Spotlight: Cristina Morrison

Christina Morrison. Photo by David Hand

Cristina Morrison began her career at UCSF 14 years ago in Community & Governmental Relations just as the University set it sights on developing a campus at Mission Bay. Today, she is serving a key role helping to implement the Operational Excellence (OE) initiative as a coordinator in the UCSF School of Medicine.

When and why did you come to work at UCSF?

In 1998, I began my UCSF career in Community & Governmental Relations (C&GR). After graduating from UC Davis I was intrigued by the research and patient care mission at UCSF. I started working here when the Mission Bay campus was just a dream; it was an exciting time! By being a part of C&GR, I was in a unique position to work with the greater San Francisco community, Catellus Development, City Hall, as well as state and federal government representatives. Seeing UCSF from the perspective of our neighbors and constituents exposed me to a new vision of UCSF. After spending five years in C&GR, I had the opportunity to move into the School of Medicine Dean’s Office, where I worked closely with Keith Yamamoto, an instrumental leader in the creation of Mission Bay. The eight years I spent working with faculty, space and research prepared me well for my current role.

What do you do at UCSF and how is it connected to the UCSF mission?

I moved into my current role as the Operational Excellence (OE) Coordinator in the School of Medicine in October 2010.  It’s been both challenging and rewarding to see and embrace the shift. My 14 years at UCSF have helped me appreciate the opportunity OE brings to create an efficient place to work that provides training, support and opportunity for career growth. The mission of UCSF can only be achieved by each one of us participating wholly and striving to participate 100 percent every day. I believe that every person at UCSF plays a critical role and the care and dedication of the staff and faculty at UCSF are what keeps sustaining our mission.

What are the most challenging and rewarding parts of your job?

The most challenging aspect of the job has been remaining positive and optimistic during tough times. Budget cuts and administrative OE changes have impacted our campus tremendously. To remain optimistic I hold on to knowing that the strength of character and passion all our staff and faculty have for the UCSF mission will keep us on the right path.  The motto I live by is “we’re all in this together and everyone wants the same outcome.” As we adapt to changes, the ultimate goal is always the same – to keep UCSF at the top. 

If you chose another career path outside UCSF what would it be?

That’s a tough one! I feel lucky to have such a rewarding career at UCSF, and I particularly appreciate all of the people I’ve worked with over the years. The activities I love outside of work dictate some of the things I might do in a different career – travel guide, chef, or career counselor are the top three. 

What’s something that members of the UCSF community would be surprised to know about you?

I immigrated to America when I was six from San Salvador, El Salvador. The majority of my family lives in El Salvador, Nicaragua, Honduras and Guatemala. I am proud to have a multi-cultural background. I am fully bilingual in Spanish and my husband Derek and I often travel to Central America to visit family. 

What are your favorite things to do with your free time?

Cooking for friends and family, reading and hiking around the bay area are my top three activities. I am always eager to try new dishes and I often call those a labor of love because it takes all day! One of my favorite quotes is “love people, cook them tasty food.” My reading interests are varied and I am always open to recommendations. The Bay Area is an inspiration for hiking, as there so many beautiful places to explore.