On June 22, UC Berkeley announced the hiring of Kellie Brennan, who started July 6 as campus’s first executive director of civil rights and whistleblower compliance.
The creation of this role is part of longtime campus efforts to eradicate harassment and discrimination for all students and faculty. As executive director, Brennan is in charge of the Office for the Prevention of Harassment and Discrimination and oversees UC Berkeley’s investigation and compliance efforts for issues regarding characteristics such as race, age, national origin, gender and sexual orientation.
Brennan was hired following a widespread search done by a committee consisting of functional partners to the executive director from the UC Berkeley campus and the UC Office of the President.
“Kellie Brennan possesses years of progressively responsible professional experiences in nondiscrimination compliance,” said UC Berkeley spokesperson Janet Gilmore in an email. “She is a seasoned higher education professional with over 16 years of experience that includes oversight of sexual misconduct investigations, management of federal audits, and adjudication of student conduct matters.”
Prior to joining UC Berkeley, Brennan most recently worked as the compliance director and Title IX/Clery coordinator at the Ohio State University.
Brennan also worked as assistant director of judicial affairs at the University of Cincinnati, the same school where she received her law degree, and as director of student conduct at Columbus State Community College.
Along with the prevention of discrimination and harassment, Brennan’s new role makes her UC Berkeley’s locally designated officer, putting her in charge of managing whistleblower complaints that fall under UC whistleblower protection policies and laws.
“That opportunity for someone to be a whistleblower is really critical, particularly for a public institution and such a prominent institution, to make sure we are addressing anything that might be inappropriate conduct of any member of our community,” Brennan said.
Brennan aims to address current harassment and discrimination issues present on campus.
In the future, she hopes to move the role from a reactive standpoint to a proactive approach that prevents these injustices from occurring.
“The need to focus on and to respect and respond to violations of our civil rights has never been more important,” Brennan said. “This is a wonderful time to have created this position, and I am looking forward to engaging with the community.”
Brennan emphasized the importance of having an office that can address discrimination based on multiple identities, as harassment is often not limited to a sole characteristic.
Gilmore expressed confidence in Brennan’s abilities and her fitness for the position.
“She demonstrated the ability to effectively communicate and establish effective professional relationships with diverse stakeholders in a complex organization,” Gilmore said in the email. “The search committee is confident in her ability to analyze, assess, and manage cross functional processes that will be important to the Executive Director role.”