VRA encourages a diverse board to represent the countries, cultures, religion, and ethnicity of Village residents. This enables the VRA to be inclusive and avoid discrimination on any basis. Currently we have seven board members.
*Additional member personal statements coming soon!
Caitrin Connolly-Olszewski MSW - Board Member
I have been living in UC Village since July of 2012 while my husband pursues a PhD in Molecular and Cell Biology. I am a trained Social Worker, specializing in both Medical Social Work and the Aging Population. The majority of my experience has been in urban medical settings in the Chicago area working with clients facing a wide range of complex psycho social issues such as; chronic illness, disability, homelessness, poverty, addiction and mental health problems. Through the VRA, I am using my social work background to help address social issues here in the village, mainly student poverty, food security and affordable housing. I am a passionate advocate and am very interested in community organizing as well as increasing awareness of social service programs among village residents and making sure that families receive the services they need. In addition to serving on the VRA board, I also serve as Co-Chair to the affordability committee.
Srilakshmi Anand- Board Member
I am an Electronics & Communications Engineer by education and have worked at some of the multinational firms before calling Berkeley home. I am originally from the southern part of India called Tamil Nadu. Knowing the transcending powers of education and loving children a lot, I have been helping the tiny species with 3 R’s, since the time I am here. I love organizing free of cost play group and programs for tots and moms in our village. I am the founder and currently the leader of “Totally Tots” initiative in VRA.
As much as I like volunteering for teaching and organizing play groups, I am also very much into cooking. At the very heart, I’m an incurable and, at times, an insane foodie. In the past, I have conducted cooking workshops for our village residents, and plan on doing more of it in the future.
I have certifications in technology, nutrition and German language. In addition to serving on the VRA board, I also volunteer for INSPIRE, INSPIRE Garden, La Leche League, and Tuesday Dinners. I love to work on community building, residents safety and tots playgroups. Helping people in general gives me immense happiness.
Esther Ramer - Board Member
I am a graduate student in the Classics Department. I grew up in the country in northern Wisconsin, and navigating urban life and academia has been a challenge for me. I joined the Village Residents Association in order to help foster a sense of community and to advocate for policies that help student parents succeed in their careers.
I have experience in many different fields: dairy farming, gardening, construction, and education, to name a few. I hope to use my variety of experience to help understand and advocate for improved policies in housing, transportation, sustainability, and social support networks.
I am also a volunteer with Nature Village, where I have been working to address the issue of waste separation in the Village. I love reading, hiking, and cooking, when I'm not busy with my studies and volunteer work.
Chimmi Wangmo - Board Member
I am Chimmi from Thimphu, Bhutan. I studied Business Management and Development Policy in Seoul, South Korea. I moved to the university village in May 2016 with my husband who is pursuing a PhD in Materials Science and Engineering.
After living in different countries, I have realized the importance of community building and involvement. Therefore, I joined the VRA in order to help build a stronger, cooperative, safer, and more positive community.
I freelance for a tourism company, Smile Bhutan Tours. I spend my leisure time gardening, knitting, reading, and socializing. To keep myself energized, I go to Zumba, yoga, visit new places, and practice for future marathons.
I am also a volunteer with INSPIRE, a social group that organizes different fun events every week with/for the accompanying partners and the children. Join us to stay inspired.
Julia Taylor - Board Member
Hello neighbors! I joined University Village in September 2017, when my partner began Berkeley’s Master’s in Public Policy program. Before moving into the Village, I lived in Portland, OR for two years earning a Master’s in Public Administration specializing in Local Government. The work of cities and counties is my passion because they engage communities to make decisions on the most important aspects of their lives – water, roads, housing, and so much more.
I am energized to serve on the VRA to make sure we receive the information, support, services and good times we need to thrive as individuals and as an inclusive community.
Isaac Ergas - Board Member
I moved into the village with my wife Ojig and children, Nshan and Jano, in late August 2017 in order to pursue a PhD in Epidemiology at the School of Public Health (focusing on nutrition and cancer survival). While I am originally from the Bay Area, my family and I have been living in Los Angeles for the past ten years and are so pleased to be back!
My first foray into public health was as a Peace Corps volunteer in Cameroon, where I facilitated community-based projects related to water and sanitation. Shortly thereafter, I graduated with a Masters in Public Health from UC Berkeley and immediately began work at the Kaiser Permanente Division of Research. Over the course of fifteen years at Kaiser, I have worked on research studies related to diet and lifestyle factors and their impact on breast and bladder cancer prognosis.
In addition to research, I also have a passion for filmmaking and most recently completed a biopic short film about the iconic epidemiologist, Dr. John Snow, and his famous investigation of the Broad Street Pump in 1854. I am also vegan, love biking, snowboarding and playing guitar.
I am very excited to be part of the VRA and it is my goal to help create a safe and peaceful environment for all our residents.