California Secretary of State Shirley Weber: A Career in Public Service
In this episode, California Secretary of State Shirley Weber talks with a student and alumnus from the UC Riverside School of Public Policy about her career in public service.
FEATURING Shirley Weber
June 6th, 2022
42 MINUTES AND 04 SECONDS
In this episode, California Secretary of State Shirley Weber talks with a student and alumnus from the UC Riverside School of Public Policy about her career in public service.
About Shirley Weber:
Shirley Nash Weber, Ph.D. was nominated to serve as California Secretary of State by Governor Gavin Newsom on December 22, 2020, and sworn into office on January 29, 2021. She is California’s first Black Secretary of State and only the fifth African American to serve as a state constitutional officer in California’s 170-year history.
Learn more about Shirley Weber via https://www.sos.ca.gov/administration/about
“I didn't see politics as the only way to make a difference.”
- Shirley Weber on the topic of making a difference in our communities.
“I never felt I had to force myself to be the leader. I believe very strongly that the best people in organizations are great followers.”
- Shirley Weber on the topic of leadership.
“Never wait for the big moment. Do it now.”
- Shirley Weber on the topic of getting involved and making a difference.
Shirley Weber (California Secretary of State)
Kevin Karami (UCR Public Policy Major, Dean’s Chief Ambassador)
Maddie Bunting (UCR Public Policy Alumnus)
Commercial Links: https://spp.ucr.edu/ba-mpp
This is a production of the UCR School of Public Policy: https://spp.ucr.edu/
Subscribe to this podcast so you don’t miss an episode. Learn more about the series and other episodes via https://spp.ucr.edu/po
Intro: Welcome to policy chats, the official podcast of the School of Public Policy at the University of California, Riverside. I'm your host, Kevin Karami. Join me and my classmates as we learn about potential policy solutions for today's biggest societal challenges. Joining us today is California Secretary of State Dr. Shirley Weber. School of Public Policy alum Maddie Bunting and I chatted with her about her career in public service.
Kevin Karami: Shirley Weber was nominated to serve as California's Secretary of State by Governor Gavin on December 22nd, 2020 and sworn into office on January 29th, 2021. She is California's first African American Secretary of State, and only the fifth African-American to serve as a state constitutional officer in California's 170-year-long history. Dr. Webber, it is an honored to have you here with us today.
Dr. Weber: Well, thank you for the invitation. I always love talking to students, I kind of miss you guys. I'm kinda in withdrawal after 40 years of teaching, but it's always good to be with students.
Kevin Karami: Well, that's great to hear. I know everyone's excited to start getting to know you. So I'm going to start with a very general question. How did you get involved in public service and politics?
Dr. Weber: You know I saw that question and I was thinking to myself, how far back do you go? You know, I don't remember a moment in time when I really became involved in it. I think a part of my family's life has always been a life of service. Whether it's in a church or a community, always trying to make a difference, making sure that we help their neighbors and our friends and those who have lost loved ones. My mother was always the person on the block taking food to their homes, making sure that they were secure. Volunteering me to write all the obituaries in the neighborhood because I had good writing skills. So I learned a lot about the people in the community where I lived. But always believing that we had to do what we could to make the world a little bit better and make life a little easier for people. So I've always had this as a part of my existence and always sought ways and at the church where I was attending as a young person, how we could make a difference as young people not waiting for us to become adults, but seeing the problems that we face. And so at about 15 or 16, because I went to a very large church, we decided we were going to host a Thanksgiving dinner for those who didn't have food and around the church in the neighborhood. And the church was kinda shocked, but we had a well-organized and we basically asked for them to donate the food. So some members donated that turkey dinner and this and that. And so as young people, we put on the very first giveaway, food good giveaway at that church way back in the early sixties. And so I've always had that as a part of my existence. My engagement with politics was always that I was going to help somebody run for office. I was definitely going to vote. I was definitely going to pay attention and help educate people about voting, but never saw myself as a politician other than maybe student government when you participate in volunteer things, but it was not on my agenda that someday I would run for political office. No, Never, ever. I was just going to make sure that I did the best because I was, I love teaching, I love being in schools and I love watching young people learn and grow. See their eyes open wide when they really discovered something exciting. So I never saw myself as a politician. And to this day I still argue that I'm not a politician because I don't always act like a politician. I have to say that I don't always do the same things as other politicians do. And I'm a little bit different than that, but, but obviously, you want to make things happen. You learn very quickly that sometimes you have to step forward and do that. Because that's probably the fastest way to make change.
