Chat with the chair, vol. 6

After interning for a state senator in high school and noticing the predominance of men on the Capitol floor, Bettina Duval ’82 knew she wanted to work toward more equitable politics. She later founded the California Women’s List, a political action committee to elect women. She has also volunteered across campus and became chair in 2023 of the UC Berkeley Foundation (UCBF), which encourages private giving to Berkeley.

Photo of Bettina in a bright yellow dress against a blurred background.

Bettina Duval ’82, chair of the UC Berkeley Foundation. Photo by Keegan Houser.

How would you define your undergraduate experience?

As a rhetoric major, I studied everything from John Rawls and liberalism, to the Bible, to Tolstoy’s “War and Peace” — all with a lens on evil. That sums up my Berkeley experience. It created an opportunity to think about different subjects and what they mean in relation to the world we live in.

I also ran the ASUC elections. This was before computers when ballots were handwritten, and we had difficulties with security. We partnered with the League of Women Voters, who would sit next to the boxes. Then we did the first election on computer cards and fed them individually into a machine in the basement of Evans Hall!

You have volunteered for different boards, advocated for Berkeley in Sacramento, and now lead the UCBF. What inspires you to give back?

I remember sitting on Sproul Plaza and never wanting to leave. When the opportunities presented themselves, I took them.

I’m really proud of creating a graduate student fellowship at the Goldman School of Public Policy. I also helped establish a scholarship in memory of Jill Costello, the women’s crew coxswain who died of cancer at age 22. It’s about providing students with an even better, more evolved experience than I had.

Amid budget and other challenges, what gives you hope for Berkeley’s future?

The new College of Computing, Data Science, and Society and its home, the Gateway, are forward thinking and inspirational. Data science is the future, the new English. It’s a wonderful example of what a campaign — and alumni, when we put our minds to it — can accomplish.

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