Last week, the Leo T. McCarthy Center announced two new members to its advisory board: Scott Shafer, a veteran political journalist, and Perla Rodriguez ‘10, a corporate leader and USF alumna.
The new members are set to join a board whose backgrounds range from the governmental and public service sector to the corporate and entrepreneurial fields. According to Leslie Lombre, associate director of the McCarthy Center, Rodriguez and Shafer attended their first board meeting on Oct. 21.
In a written statement, McCarthy Center senior director Derick Brown said, “The Board of the McCarthy Center serves as a source of guidance for the general direction of the Center’s programs and its activities. That is why it is important to secure passionate and ethical leaders to serve on the McCarthy Center Board … Perla and Scott are uniquely well-suited for the McCarthy Center Board and we are so lucky to have them.”
Scott Shafer is currently the senior editor of the California politics and government desk at KQED, San Francisco’s NPR member radio station. Before becoming a political reporter and analyst, Shafer served in various positions in California politics and government, including as press secretary to former San Francisco Mayor Art Agnos and chief of staff to State Controller Gray Davis. In 1998, Shafer decided to move on from being in politics to covering it instead.
Shafer co-hosts a weekly podcast show at KQED, “Political Breakdown.” Shafer has received numerous awards throughout his career as a journalist and has been a fixture in California election coverage for the last 22 years. He has also extensively covered the issue of same-sex marriage in the state, from the infamous Proposition 8 campaign (“Eliminates Right of Same-Sex Couples to Marry”) in 2008 to the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision to legalize gay marriage in 2015.
Shafer was unavailable to be interviewed for this story, but Brown in his statement implied, given his experience, his addition to the board will be helpful. “As a long time leader with roots in politics/government and [the] radio broadcasting sector, Scott brings a wealth of knowledge and expertise to the Board.”
For Perla Rodriguez, this new role is a chance she could not turn down. She said she was excited when she was contacted by the board’s committee of nominators. Rodriguez earned a master’s of public administration degree from USF and graduated in 2010. This will be her first time working with the University since her graduate studies. “I was both intrigued by the idea of reconnecting with USF, which has given me so much as a professional, and at the same time, I found it quite an opportunity to work with an issue such as public service,” Rodriguez said.
Rodriguez currently serves as the CEO of Voler Strategic Advisors, a strategic communication firm based in San Jose. Through her company’s focus is on public relations, Rodriguez has gained plenty of experience in the field of public affairs as well. She was also the vice president of public affairs for Mi Pueblo Foods, a now-defunct Northern California grocery chain. Additionally, Rodriguez has wide-ranging experience in media and corporate philanthropy.
“No matter which company I’ve worked for, part of my role has been to serve the community,” Rodriguez said. “Over the course of many years, I’ve been involved in developing new scholarship programs and helping young people pursue their higher education and it’s something that I’ve really enjoyed.”
Rodriguez said she thinks that the center can have a meaningful impact on USF students. As an undergraduate student at Stanford University, Rodriguez said she participated in a similar institution to the McCarthy Center, where she received opportunities like internships.
A first-generation college student in her own right, Rodriguez asserts that she had to rely on these programs as a student. “I think those opportunities really opened my eyes to the world outside of the University and I really believe the Center can have an impact in helping cultivate leadership for the community,” she said. “I think at USF, we currently have young people who are future representatives, people who will serve in local cities, but it’s really up to us in the professional world to open those doors and that kind of exposure.”