Dan Bernal, a longtime San Francisco resident who served for more than two decades with U.S. Rep. Nancy Pelosi, has been named vice chancellor for community and government relations at UC San Francisco.
Bernal has extensive experience with local, state and federal policy in the areas of health care and education. Over 25 years in public service, he has built collaborative relationships with elected officials, government agency staff and community leaders in the Bay Area and California. And he has a demonstrated commitment to racial, health, economic and social justice for underserved communities.
He is committed to inclusivity and fairness to all people, and he knows the value that research can play in improving their lives.”
“Dan’s experience at all levels of government and his productive relationships in the community are enormous assets as we pursue our core missions of research, patient care, education and public service,” said UCSF Chancellor Sam Hawgood, MBBS. “He is committed to inclusivity and fairness to all people, and he knows the value that research can play in improving their lives. We have already been fortunate to work with him in government and know he will be a great fit for the UCSF community.”
From HIV to SARS-CoV-2
Bernal, who has been living with HIV since 1990, has worked for many years to alleviate the AIDS epidemic, frequently alongside experts at UCSF. He was a senior advisor to Pelosi on HIV/AIDS and has served on the board of the San Francisco AIDS Foundation and other HIV/AIDS nonprofit organizations.
He currently serves as the HIV/AIDS patient advocate to the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine (CIRM). He also helped secure funding to support the 2020 International AIDS Conference hosted by San Francisco and Oakland that was co-chaired by UCSF’s Monica Gandhi, MD.
“As a person living with HIV for more than 33 years, I have a deep and personal connection to UCSF’s mission and values,” Bernal said. “I know I would not be alive today without the leadership of UCSF in the earliest days of the AIDS crisis as well as the hard work and dedication of UCSF researchers and physicians like Paul Volberding, Eric Goosby and Diane Havlir.”
Bernal got to know UCSF well during the COVID-19 pandemic, when he worked with Chancellor Hawgood and former UCSF Health CEO Mark Laret to brief members of Congress.
As a member of the San Francisco Health Commission, where he served from 2017 until this year, Bernal became familiar with the pandemic response work that infectious disease experts at UCSF were doing in San Francisco’s Mission District, where the virus hit especially hard.
“During COVID, the work of UCSF leadership and researchers was enormously important to shaping the national response,” he said. “UCSF was the first to identify how multi-generational households were getting infected, calling in resources to help. At every step along the way, UCSF was a leader.”
For the last 22 years, he has led Pelosi’s San Francisco district office to assist constituents with accessing federal benefits and ensure that San Francisco receives the federal resources to meet the needs of our city’s diverse communities. He has been a resource to the California Democratic Congressional Delegation in advancing national legislative priorities such as the Affordable Care Act, American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, DREAM Act, CHIPS and Science Act, and the CARES Act and American Rescue Plan COVID relief packages.
“Learning every day from the greatest House Speaker of all time, while serving the people of San Francisco, has been an enormous privilege both professionally and personally,” he said. “I am deeply grateful to Speaker Emerita Pelosi for her barrier-breaking, life-changing leadership on health care, education, equity and justice and so much more. Personally, her solidarity with the LGBTQ+ community and work to fight HIV/AIDS has been so meaningful to me and to our city.”
Bernal holds a bachelor’s degree in political science from Northeastern University in Boston, where he was student body president, and an executive certificate in public leadership from the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University.
Before joining Pelosi’s office, Bernal worked for the White House political director under President Bill Clinton and then at the U.S. Department of Education for Sec. Richard Reilly.
As a public affairs consultant in San Francisco and Sacramento, he created a statewide initiative to provide access to financial aid for low-income, first-generation and undocumented students, as well as foster youth. He also helped to pass AB 540, which allows students who are undocumented or are legal permanent residents to pay in-state tuition at UC and California State University campuses.