Christine Lovely, Class of 1996
UC Davis Associate Vice Chancellor and Chief Human Resources Officer Christine Lovely ’96 oversees the central HR teams on both the Davis and Health campuses. Previously, she was University Counsel and Vice President for Human Resources at California State University, Sacramento. She has also served as Associate General Counsel for the Sacramento County Office of Education and as a legal advisor to the California Public Employment Relations Board. In private practice, she was senior counsel at Atkinson, Andelson, Loya, Ruud & Romo in Pleasanton for ten years, representing school districts and community college districts throughout California.
Did you always intend to work in human resources and education? What brought you here?
Absolutely not. My intention when I left law school was to work as a labor and employment attorney. And I did that for ten years. I worked at a private law firm representing primarily school districts and some community colleges. There was an education tie, but I was acting as an advisor.
I was fine there, but I started to run into conflicts between working at a law firm that required a lot of time and travel and being a young parent who wanted to be involved in my children’s lives. I left the law firm to work at government agencies for the next three-and-a-half years. First, I was at the California Public Employment Relations Board as legal advisor to the chair. Then I worked at Sacramento County Office of Education.
When I left, I went to Sacramento State. That was my first introduction to being legal counsel for a university. After a year and a half as campus counsel, I took on the chief human resources officer role as an interim. My first human resources position was as the chief officer! After doing it for a while, I let the campus President know that I was interested in shifting over permanently.
As legal counsel, of course I’d had many opportunities to interact with HR when they needed legal advice. When I got to HR, I found something that connected to my desires and approaches on so many levels. I could advise people on how to stay out of trouble rather than defending them after they got into trouble.
I was the chief human resources officer at Sacramento State for nearly seven years, until a search firm reached out to me for the role at UC Davis. I was invited to apply and successfully competed for the role. I recently celebrated my three-year anniversary.
I tell people I was the epitome of a non-traditional candidate. It felt like it was meant to be.
How have you found opportunities to do good?
One thing I like about HR is that it gives me a lot of opportunities to do good. It’s about development — organizational development and employee development. There are opportunities to help employees realize their full potential, find out what inspires them and encourage them. It’s good, impactful work.
We instituted a series called Race Matters that is equipping the campus to be able to have conversations about race in the workplace. In the past, it’s been a taboo subject. The pandemic showed us that the lines between work and home are blurred. What’s going on in people’s lives impacts them at work. We can no longer pretend they will come to work and ignore everything else that goes on around them. The series is meaningful and helpful. This is one of the things that feeds my desire to do good.
Of what are you proudest?
Being a mom that raised two incredible humans. Both of them are adults now. Both of them took different paths from my own. My daughter is a graphic designer. My son is in college and does photography and videos on the side. They are good people, caring people. That makes me proud. When I had choices between advancing career-wise and being a good parent, I chose the latter. I don’t judge anyone who makes a different decision, but it was the right decision for me. I am enjoying the fruits of that decision now.
Why did you choose to attend King Hall?
When I came to the decision to go to law school, I didn’t have patterns ahead of me. I didn’t have family or other people in my life with that experience who I could turn to for advice. I stumbled across Davis. I’m a graduate of UC Berkeley. I didn’t want to go to Boalt, because I had just graduated from Berkeley. I wanted to move on.
I had a one-year-old when I started law school. I needed to go somewhere that would be friendly to my family. My husband was working full-time, and then had a part-time job on top of that to support us. Davis’s bar passage rate looked good to me. The fact that it was named after Martin Luther King Jr. impacted my decision in a positive way.
I chose the place where I thought we could live, with family nearby in the Bay Area. And I chose the place where I could do the things I wanted to do.
What is your favorite King Hall memory?
Some of the friendships I made are some of my best memories. I was very involved in BLSA. I was president one year. We used to have a BLSA member named Joan who was a year ahead of me. She would bake “Joan’s Scones,” and we sold them for fundraisers. Eating Joan’s scones is a very good memory!
Which class at King Hall have you used the most?
I enjoyed Marty West’s classes, but a couple of other classes had a more direct impact on my work life. I’ve used Negotiations and Legal Research and Writing the most.
How have you stayed involved with King Hall?
I make donations to BLSA. Recently, I’ve been attending the Racial Justice Speaker Series over Zoom. They’ve had really great speakers. I occasionally come back for a speaker or event. I participated in KHLF’s virtual auction last year. I’ve been getting more involved now that I’m back at UC Davis.
Do you have any advice for current law students?
Their experience is so vastly different from mine. One piece of advice is to get practical experience and practical exposure. Don’t limit yourself to one area of the law. Be open-minded about what else might be out there. I did an externship in bankruptcy court, and it was a great experience. It was so interesting, when I thought bankruptcy would be dry and boring. Real life experiences lead people to bankruptcy: businesses falling apart, divorces. I never would have known if I hadn’t had that experience and set my sights beyond my initial interest. Externships, summer programs, and clinics are all ways to expand your horizons beyond your leading interests. Be open.
The other thing is to talk to someone who is where you want to be. They can give you insights on what the work is like on a daily basis. Have those conversations early, so you don’t have to figure it out later, after making life-changing decisions.
Is there anything else you would like to add?
Only that I’m proud to be a King Hall alum.