Victoria Kleemann is the director of Volunteer Services for UCSF Medical Center and UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital. She has worked at the department since 1986.
What do you do at UCSF, and how is it connected to UCSF’s overall mission?
I am the director of Volunteer Services, which places nearly 800 volunteers a year throughout the hospitals and clinics. To me, UCSF is a kaleidoscope of brilliant passion and compassion. Volunteers are able to help bring all of these wondrous talents into focus through their service and support. Over the years, I have seen the enormous impact one person can have by giving an arm of support, an ear to listen or a hand to hold. I have seen the transformation of a new volunteer who may be shy, but when given the opportunity, becomes awakened to the field of health care and eventually becomes a nurse, doctor, pharmacist or health care professional. The best part of all is seeing how volunteers can help to underscore the “Caring Comes First” focus of the medical center’s mission statement.
What’s something that members of the UCSF community would be surprised to know about you?
Several things come to mind that people might not know about me: I’m a second-generation native San Franciscan, I shook Bobby Kennedy’s hand when I was 12 years old, I haven’t eaten red meat in 18 years, I’ve been an extra in two movies and my first job in the city was volunteer coordinator at the San Francisco Zoo!
When you were young, what did you want to be when you grew up?
I wanted to be so many things when I was growing up. Depending on my age, it ranged from a veterinarian, actress, explorer, writer, the elevator operator at I. Magnin (I’m aging myself with that last one!), social worker, mail carrier, teacher or lawyer to running a refuge for injured or abandoned animals. I’ll let you guess which age I was when I wanted to be any of these professions!