Maddie Bunting: It's so inspiring to hear you talk about how active you've been forever for its all you really know. I think that's such a wonderful trait that your families instilled in you. I'm just curious. Do you have any specific experience or moments that sparked your interest in getting involved in public service and politics. It seems like you talked about public service. But any specific, did you just think politics, government was the place where you could do the most work?
Dr. Weber: Well, you know what, I've always been drafted. I have to be very honest about that. I have never volunteered to run for anything. I've always been drafted. And it's not that I was afraid of politics. I just felt that I was so busy, I was always doing something else. It seemed to be more exciting. I probably got some of the political profile I think in terms of politics because the area in which I went to at the university in terms of Black Studies, immediately throws you into a political arena. You go there with an academic mission and you discover that there's an awful lot of politics that has to be played. That you have to figure out the academic senate and you have to figure out how communities can come and move. An institution like a university that is, that claimed that it's liberal and it's open and what have you, but it is more entrenched and tradition and itself than any institution I'd ever been in. So I had to learn that. I mean, I was 23 years old university professor trying to study black studies because we've been brought in to do that. And I had to learn the politics of the campus. I had to learn the politics of the black community because it was the community that was really pushing the agenda for ethnic studies and women's organizations and the others that were outside. And so I became the kind of the voice and the face of ethnic studies and all the ethnic studies groups that were there at a very young age. So I didn't have to begin to push the university, push the academic senate, get on every freaking committee they had in order to make a difference. And so I had to learn the politics of the university who's in power, how to deal with folks who have egos and those that don't have egos and how to basically make them moving in our direction. But equally important, how to deal with the black community and the Chicano communities that were there because they were the ones really with the power. We could have been just completely ignored and wiped out. Because students have a tendency to change. Every three to four years they're graduating, they're moving on, they're doing their thing. And so when you've got something that you want to establish that's permanent, like an ethnic studies department. You have to have a permanent support base. You have to have folks who are going to be there. And that turns out to be the people who live in those neighborhoods, who live in those black communities, who are part of those organizations that pushed hard to get ethnic studies. They're gonna be there longer than the students. The students each time we'll come in and add energy to it and push it. But it's really that force that's outside or the faculty for sets within. And so I had to learn the black community. I had to, I was involved in it when I was in Los Angeles, but when I went to San Diego, I had to really entrenched myself, in that community so that they would have confidence in me. They would see me as a leader, that they would come to campus to help us out. And we had to go to meetings to explain to them the dynamics that were occurring and where the political base was and the political power. Because most of those communities had very little contact with universities and with power bases and institutions because they seem so moved and so far off. And they were stints and all these rules of senates and tenure and non-tenure and all these kinds of things. At a very early age, I got thrown in the fire. I got thrown in fire. And as a result of that, I kind of met people along the way who then when I had children, I got even more in the fire because they were in school and I had to then deal with the school board and challenge some of the policies that I thought were inadequate. Being an activist and studying black movements. The first thing I knew that if I wanted my schools to be better, my children had to be in those schools that I couldn't have put them in private school because then that allows me to only participate as an observer. When my kid was enrolled in that school in the black community. I was in the school. I was the school, I was the force. So that if the school is going to get better, It's because I had people that were going to work in and do it. And so I recruited other black parents to come to the school when my kids were parents with teachers and others at some former students of mine because we want to make a difference at in Canto elementary school. And we did. And so as a result, we got very involved with the policies that the school board, some policy, the policies that were very detrimental to black and brown communities, poor communities. And we've got involved. And I discovered that because I had all this PhD in some time and some knowledge that the community people loved it because then I can write the documents for them. I could go before the board and articulately express better than Board members themselves are policies that they would try to push on us. And so people began to activate themselves and become involved. And that was great because it was really the community pushing forward with what it wanted. And interestingly enough, that's how people decided you got to run for school board and ask like, Oh, no, wrong