California State University, Fullerton

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Frances Teves Honored for Higher Ed Advocacy

Director of state relations celebrated by her peers for innovative leadership

Dec. 4, 2012

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Director of state relations selected by her peers for the 2012 Award for Innovation during the Higher Education Government Relations Conference in Miami.

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She is recognized as a moving force not only on campus but throughout the local community and the state, and now Frances Teves, Cal State Fullerton's director of state relations, has been honored among her peers with the 2012 Edwin Crawford Award for Innovation. She was recognized Nov. 29 during the Higher Education Government Relations Conference in Miami.

"I am an advocate at heart," Teves said in accepting the award. "Long before I knew such a term or profession existed. I grew up in a really strict household and at an early age advocacy became a form of self-expression by giving voice to those I felt didn't have one ... I never thought that I would actually get paid to advocate."

The Crawford Award is one of two such awards presented annually by the Council for Advancement and Support of Education, the American Association of Community Colleges, the Association of Public and Land-Grant Universities and the American Association of State Colleges and Universities. The award recognizes an outstanding state relations officer who is relatively new to the profession and who has exhibited great effort, initiative and innovation in achieving the legislative goals of their institution or system.

"Higher education can transform one's life, shape a community, prepare a workforce, ensure the economic vitality of a state, and make a nation more competitive in global marketplace," said Teves. "In our work representing colleges and universities, higher education intersects with other public policy issues — allowing us to advocate for sustainability, healthy communities, veterans, and it goes on and on.... While always meaningful, the work is never easy and it is never done alone. And, lastly, it doesn't happen unless you work for a boss and university that not only values innovation, but fosters it.

"Together, we have our work cut out for us.... to protect this public good and communicate that preserving higher education is in the public interest because our future literally depends on it."

The CSUF alumna — she earned a bachelor's degree in psychology in 1999 — has served as the university's director of state relations since 2004, working with elected officials, students, faculty, staff and community members, as well as with her counterparts at neighboring universities, community colleges and school districts. She is currently completing an M.A. program in public policy at USC.

Lauded by both local and state officials

Among those who laud her qualities and accomplishments is fellow alumnus state Sen. Lou Correa. "Frances is an articulate and effective advocate for her university and higher education. She approaches her work with integrity, professionalism and an understanding of how to navigate within our state's legislative landscape.

"She has led delegations to visit with me in Sacramento to advocate on variety of issues ranging from the need to reinvest in higher education to authorizing the CSU to offer the nursing doctorate to help address workforce needs," Correa noted in nomination of Teves. "Over the years, I have partnered with Ms. Teves and the university to specifically promote healthy living to reduce childhood obesity, and improve access to higher education. I have also served on a steering committee on a summit to address academic achievement gap in our community. Our partnerships affirm her belief that the educational community must remain on the forefront as we find ways to address a variety of public policy issues."

Sharon Quirk-Silva, mayor of the city of Fullerton, agreed, noting that on many joint efforts undertaken by the university and the city, "Frances is the key to these successful efforts ... I greatly appreciate her work and can attest to her accomplishments."

As an example, Quirk-Silva pointed to the 2009 Addressing the Achievement Gap Summit held on campus. "Frances served as lead staff and worked closely with me in the 10 months leading up to the summit. We raised over $22,000 and convened over 300 stakeholders representing policymakers, legislators, education, business and community leaders. Three subsequent summits have followed utilizing the handbook she created and the fifth summit will return to Cal State Fullerton in the fall of 2013.

"I can also attest to Frances' work with students in our community. Frances has reached out to student leaders to directly engage them in advocacy efforts with myself and other elected officials," Quirk-Silva said. "She has greatly increased students' critical role in engaging with elected officials. Through her leadership and collaborative work style, Frances encouraged them to become involved in legislative matters."

Kristin S. Crellin, executive director of school and community relations at SchoolsFirst Credit Union, pointed to legislative visits to Sacramento and Washington, D.C. she attended with Teves and complemented the campus director for her thoroughness in preparation, planning and follow-up. "She has most definitely made contributions to the advancement, quality and effectiveness of state relations for CSU Fullerton, Orange County higher education and the CSU system as a whole."

Achievements Recognized on Campus and Within the CSU

"Frances is not only one of the best advocates within the California State University system; she is also one of the most creative in developing new approaches and tools that provide results," said Karen Y. Zamarripa, CSU assistant vice chancellor, advocacy and state relations. "Frances is never without a new idea or approach in making the case for her campus and CSU. She has been a leader in the use of our e-advocacy system from the beginning and has broadened its impact with the use of social media. But as Frances often does, she took our efforts to the next level, crating a Twitter campaign ("CSU is the Heart of California") that started off at her home campus and was subsequently launched on all 23 CSU campuses on Valentine's Day.

"She has also been a leader in creating new tools; specifically advocacy cards," Zamarripa added. "Fashioned after baseball cards, Frances developed a card for each member of the Fullerton legislative delegation with picture, background, and contact information to make it easy by advocates to get to know their representatives and have the information they needed to take action when the time arose. Later this fall, she will take it to the next step — adding the results from our system Legislative Scorecard for each member so that we also provide the accountability we believe necessary to get policymakers to do the right thing.

"The CSU is very lucky to have Frances Teves as part of our team. There is never a time that she does not give it her all and, more often than not, with innovative strategies and approaches that I believe make a huge difference in our success with immediate issues but also building the image of the system with the public and their elected officials," said Zamarripa.

"One of the earliest examples of Frances' collaboration and innovation is "Querer es Poder: 50 Examples," a photo exhibit launched during Cal State Fullerton's 50th anniversary celebration in 2009," said Owen Holmes, associate vice president of governmental and community relations. "Translated 'Querer es Poder' means 'if you have the desire, you can achieve.' The project's goal was to inspire and motivate young people to attain a college education. Led by government relations, it was jointly sponsored with public affairs and student affairs. The photo exhibit highlighted 50 of our successful Latino alumni and traveled to Fullerton, Irvine and Santa Ana. It won a gold medal in the 2009 Council for Advancement and Support of Education (CASE) Circle of Excellence Awards Program. Judges remarked that the exhibit was chosen for the national award — a top winner in the Diversity Programs category — because it was the first time Latino alumni had been honored in such a way."

Holmes also pointed to Teves' "Reinvest in Higher Education" postcard campaign developed with the university's Associated Students Inc. "The postcards featured photos of students and a personal statement about their futures. This served as a compelling argument as to why higher education should be considered an investment in California's future. Students signed the cards and included their addresses. Two thousand completed cards were delivered to members of our state legislative delegation. This was an important and targeted reminder that students (and their families) vote and these constituents did not wish to see any additional cuts made to higher education. Feedback from this project was instant — staffers reported that the sheer volume of cards impressed elected officials and made them more aware of students' concerns.

"These are just a few examples of the many innovations and contributions Frances has made in her professional work," Holmes noted. "Her dedication and commitment have strengthened Cal State Fullerton's position with elected officials and community partners, demonstrated our willingness to serve as a local resource and helped the campus and community-at-large."

To see a tribute video about Frances Teves, click here.

By: Pamela McLaren, 657-278-4852

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