to guide our work over the next 3–5 years, negotiated a two-year contract with the California Department of Social Services for the Title IV-E Stipend Program that includes indirect cost rates for UC Berkeley and our university partners, and established a more sustainable foundation for Berkeley to continue hosting CalSWEC. The final issue is essential for maintaining the momentum and continuity of CalSWEC as Berkeley and other public universities grapple with the loss of public funding and support, and seek ways to trim expenses and financial obligations, generate new revenues, and streamline operations.

CalSWEC is now on firmer ground with contracts, indirect cost rates, and hosting. We are also now streamlining or considering changes in our Board of Director operations to achieve greater efficiencies, cost reductions, and functionality. Board restructuring, representing one of the most significant changes in the history of the organization, will position CalSWEC to become more nimble, adaptive, and purposeful, while respecting the foundation of its origins—its focus on partnerships.

Excited for CalSWEC's and His Own Future
I am very excited that CalSWEC is now starting a new journey in its storied history by welcoming its first ever full-time Executive Director and Principal Investigator, Dr. Virginia Rondero Hernandez. I am absolutely thrilled to transition out of my role as the part-time Executive Director after more than 2½ years and to give way to someone with great vision, passion, and leadership. I will remain on staff until the end of September, but I wish to thank everyone—staff, Board, project coordinators, and stakeholders—for your support over the years.

RELATED: Dr. Virginia Rondero Hernandez Is CalSWEC’s New Executive Director

As I prepare for retirement, I know that I will remain in touch with CalSWEC and my many friends, colleagues, and acquaintances. I look forward to putting more effort into photography, bicycling, travel, teaching or consulting, and volunteer work. However, there is one thing I MUST do, and that is to finish a trip to Pompeii that was cut short after one hour due to torrential rains.

With best wishes for an even brighter future at CalSWEC,

Rodger