Mark Headley

January 01, 2011

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Alumnus and supporter Mark Headley

Mark Headley didn't know it at the time, but his education at UC Santa Cruz was the perfect preparation for his career today. As president and portfolio manager of Matthews International Capital Management LLC, Headley (Stevenson '83) oversees portfolios across the Asian market that range from diversified to regional, to country and sector specific. "I had no idea there was a job called portfolio manager out there," said Headley, who majored in economics and politics, "but the work I was doing at UC Santa Cruz, comparing the economic development of countries, is exactly what I'm doing today."

An enthusiastic alumnus who has remained friends with many of his professors and classmates, Headley supports a UC Santa Cruz program that also reflects his studies and professional interests: the Global Information Internship Program (GIIP). GIIP is a student-run internship program that trains undergraduates in the latest tools of information technology, which they in turn use to advance the causes of global justice, peace, and gender equity. The program director is Paul Lubeck, a sociology professor and a mentor of Headley.

"I've donated enough to enable a student to go on to Africa or India or someplace else Paul might place them," said Headley. "I think taking students from Santa Cruz and placing them into some of the most economically and sociologically challenged places on the planet-- and doing that safely and responsibly-- is an amazing accomplishment."

GIIP places UC Santa Cruz students as information technology interns with nonprofit and nongovernmental (NGO) organizations around the world. These NGO partners benefit from the infusion of expertise in the latest information and communication technologies. By increasing the organizational capacity of NGOs, GIIP interns help bolster the impact of groups working on progressive social change.

"I know Paul places these interns with families and in situations where he's been," said Headley. "He uses his social and professional network to allow students to experience something that is almost off the charts for an American college student. I think that is much of what Santa Cruz is all about—trying to do things that are really different."

Even as an undergraduate, Headley appreciated the benefits of the UC Santa Cruz educational experience. "I took a very interdisciplinary approach. I thought it was more about the professor than the title of the discipline," he said. He began as a politics major, then added so many economics classes he realized he could do a double major. Headley also studied sociology and history, giving himself a comprehensive background in development economics. "In my work I sometimes have to take on a new country, and sometimes it's a crisis," said Headley. "I can pick the information up and I can digest it very fast, and that's a skill I really gained at Santa Cruz."

UC Santa Cruz also gave Headley a start in his first career: fencing. "I started taking fencing from Charlie Selberg in my junior year, and for 13 years I was a competitive fencer," said Headley, who was a nationally ranked foil fencer. Charles Selberg ran the fencing program at UC Santa Cruz for 14 years, leading the team to multiple northern California intercollegiate championships. "Charlie created the greatest recreational fencing program in the history of the United States. It was such a Santa Cruz thing. We didn't play basketball or football, but we had one of the best fencing teams in the country, and it is a great sport and a great discipline."

Headley's strong connection to the University of California system is a family affair. His father is an alumnus of UC Berkeley, both of his parents worked for the University of California, and in 1965 his family came to the ceremonies that officially opened UC Santa Cruz. Headley was only six, but after walking around the campus, he decided that this was where he would go to college.

"I think the University of California system is the greatest public education system in the history of the planet," said Headley. "I think the environment at Santa Cruz compares to the finest private universities. The range of opportunities here is just enormous."

For more information on supporting programs in the Social Science Division, contact Jennifer Graham at (831)459-3689 or jennifergraham@ucsc.edu.