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Helen V. Griffith Celebrated at UC Black Administrators’ Council Conference

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UC San Diego welcomed employees from each University of California campus to participate in the 2024 University of California Black Administrators’ Council Conference.

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UC San Diego hosted the 2024 University of California Black Administrators’ Council (UCBAC) Conference entitled “Black in Action: Pursuing, Modeling and Sustaining Excellence in UC Leadership” from February 5 to 6. The annual UCBAC Conference is a professional learning experience centered on a systemwide effort to increase and support the Black presence on University of California campuses and to improve diversity in student recruitment, faculty retention, curriculum development and administration.

“UC San Diego is proud to serve as the host campus this year" said UC San Diego’s Vice Chancellor for Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Becky Petitt. “When we gather, there is power in the room. There is Black brilliance in the room. There is Black unity in the room. There is Black joy and there is Black love.”

Attendees from all 10 UC campuses participated in networking and development opportunities, enjoyed live entertainment and celebrated colleagues who were recognized for their achievements. One of three individuals to receive an award, Superintendent of The Preuss School UC San Diego Helen V. Griffith was honored with the Harry Le Grande Excellence in Mentorship Award.

Established in 2017, the award recognizes distinguished UC leaders who have had a significant impact on the career, development and success of staff and managers through mentorship, coaching, sponsorship and overall support and encouragement. Harry Le Grande, who retired as vice chancellor emeritus for student affairs after a 35-year tenure at UC Berkeley, presented the award to Griffith. 

“Mentoring is what we put in others,” said Griffith upon accepting the award. “If you are one who sees individuals and the brilliance in them…I share this with you today. If you’ve taken other people—especially those of color—to the place of prominence, power and provision so that they can fulfill their passion and destiny, I share this with you today.”

A UC San Diego alumna, Griffith returned to UC San Diego to serve as the inaugural executive director of The Preuss School in 2019. Now, as superintendent of the charter middle and high school, Griffith has doubled the number of Black faculty and staff from 5 percent to 10 percent in the past four years.

“Dr. Griffith is the blueprint for lifting others as she climbs, especially African Americans,” shared Le Grande as he spoke about her nomination for the award. “She lives the life of one who understands that the responsibility of African American leadership is to build the capacity of persons of color.”

Griffith’s more than 25 years of serving the diverse populations of San Diego as an educator and principal makes her uniquely qualified to lead The Preuss School’s mission to help students become the first in their families to graduate from college. With prior experience as the founding executive director and CEO of e3 Civic High, dean of students at Crawford High School, vice principal at Lincoln High School and founding principal of Millennial Tech Middle School, Griffith has a proven track record of supporting students and professionals around her. In all that she has done, she has shown a specialty in leadership development, educational equity, school transformation and educational entrepreneurship.

In addition to the Harry Le Grande Excellence in Mentorship Award, Griffith has received numerous professional honors including Outstanding Woman Leader in the field of Education, 79th District, by the California State Assembly in 2018 and Educator of the Year from the California League of Middle Schools in 2010. She was also selected as a 2020-21 Leader for Equity Advancement and Diversity (LEAD) Fellow to help UC San Diego create a more diverse and inclusive community where all members are welcomed, respected, valued and celebrated.

Griffith earned a bachelor’s degree in communication from UC San Diego along with a master’s degree in educational technology and a doctorate degree in educational leadership from San Diego State University. She continues to volunteer for several mentorship programs, including UC San Diego's Black Student Mentor Program (BASF); the Aztec Mentor Program; the Ebony Pearls Youth Leadership Academy in collaboration with Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Incorporated; the RISE Urban Principal Preparation Program; and Next Gen Equity.

Woman administrator sitting across from students smiling
Helen V. Griffith, Ed.D., Superintendent of The Preuss School UC San Diego

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