decision. Let's go a different direction. Let's change this drama. But that's how I actually got into the school thing, the K-12 school. When I was at university. I got in there because my kids were there because the issues are there, but they were integrating schools they were doing they were making policies that will not beneficial to the kids at that school and my kids were in that school. So it's not like I could talk about it in some distant way. This was direct and this was appealing and appeal to Canto elementary school, my kids, my friends kids, and we could make a difference. And we learned that very quickly as a result of the things that we introduced for the campus to do. So it was, it was, it was truly baptism by fire without intentions at all. But we got involved in that kind of push toward me, I should say, in terms of looking for me for leadership.
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Kevin Karami:That's really great to hear Dr. Weber. I think it's really interesting that you mentioned that you in a lot of ways we're kind of thrust into your positions, into your roles. And it wasn't so much so that you volunteered, but that other people around you helped push you into those positions of influence and power and the various positions that you served in. I think that's a really, really interesting note because I haven't, in my experience, I haven't really met anyone who's described it like that. And usually it's a personal desire to want to get involved or run for office or what not. But the fact that there was this kind of almost community support is really, really interesting to hear On that note.
Maddie Bunting: I'm sorry. I'm so sorry. I just want to say that such a huge compliment that people for your entire career are seeking you out. I just think that for me, especially a public policy student and someone interested in government and policy, that is just the highest compliment of you meeting the test, but everyone's rallying around you and guiding you in this path and wanting you and recognizing all your strengths and everything.
Dr. Weber: That's true. But also because I didn't see politics as the only way I could make a difference. You see, I believe very strongly that it didn't matter where I was going to be, I was going to help. I was gonna do something. I was going to make a difference if it's, working in a social organization and the community which I worked in a lot of them. And I didn't have to be the leader. I'd never felt I had to thrust myself to be the leader. I believe very strongly that the best people in organizations have great followers. I mean, folks who can follow through on things who can work with the leader that's there. I had no problems in following folks, I had no problems and being a great leader, a great member of an organization. And so I didn't, it wasn't the only way to make a difference. And I think sometimes when I meet people and they believe that the only thing they can do is run for office. The only thing way they can make a difference is to become an elected official. I think that is so I don't know. It's not that I want to kill people's desire to run for office because I think people who want to run should run. But it's somehow now limits your view of the world because only one person is go in. So if you don't win, what do you do? You sit around and wait to win? No. You keep working in the world where you live. You make a difference where you are. It doesn't matter whether you that assembly member or your on the staff of the volunteer for the assembly member, you have a task, an opportunity to make a difference. And so that's why my kids always say I'll never stopped working and that's probably true because I'll always make a difference. They said, What do you do when you are no longer in office? I said I'm going to do what I'm doing now. I'm going to help kids. I'm going to advocate for stuff. I'm going to find a way to do something. I'm going to create an international programs that I've done before to help young people travel and see the world. And I'm going to deal with the issues of race and try to change that. I mean, there's just so much to do that. Elected officials can do some of that and some will. But there's also so much that you can do just as a citizen, just as a person in your community, just as a student at your school. I had so many students who did so many amazing things when they were students. Amazing things. Some of them have moved on and some of them have taken those things they've done and turn them into life work. And so it doesn't necessarily mean we all have to be elected officials. It's good. We get elected officials who will respond to the needs and helpless. But elected officials need strong community leaders and people in the community to add life to the policies that we make. I mean, I didn't see it as something that I had to do to make a difference it out in sometimes it makes it easier. Sometimes it complicates matters. But I was just a servant. And every time I looked around, somebody was calling me because they knew I was strong. I was determined I wouldn't give up I wouldn't sell them out. Nobody could buy me. I wasn't looking for a job in the communities. I wasn't pumping from the poor. I mean, I was just trying to make the world better. And it was always a compliment when people come to me and I said, You know what, I think we can find somebody else. Then they would always say no, we found somebody. And sometimes I'd argue with them and make them find somebody else. But it's nice that people think that you can do things. It is a compliment, is a compliment that people see you. Even when you're not trying to be seen. You just do what you gotta do.
