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Alumni Spotlight // Advocacy

ADVOCACY IN ACTION

UC Regent and UCSB Alumni Association Board of Directors Member Fran Mancia `80
Fran Mancia
Fran Mancia `80, who serves as a member of the UCSB Alumni Association Board of Directors, was elected as UC Regent this past spring. (Photo by Matt Perko/OPAC)

As vice president of government relations for PRA Government Services and MuniServices LLC, Fran Mancia `80 is responsible for regulatory and legislative services for cities and municipalities from California to Texas.

As a member of the UCSB Alumni Association Board of Directors, Mancia applies his long experience in government relations and advocacy to help advance the values and goals of the University. This past spring, Mancia was elected to serve as one of four University of California Alumni Regents by the UCSB Alumni Association Board of Directors. He began his term this summer, and will serve as president of the Alumni Associations of the University of California next year. He also serves on the UCSB Department of Communication Alumni Council.

Mancia graduated with a B.A. in communication from UC Santa Barbara and went on to earn his master’s degree in business administration from the University of San Francisco. He served as chairman of the California Contract Cities Association Members Program and as partner member of the League of California Cities Revenue and Taxation Policy Committee. Mancia was honored with the El Matador Award by the California Contract Cities Association for his lifetime contributions to the betterment of local government.

In this Alumni Q&A, Mancia talks about his lifelong commitment to UCSB, his experience as a member of Phi Sigma Kappa and the joys of equestrian life in Marin County.

Fran Mancia
Fran Mancia `80 at the 2016 Communication Career Day at the 10th All Gaucho Reunion. (Photo by Sam McCrea)

Where did you grow up and what fascinated you as a young teen?

I grew up in Marin County, California. I loved everything about growing up there. As a young person, I was fascinated by sports. I played football and was also very involved in outdoors activities like skiing and hiking.

Why did you choose to study at UC Santa Barbara?

From a personal point of view, the sheer beauty of the campus was very dramatic. I just loved the environment. Everyone was very friendly and cordial. The quality of life on campus was unparalleled. I could see such pride in being a Gaucho. I relied on what I experienced. I didn’t have any family who had gone to UCSB before.

What made you decide on your major?

When I first came to the University I wasn’t sure what my major would be. What I liked about communications was that it gave me a chance to learn how to think critically. There was a lot of writing, speaking and learning about non-verbal ways of communicating. I learned to listen and write in a concise manner. These are skills that I use to this day. The quality of the faculty in the communication department was amazing. They are all great leaders and teachers. I had terrific mentors and role models at UCSB.

You did some wonderful community work as a student here at UCSB – what sorts of outreach work did you do?

I was in a fraternity, Phi Sigma Kappa. We were involved in a lot of community projects. I was on the community affairs board on campus. I also served as a Boy Scout and an Eagle Scout. We would volunteer at St. Vincent’s, a school for disabled children. It was a great change being with friends from campus and serving as helpers and leaders for these kids who had such great challenges. This volunteer experience provided us a way to meet people from nontraditional areas.

The key thing I learned from volunteering at UC Santa Barbara was how to work together collaboratively with a team based on goals and a sense of fiscal responsibility. We learned how to spend money to build something.

From day one, it was imperative to me to meet our budgets and our goals. We are involved in creating solutions to create social change, whether in the political world, in our social circles and in business. You have to work in areas that you believe in and that you are passionate about. At UCSB, you had choices to really develop these types of experiences.

What made you decide to pursue a career in politics and advocacy?

I was very interested in politics from a very young age. My family was very involved in politics. My parents worked at the US embassy. It was part of our daily lives to affect positive change in the world’s social issues.

Throughout my career, I have worked on a lot of campaigns. MuniServices, the company I work for, works with local governments. You have to build relationships based on trust. This gets easier over time, as the longer you are around people you know and trust, you build a track record of being able to work well together.

A lot of this success again comes back to what I got from my time at UCSB. This approach was instilled in our messages and how we worked together at the University.

Fran Mancia `80 with young alumni
UC Regent and Member of the UCSB Alumni Association Board of Directors Fran Mancia `80 with young alumni at the 2016 San Francisco Welcome Reception. (Photo courtesy of John Lofthus)

You are an incredible voice and advocate for UCSB – when did you start to be involved as an alumni leader? What inspires you to continue to advocate for the University?

I stared getting involved because of my work here in Sacramento. I started attending UCSB alumni functions in San Francisco and Sacramento. I started helping wherever I could in legislative issues, to help connect people. It was a natural evolution. I started attending events in the Bay Area. Before I knew it, our alumni leaders started asking me to be more and more involved.

The UCSB Department of Communication formed the Alumni Council. That really inspired me to be involved. It’s great to help people advance in their chosen profession through mentoring and sharing experiences. It’s all about creating good karma and positive payback. We’ve done that with students attending our Communication Career Day over nearly a decade. The UCSB Department of Communication alumni contact base is almost 10,000 strong. We are very active in reaching out to the next generation of communicators. I feel a great deal of pride in what we do.

UC Santa Barbara is a top-ranked university in the nation. In the past, if you could get through the rigors of getting a degree, you could get a job. These days, there’s a lot of uncertainty for students. The scope of the communication major is on board with the changes in the world today. You have communication people in government relations, public relations, social media…the list of career possibilities goes on and on.

What inspires me, is that I am able to put kids at ease by telling them you can have a great career in this field. We help students learn about networking and getting internships. So many have thanked me for helping them learn how to get a job. We tell them “Don’t worry - we can help you succeed.” They discover that they have a great network. We witness them come in from a point of uncertainty, to feeling the joy of discovering contacts and mentors in the field.

What was your reaction to your election as UC Regent?

I was truly honored and humbled to be selected.

I had the privilege to speak to student leaders, faculty and alumni about issues important to the community. To have all of these people who care about these issues from different perspectives come out and support me is amazing. I am encouraged to continue to move forward in advocating for the University. I am here to serve.

Why are you proud to be a Gaucho?

I think I am proud to be a Gaucho because our University has such impact nationally and internationally, with our Nobel Laureates and the research work done in the sciences and the humanities.

We have a broad reach as a top-tier ranked educational institution. Everyone has good things to say when we talk about UCSB. It is such a widespread, positive reaction. We Gauchos make a difference in the world. We continue to do so in so many fields. The number and quality of people who wish to attend UCSB is wonderful. I am very proud of the direction and the path of our alma mater.

What do you do on your days off?

My wife and I are equestrians and active volunteers in El Dorado County. We work to preserve and protect the welfare of equestrians, horses and facilities in the area.

It’s really a wonderful lifestyle, working with horses. It started when I was a kid. I was born on a cattle ranch in Colorado. My sister had horses. It has been 25 years of the equestrian life. We do a lot of trail riding as well as caring for and working with the horses. It is very calming. Horses are such an intelligent species. They read people extremely well. I love the nonverbal connection. They sense where you want to go. I love their intuition and their loyalty. It is a beautiful relationship.

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