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Katya Armistead

Katherine Harvey Fellows Cohort 4, 2006-07
LFW Board Member, Emerging Leaders Facilitator

It was due to the difficulties of her experience as a college student at UCSB that Katya
Armistead was inspired to return, years later, as an administrator. Katya’s personal challenges
helped to define her character, and, as it turns out, her career. She has been working her way
through the ranks of the University for the past 33 years, and now serves as Assistant Vice
Chancellor and Dean of Student Life.

“I struggled in college,” admits Katya, who as a woman of color had a hard time fitting into the
“predominately white school.” “I survived, I graduated, but it was very hard.”That experience fueled
a resilience that led Katya to complete her Master’s in Education from Azusa Pacific and her
doctorate in educational leadership from a joint program between UCSB and Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo.

“I never dreamed that I could achieve that,” she said. Now she shares that dream with other
students who often remind her of herself as a college freshman. “I knew I wanted to make UCSB
a better place for students of color,” said Katya. And that’s exactly what she’s done by elevating the
quality of student life, promoting diversity and inclusion, and endorsing equitable access for students
of all identities. It was while working in the admissions office of UCSB that Katya met Ken Saxon and was
referred to the Katherine Harvey Fellows program, an experience that “expanded my lens on where I lived.”

“Katherine Harvey Fellows introduced me to understanding the needs of the many nonprofits in
Santa Barbara County and helped me realize where I could make a difference.”

“I would have been pretty insular to UCSB if not for my Katherine Harvey Fellows experience,
which expanded my horizons and my connections,” she remarked. That experience led to
Katya’s involvement serving on boards and committees of numerous nonprofits, including The
Women’s Fund, American Red Cross, CADA, Women’s Economic Ventures and the Family
Service Agency. And it was her KHF class that created Youth Making Change, a teen-led grant-
making program. “My cohort wanted to create something for students that was similar to the
experience we had as Katherine Harvey Fellows,” she explained.

“Volunteering feeds my soul. And nonprofit work is a great way to gain experience. I have been
exposed to many facets of an organization that often fall outside of my regular job responsibilities,
but have taught me practical skills that end up benefiting me in those same jobs.”

Now, and for the past several years, Katya is teaching practical leadership skills as a facilitator for the Emerging Leaders Program. She also joined Leading From Within’s board of directors three years ago.

“I was super excited to join the board because I had been facilitating The Leadership Challenge Workshop and felt such a strong connection to the organization,” she said. “I have received so much from my involvement at Leading From Within and value my experience as a Katherine Harvey Fellow that it’s an honor to serve,” she said.

Katya was recently honored with a LEAP Award for her outstanding contributions in shaping the
lives of children and families in Santa Barbara County and will also be recognized as a Woman
of Achievement by the Association of Women in Communications for her work in education.

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