Kevin Karami: I think that's such a powerful message. You don't have to be elected official in top-level of government to actually make a difference, to actually give back to the community. And you see a lot where, where people feel that they need that position, they need that power. They need those connections that influence or whatnot to actually serve their communities to actually make a difference, a positive difference. But I think it's so amazing. Given your history and then all the amazing work you've done that even you would admit that you don't have to do you don't have to go down that path to make a difference. I think that is such a, such a powerful message. On that note, I do want to ask you, we talk about you don't have to be in elected office, but you did serve as the assembly member in California and on-campus with a lot of students who are interested in that. Who are interested in getting involved in that capacity. I wanted to ask, what's your experience? What was your experience like? Running for office, running a campaign, and then actually being an assembly member. What was that experience like?
Dr. Weber: I tell people all the time if you want to run, you have to really commit yourself. And that's something that you want to do because it is a very lonely experience. Most people don't talk about it that way, but it is a lonely experience. Then once you decide to run, they'll be people who will come and go if you will stay. But in the end it is you, you are the one who has to do all the stuff that's necessary. You have to make all the appearances. You have to beg for money. You have to raise the money that's there. You have to take all the stress because it's extremely stressful. I mean, people call you with all kinds of things late at night, early in the morning. I saw you your opponent on television. Why weren’t you there data that, Oh my God, I'm telling you it can drive you insane. I mean, people will, because they want you to win and they're nervous about it and they don't have the big picture of everything that's taking place. So it is a very stressful kind of experience. And then when you run for an area and when you run and you've never had not yourself had someone as a role model to work with it with you, it becomes really difficult. I was fortunate Toni Atkins had had helped me, wanted me to run, talked me into running and say that help you with it. And that was great because she did. But I didn't have an African American role model. I didn't have someone who understand the issues of not only gender, but also issues of race. I didn't have when you're running in a city like San Diego where there's never been an African-American who was actually won an assembly seat in the history of California. And you're running in this office and you try to manage not only one community, but several different communities meet those needs that are there. You hope you're doing the right thing. You've got a great campaign people. And I had, when I ran for the Senate, I had a great person who understood my story. And that was important because in my story became the things that people remember who I was, where I came from, how I had come from projects to Arkansas and projects onto universities and began to interact with the net circle. Because when you, when you're in a city like San Diego in this situation, I go to events and this is even before I ran, I was the only African-American enrolled. I was only African-American female. Sometimes every now and then there'd be a male. But most of the time in the high level political world that operated in at that time, I was the only African-American in the room. You got a tremendous amount of pressure because everybody knows who you are, because you're the only African American in the room. And everybody watches and everybody's looking for what you're gonna do in the signs and symbols. And so it became very, very, it can be very stressful. At that point, it can be very stressful. But I had great staff. I had people who believed in me. I had some older women on my block who validate and have a lot of money. But they said they were going to open my campaign office every day from nine to 5, 7 days a week. And they did it without any pay. And that was their contributions, to the campaign. And they had all retired. So they were in their seventies and they were retired. But they kept my campaign office open and professional and that was their contribution to the campaign. And I'll never forget those two women. I don't care what table I buy it some banquet or whatever. They are the first ones at the table. Because, because they gave such a tremendous sacrifice to the campaign and it was that kind of huge sometimes run across that kind of commitment that is permanent because other people go and come, they want to see if he's going to win because then they could get a job working for you or whatever it may be. But I had, I had a couple of really, really amazing