Published: Aug. 21, 2020

Dear Colleagues,

I hope everyone is having a successful move-in week. I have been at Will Vill a couple of times this week welcoming students and their families, and although a different look than past move-ins, the excitement and energy of the students remain the same. All our Protect Our Herd signage, and the supplemental support for our masks, ads, social posts and other move-in-related deliverables, has been awesome. Thank you for your amazing work!  I wanted to share a few SRC staffing updates with you. These moves have been in the works for some time, and I feel fortunate for our team to be able to solidify these roles.

Jon LeslieFirst, I am excited to announce that Candace Smith has been promoted to associate vice chancellor for strategic communications. Candace will step in and fill this key position, which has been vacant since I stepped into my new role in July of 2019. Her experience and leadership the past year have been invaluable to the success of so much of what we have accomplished as an institution, and I know her great work will continue. I look forward to partnering with Candace and leading Strategic Relations and Communications together. I know many of you already work with Candace and hope you will join me in congratulating her on her new role. 

I am also pleased to announce the following additional changes, which will not only provide Candace the support she needs; they will enable SRC to continue to align our efforts with the strategic priorities of the campus and better support you and your deans, as well as our faculty, staff, students and other constituencies:

  • Melanie Marquez Parra has been officially named as our director of communications and chief spokesperson. Melanie had been filling this role in an interim capacity since January and has really stepped up during this critical time. I am thrilled she has accepted the formal role.
  • Janet Braccio is officially joining SRC as our interim director of communications, Academic Affairs and the Graduate School. Janet will continue supporting the Graduate School and will officially direct our communications support for the Academic Affairs division (Office of the Provost).
  • Deb Mendez Wilson has agreed to take on the role of interim director of communications, Strategic Resources and Support. Deb will now provide overarching communications support for the SRS division and will also take the lead on facilitating our campuswide anti-racism, diversity, equity and inclusion communications efforts, which are a key priority for the campus in the coming year.
  • Kathryn Tisdale of the Finance and Business Strategy team will also be joining our SRC team as the director of strategic initiatives and communications, moving over to support FBS strategic initiatives and budget/fiscal resiliency communications efforts. Kathryn will continue her communications support of CFO Carla Ho-a in her new role and will work closely to coordinate initiative and financial communications needs with Janet and Deb.

On behalf of all of the team at SRC, thank you for your partnership and support.

We are Buffs together,


Jon Leslie
Senior Associate Vice Chancellor of Strategic Communications