TRANSITIONS: Salon, McNabb and Vyas


  • Mabel Salon, chief government and community relations officer
  • Bret McNabb, director, Large Animal Clinic
  • Ekta Vyas,deputy chief human resources officer for UC Davis Health


Mabel Salon has been appointed UC Davis’ chief government and community relations officer. She had held the position on an interim basis since March 2018, during which time she managed the successful merger of the Davis-based and Sacramento-based Government and Community Relations units.

Mabel Salon mugshot

Based in the chancellor’s office, Government and Community Relations, or GCR, leads UC Davis’ efforts on initiatives focused on legislative priorities, budgetary concerns, advocacy measures and community relationships, serving as the university’s official voice to elected officials and their staffs, community organizations and opinion leaders. 

The university conducted a formal recruitment for the GCR post, and the process “affirmed that Mabel is the right fit for the position,” said Karl Engelbach, associate chancellor. “Mabel is an effective and collegial leader,” he said. “Her strengths in building relationships and establishing partnerships across the campus and with external stakeholders was a determining factor in her selection. She brings a wealth of experience to this position and relationships through a vast network of regional elected officials and community leaders.

Salon joined UC Davis in 1998 as the first director of community relations for the Davis campus. She developed and directed engagement strategies with local jurisdictions, economic development groups and community-based organizations to advance the overall interests of UC Davis. Prior to joining UC Davis, she was employed with the U.S. House of Representatives as a senior advisor.

She holds a bachelor’s degree in political science-public service from UC Davis and is the proud parent of a UC Davis alumnus.

Salon is a senior fellow of the American Leadership Forum and serves on the boards of director oof the Sacramento Metropolitan, Sacramento Asian Pacific and Davis chambers of commerce; Davis Downtown Business Association; Visit Sacramento; and American Red Cross.

Bret McNabb
Bret McNabb: New director of the director of the Veterinary Medical Teaching Hospital’s Large Animal Clinic.

Bret McNabb, an assistant professor of clinical livestock reproduction, has begun a five-year term as the director of the Veterinary Medical Teaching Hospital’s Large Animal Clinic.

He’s been the chief of the hospital’s Livestock Herd Health and Reproduction Service since 2013 and will continue in that role, overseeing a service that has rebuilt its caseload in recent years, in part due to the efforts of McNabb and his colleagues. McNabb has offered expanded clinical services and is the attending veterinarian for multiple campus herds belonging to the Department of Animal Science and two UC field stations.

Jane Sykes, the hospital’s chief veterinary medical officer, said McNabb “brings a wealth of experience in our hospital; a warm personality and positive outlook; a special ability to bring people together to create positive direction; and a dedication to supporting our students, clinicians, staff, clients, referring veterinarians and patients. His leadership will allow us to promote our cultural beliefs and maintain our reputation for excellence in teaching, clinical research and patient care.”

McNabb is active in maintaining a public presence for the hospital, providing veterinary services for many events throughout California, including the California State Fair and the Professional Bull Riders Tour’s annual event in Sacramento. He has also contributed materially to the design process for the new Livestock and Field Service Center, part of the future Veterinary Medical Center at UC Davis.

“I am excited for the opportunity to serve the Large Animal Clinic and strengthen our equine and livestock services,” McNabb said. “Working collaboratively with our faculty, I plan to continue our legacy of clinical excellence and fulfill the mission of the School of Veterinary Medicine.”

Ekta Vyas has been named UC Davis' deputy chief human resources officer for UC Davis Health, with a starting date of May 1. She brings with her a wealth of human resources experience in a health care setting, said Christine Lovely, chief human resources officer, who made the announcement.

Ekta Vyas mugshot

Vyas is coming here after 13 years at Stanford, most recently as HR executive director and executive HR business partner at Stanford Children’s Health-Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital Stanford.

“Ekta is certainly joining UC Davis Health at a critical time and among her initial priorities will be conducting a needs assessment, meeting her colleagues and team, and developing an understanding of the organization’s strategic direction and vision,” Lovely said.

Vyas holds a Ph.D. in organization and management with a research focus on the relationship between health care leaders' emotional intelligence and staff work engagement during transformational change.

Kristen Stevenson, a senior campus counsel, has been on temporary assignment as deputy chief human resources officer at UC Davis Health for the past seven months, and will stay on until April 30.

Lovely thanked Stevenson for her leadership. “This was a brand-new role when Kirsten stepped into it and she has exceeded all expectations, quickly adapting to the health care setting and building pivotal relationships with health care colleagues and her staff,” Lovely said.

“Kirsten’s intelligence, dedication to customer service, collegiality and unflagging commitment to solve problems and add value to the organization are above par.”

Lovely said she looks forward to continuing to partner with Stevenson as she transitions back to her legal role in the Office of Campus Counsel.

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