individuals who focused on that, who focus to work on my campaign and just were awesome in terms of what they provide it. And I had a great campaign person, but I also in running the good thing with me as I had had 40 years of serving this community as a professor, as a school board member, as a member of NAACP, the Urban League, the Jackie Robinson, why the United Way? I had had a long history of service so that they knew me. And that made it easier even though I was running a campaign or six or seven other people, I have the longest history of knowledge. So when people saw my name, when students saw my name, who lived, who had now lived in San Diego. When other faculty saw my name when people in communities, they recognize the name that was important. And I tell people your name is extremely important. So it was, it was challenging to now look at folks and have it raised money. That's the hardest thing for me is to raise money and beg people. I'm good. I'm begging for other people. I'm not good at begging for myself. And I had to be trained to believe that I was worthy of votes given to me because I'm so used to getting it for someone else and not for me. But it was a difficult was it wasn't a hard campaign. It was just that it was a transition in my life where I plan on doing something totally different. And all of a sudden I had to transition now and become a candidate. Answering to people, making sure that I can respond to folks, and then dealing with the naysayers. I mean, I had people told me I was too old to run. A woman told me that I was just too old run. I never had a woman who was about my age, who's who's in who's against age? And she said, You're not gonna be able to do very much. And she went on until it was funny because about five or six years later I saw and she goes, Oh my God, you've done more than all the young people in the assembly. That kind of stuff. That's it that age and experience helps because you don't have as much anxiety about life as a young folks do when they try them. Balance all these things in their future. But, but it was, very stressful. But I had to learn a lot because in the past I've kinda ran a campaign or whatever and one but, but to have a campaign that was in San Diego and in Sacramento, I had people in Sacramento who didn't believe in me because they said they didn't know me. And I said, Well, it's not important that, you know, only important in San Diego knows because those are the folks who vote for me. And so they will all shocked when I won. It's such a large number because in the primary because they just figured, we don't know this woman. She's not a mayor, She's not a city council member. She's not working here in Sacramento. She's not a part of our party or group in terms of activity. And so as a result, they would look like we don't know her and Tony Atkins was saying, but you will one of those guys and she gives him but you will when you meet her, you will know what you've missed out on all your life. And so it's really kinda funny, but it was a difficult campaign to constantly try to sell yourself after so many years of working in communities and things of that nature. But I took it as a really unique opportunity once I discovered that no African-American had ever won the seatbefore, I realized that if nothing else, I had to win. So they could realize if they could, they could actually break this wall down that had been up and many people had run before, but they had never won. And I thought, okay, I can't lose. I can't lose because if I lose maybe another 15-20 years for anybody tried to run again, believing that this is something just can happen in San Diego because San Diego doesn't have a large black population. It, but it does have an opportunity for people to meet an awful lot of people. And there are a lot of people here who will evaluate you based on who you are and what you've done much more than the color of your skin. And that was one of the things I was pleased about us and we're going to break this barrier down. And then I committed myself to saying I may be the first, but I won't be the last and began to work with women to help them run for office in San Diego. We've got a number of black women who are running for office, who are holding positions almost every election. There's a couple of black women on the ballots and we're running for various positions. And we work with them to try to help them understand that this is possible that you don't have to be in a community that 50% African-American to run for office so that you can run because you're a good person. And it was an interesting campaign. And after that, people knew who I was. And it wasn't. Every election was a little bit easier than the last. But surely it, it challenges you. And I can say it's a lonely experience because when you get these crazy calls or you see these polls that you have people calling you. You know, you have to still believe in yourself when nobody else does.
