Governor Newsom Names 4 New Regents

Board Extends Chair’s Term, Adds Staff and Student Delegates

Quick Summary

  • Governor appoints Batchlor, Chu, Matosantos, Robinson
  • Richard Leib drops interim from his title as board chair
  • Jo Mackness of UC Berkeley: staff advisor-designate
  • Merhawi Tesfai of UCLA: student regent-designate

Gov. Gavin Newsom on July 22 appointed four new regents, subject to confirmation by the state Senate. The terms run 12 years and provide no compensation.

The newly named regents:

  • Elaine Batchlor of Los Angeles, chief executive officer of MLK Community Healthcare. A physician, she is a graduate of the Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine. She holds a master’s degree from degree from UCLA's Fielding School of Public Health.
  • Carmen Chu, San Francisco city administrator, formerly the city-county assessor-recorder and District 4 supervisor. She earned a master’s degree in public policy from UC Berkeley and a bachelor’s degree in public policy from Occidental College.
  • Ana Matosantos of Sacramento, cabinet secretary in the governor’s office, formerly the director of the state Department of Finance and chief deputy director for budgets from 2008 to 2009. She received a bachelor’s degree in political science from Stanford University.
  • Mark Robinson of Kentfield (Marin County), a partner at Centerview Partner, an investment banking and advisory firm. He serves on two boards at UC Berkeley: College of Letters and Sciences, and UC Berkeley Foundation. He received a Bachelor of Arts degree in history and political science at UC Berkeley and an M.B.A. at Harvard.

Read more about them in the governor’s announcement.

President Michael V. Drake welcomed the new members, saying in a news release: “Gov. Newsom’s latest appointments bring a wealth of knowledge and experiences that will help them contribute to our university and its critical mission. They each possess a deep understanding of our institution and our state, and I look forward to working with them on the critical decisions that will shape the university in the years to come.” 

Read more about the Board of Regents, including the full roster.

UC Regent Richard Leib headshot
Richard Leib

On July 1, the Board of Regents itself appointed Richard Leib to a full, one-year term as chair, through June 30, 2023. He began the 2021-22 year as the vice chair, then moved up to chair in March when Cecilia V. Estolano stepped down, her term on the board having come to an end.

The board appointed Gareth Elliott to serve as vice chair in 2022-23.

Leib, president and CEO of Dunleer Strategies, a San Diego-based strategic consulting firm specializing in emerging companies, joined the board in 2018, appointed by then-Gov. Jerry Brown to a term ending in 2026. Leib previously served as a member of the Board of Governors of California Community Colleges, 1999-2005, and worked on legislative staffs in federal and state government.

He holds a Bachelor of Arts degree from UC Santa Barbara, a Master of Arts from Claremont Graduate School and a Juris Doctor from Loyola University School of Law.

“Higher education is one of the primary pathways to economic mobility, and the university is focused on securing the necessary investments, in partnership with the state of California, to allow even more hard-working, qualified Californians to attend UC in the years ahead,” Leib said in a UC news release.

UC Regent Gareth Elliott headshot
Gareth Elliott

Elliott joined the board in 2015, appointed by Gov. Brown to a term ending in 2025. Elliott worked in a number of governmental policy roles in California, including legislative affairs secretary to Gov. Brown, 2011-15, policy director to state Sen. Alex Padilla, 2008-11; and policy director and deputy chief of staff to state Sen. Senate President Pro Tem Don Perata, 2004-08. 

Elliott, who earned a Bachelor of Arts degree at Humboldt State University (now California Poly Humboldt), is a partner at Sacramento Advocates Inc., which describes itself as a full-service public affairs and government relations firm dedicated to providing lobbying, strategic counsel and procurement services.

Read more about Leib and Elliott, and see the list of the board’s committee chairs for 2022-23.

Priya Lakireddy and Jo Mankison comb, headshots
Priya Lakireddy, left, and Jo Mankness

July 1 also brought the annual changeover in staff advisors to the Board of Regents:

  • Priya Lakireddy, a contract administrator in procurement services within the Division of Finance and Administration at UC Merced, moves up from staff advisor-designate to staff advisor.
  • Jo Mackness, assistant vice chancellor and chief operating officer of UC Berkeley’s Division of Student Affairs and a leader of several UC Berkeley and systemwide committees, begins a one-year term as staff advisor-designate (to become staff adviser in 2023-24). Read more about her on UCnet.

Merhawi Tesfai and Marlanee L. Blas Pedral headshots
Merhawi Tesfai and Marlanee L. Blas Pedral

The Board of Regents this month also selected its next student regent: Merhawi Tesfai, a transfer student to UCLA where he earned a bachelor’s degree and two master’s degrees and is now going for a Ph.D. in social welfare.

Tesfai will serve as student regent-designate in 2022-23, able to participate in all board deliberations, and as student regent with voting privileges in 2023-24. Following the same process, UC Berkeley law student Marlenee L. Blas Pedral was appointed a year ago as student regent-designate for 2021-22 and has moved up to student regent for 2022-23.

Applications from Tesfai and others interested in being student regent first went through panels appointed by student body presidents and the UC Student Association and UC Graduate and Professional Council. The panels conducted interviews, then handed off to a special committee of regents.

After interviewing the finalists, the committee recommended Tesfai — and the full board concurred July 20 during the first day of a two-day meeting at UC San Francisco Mission Bay.

Tesfai immigrated to the United States as a child from his native Eritrea and is a first-generation university student. He earned an associate’s degree at Los Angeles City College before transferring to UCLA, where he earned a bachelor’s in African American studies and dual master’s degrees in social welfare and public policy before embarking on his Ph.D. studies.

He has a background in counseling and uses his own experience to engage in outreach to assist community college students in navigating the transfer process. He also encourages students from underrepresented communities to apply to graduate school.

“UC offers incredible opportunities for learning, research and economic mobility to countless students from California and beyond,” Tesfai said in a news release from the UC Office of the President. “I am grateful for this opportunity to bring my experiences as a first-generation, nontraditional student to be one of two representatives of the student voice to the Board of Regents and advocate for our priorities and needs.

“There is much work ahead for the university to provide critical academic resources and necessary support to ensure students have the tools for success. I cannot wait to get started in this important work.”

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Media Resources

Dateline Staff: Dave Jones, editor, 530-752-6556,; Cody Kitaura, News and Media Relations specialist, 530-752-1932,

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