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Maddie Bunting: Absolutely, in representation is so important you've had such a unique experience. And I'm so glad that we have you on this podcast to share your thoughts. In everything that you've gone through to get where you are today. And it's just really impressive and I'm so glad to have this opportunity to speak with you. I'm curious, moving on in a different capacity at the state level. What has your experience been as California's Secretary of State?
Dr. Weber: Lot of folks don't know what a Secretary of State is. Especially young people, I think I'd take minutes of meetings. I said no. But then they know something about Secretaries of State and they think it's an international experience and we do some international things. And when you do submit a national verifications of deaths and deaths at birth certificates and all those kinds of things. But we spent a little bit of time explaining to people what the Secretary of State does and the important role that it is. And then people become impressed when they discover that other constitutional officers, there are eight of them. Secretary State's number three, It's governor, lieutenant governor, then it's a Secretary of State. In terms of succession, if something were to happen to people, you become governor eventually at some point. So that in itself kinda emphasizes the relationship between what we do and what other others do as well. It's been an interesting experience and coming into because I'm coming out of them. A situation where one chair of a department and so you have that kind of academic world. And so then I transitioned to being in a legislature. The legislature is a little different because it has it has very specific goals in terms of writing legislation and doing those kind of things. But also a constituency that is only 0.5 million people. So you have a smaller world to deal with. When you, when you say what your state to deal with the whole state, that's number one. You have the whole state. You've got, which means your constituency is 40 million people. You got tremendous responsibilities in terms of all these different layers is seven different departments. And the Secretary of State's office, there are over 600 employees in the Secretary of State's office. You have a really almost like a little country that you're running itself because you've got personnel departments, you've got an IT department, you've got folks who work on policies and legislation. We've got a whole election unit. We've got all the businesses and non-profits. So it's a huge operation. But when you break it down in some way, It's just like the assembly. It's people. It's people trying to do a good job. And I, in the past, one of the things that I'm doing now with this organization is helping them to understand that it's not just Shirley Weber the Secretary of State, It's all of us, all six of us serving the people of California. I have always operated. As I said, this is a family that when you have issues and concerns, we all work on it. Then when you rise, all of us rise when anything fails, we all fail. And so therefore we have to all put our energy into it. So we're slowly structuring the organization so that it's not all these silos, but really a family. And I had a guy the other day I was working with and he he was one of our departments and they were sharing with me all the new things that they're doing. And then he began to cry and say, this is the first time I really had anybody in this office to care about us. I said, Well, this is a family. This is my this is my my family Monday through Thursday. You folks are the ones that I'm working with. We're basically going to be successful together or we are going to fall on our face together and we were determined to be successful. So it's been a unique experience for me to work with a state agency because oftentimes people who run those state agencies come and go and they don't, they only serve a certain period of time and I've spent a lot of time knowing that when I've worked with in an agency, whether it's a university of whatever, is that the people who work there, if they feel loyal to you, they will give you everything they have. They will make sure it happens. They will make sure that it takes place. They will, they will want to be, they will be concerned about your image. I've got people on my staff at the state level who've been with me since I was a Assembly Member. When I first went into office, some of them were volunteered and to work on my campaign. And they helped me every step of the way so that when I decided to go and when I decided when I was offered Secretary of State, they had to think about it because some were thinking of retiring. And they decided to ever said You can't leave over there by yourself. You gotta go with them. And that's what they did. They came over and they've been a part of the team. They've been helping them understand the culture that I bring to the Secretary of State's office. Because I do I treat them like family. They're like family they’re in San Diego. They are visiting me, their family, I'm helping them structure their lives and their children and families because once I once I care about you and you care about me than when we're never going to fail, we're always going to grow, develop. And so I've spent some time working with with everyone in our department to make sure that we work together, that I get to know them. I do the same thing with all 58 counties. I've called every county, registrar voter to talk to them, to get to know them personally and know their families, to help them, to protect them in these times of difficulty. Because once you do that, they become loyal to you and they work with you and they have the same value and commitment about what we should need to do for California. But you do, you just not out there by yourself and failing on your own, they're gonna make you successful. I found this to be true in the assembly. I knew something about everybody's family and assembly. Not to be nosy, but to be helpful. When I had students that they've maybe even Republicans and they would come and say, I want my son to talk to you because he's trying to go to college and he can’t make a decision. I was okay because they all knew I knew a little bit about universities and I would have him call me and we talk about what they wanna do and where they are and what they're going to be, those kinds of things. The same is true with their wives. Some we're going back to school, want to know what to do. And so you end up getting to know them because they are people and the policies you write about people, elections about people and businesses about people. And so I want them to understand that I care as much about them as I do the job that we're doing together will obviously do a better job. So it was interesting to me because it was it was quite a change because I had didn't have I've never had 600 people responding to me at once. And so trying to develop a, an organization that is effective and that runs effectively for California with 600 people is quite a change, quite an operation. But it's been, it's been a good change for them and it's been a good change for me to test my skills and my my passion and my drive and my ability to lead a large organization. And it takes the same skill to run a little one as it does a big one if you pay attention carefully.
Kevin Karami: So thank you so much, Dr.Weber. I think that was it was so interesting to hear your thoughts on the, on your current position, how it relates the similarities and differences between that and your experience as an assembly member. And then also how one thing that I love, this theme that you keep talking about, this camaraderie, this teamwork, this community. Yes, you're the Secretary of State, but there's a team behind you and that the value yet you put into your staff. It's just so amazing to see because I feel like a lot of people, a lot of members of the public might perceive it as, might not see that. They don't see that. But it's great to hear that you value, your value, that people that have helped you out throughout your career. And it's just so amazing to hear. In that same vein, to kind of wrap things. I wanted to ask. You know, we've talked a lot about public service. Your, it seems like you've devoted your entire life to public service. What about students like us or other community members? What advice do you have for people who maybe aren't as involved right now, but want to get involved in helping their communities, in helping their schools or any other organizations. What, what kind of advice would you give to students and other members of the community who are interested in that kind of public service that you've been describing.
Dr. Weber: One of the things I always say is that never wait for the big moment. Do it now. You know, when I think about all the things I've been involved in, never really probably been in involved in anything that's really, really big. You know, when you get a lot of credit from and become famous for being on so-and-so's team, whatever. I don't know. Because people wait for that. Sometimes you waste a lot of valuable time and you miss some wonderful lessons because you've missed the opportunity to do the small things. And it's so small things that create the big things. There's so much to do. I tell young people, just think about what you wanna do and start putting it together. My friends always complain that I'm forever dragging them into bust up there my age and so but they can think about when I wanted to decided I was gonna do a special program to take kids to Africa. I didn't have any money.
I just had some folks thinking about it and working on it and we started it. And that led to my study abroad program at San Diego State. And then it led to my girl friend, me demanding that she bring the high-school students from Crawford on with us to South Africa. And he's a kids are kids who've never been on a plane, never been out of San Diego. All the work that we did in finding agencies to work with and that kind of stuff. I didn't wait for the program, to do water for Africa. Not that that's a bad program. There were just things that we could do on that campus to make a difference and we did it. There were things that communities that you can think about that you can go into. Their kids will need to be tutored. They need help. Find your passion. What do you really want to do? What do you really love in a small way? And then do it, began to do it. And you will be surprised that it will lead you into other areas that you had never dreamed of going before. If it's working on a campaign is voluntary. I had so many students who came to this volunteer in my office. And one of them eventually came to Sacramento with me. And as a student and did an internship and her energy about a few things that were small, initially grew into such an enormous program. She taught me about EBT, food stamps and she taught me and students needing it. So when you look at all the legislation idea about homeless students and food banks on every campus. When I go on campus is now people say, here's a food bank as a result of AB, blah, blah, blah,. Because we had to remove some barriers to let food banks bring food onto campus. Things that were just crazy policies, it didn't make sense. All of those things emanated from one girl who came to volunteer in my office, who came to volunteer on my campaign. Then decided she wanted to go and take a semester and volunteer at Sacramento State at Sac State. And work in my office and began to educate me and my staff about the life of a student. And as a result, all the students started coming with issues about fees being raised in this taking place and that taking place. And much of that legislation revolve around this one girl who told us about food stamps and a problem she had and getting food on campus. So when I look at that, all you do now is work on students and he did all his death to help college students. And it really was this one girl. There's one person I saw it not long ago who basically came and did and helped us begin the process. So never underestimate your ideas. The little things that are there that an elected official won't take you in to help you. And some things, or some agency who needs some people, just a volunteer to come pass out food at a food bank or something. Never underestimate the power of the little things you do. I sat with a student recently when I was in the assembly, I sat when she came to visit me in office and my office, I kept looking at her face because she looked familiar. And she was a student who decided to go to South Africa with me. Her mother gave her the money, she decided to go and she saw the hunger in South Africa. And now she's in charge of this food program is International Food Program. And she found the passion to do as a result of that work and constantly working with the South African kids when she came back. And now she's running this program, a national program and international program on food insecurity. And it was so interesting too, because she said it was one experience that gave her something to do that she realized that that was her passion. Rather than sit and wait, students, this is your moment. Don't take, don't, don't believe you're the future you are the now Get it done. Find something on your campus, has a lot of stuff in Riverside and there's a lot of things in Riverside community that needs help. It needs students who know how to read and write and write things. I wrote all the obituaries in my community. Why? Because I knew how to write a My mother said that other folks didn't know how to write. And so everybody had somebody died. I had to go into my neighborhood, go to the neighbor's house and write the obituary of her son or this one or that one. I learned a lot about those folks. I learned a lot about my community. I learned a lot about their needs. And so never turned down these opportunities because you'd be surprised how they open doors for you to do things that you'd never dreamt up before. I tell people some of the things that I, as a teenager, I did an album, a gospel album, and took my friends across country to promote this album. I mean, I was 20 years old, 21 years old. But we wanted to do it. We formed an octet. We were really good and well known. And then we decided we wanted to go across country to do this, this program. And so we had been seeing these songs. We raise the money. We went to the studio, create the Album, got the cover, did the whole bit back in the day and had a great time doing it. It's the part of our life when we were in our 20s that that, you know, if we had been like others and said, Well, we don't have a promoter and we don't have a director and we don't have a we don't have a we don't have we don't have we wouldn't have done anything. Okay. So do what you want to do. It's your opportunity to try things, make mistakes, do good work, find meaning in your life. Stop waiting for tomorrow. It is now, it is now that you make a difference. You don't have to be an elected official. You'd have much more fun not being one.
Kevin Karami: I think that is an amazing note to end on. You don't have to wait for tomorrow to do it now. And I think that message that you that you mentioned about not waiting for the big moment and no waiting for the big things but that the little things do matter is so powerful coming from your experience and your physician, Dr. Weber, it was amazing to hear you speak on not only your career in public service and the amazing work you've done, But the message that you, not only that you give, but that you also embodied yourself. It was an honor to speak with you.
Dr. Weber: Thank you very much for the invitation. Thanks to both of you. And thanks very much, Kevin. I enjoyed it. And the gentleman who's on here with me, he's been with me since the beginning. He's one of those folks who's been loyal and faithful and diligent and hardworking and makes my office of what it is. I thank him so much Joe, for being online with us today.Thank you.
Outro: This Podcast is a production of the UC Riverside School of Public Policy. Our theme music was produced by C code. I'm Kevin Karami. Until next time.