CTSI Spotlight: Wylie Liu

Wylie Liu, MPH, MPA

Wylie Liu, MPH, MPA, is the senior program manager for CTSI's Community Engagement & Health Policy program as well as the director of UCSF's Center for Community Engagement. In May, 2016, she was awarded the Holly Smith Award for Exceptional Service to the UCSF School of Medicine.

The Holly Smith Award was created to recognize exceptional service that has resulted in broad and long-lasting benefit. How do you feel about receiving this prestigious honor? 
I feel incredibly honored to be nominated, let alone awarded this prestigious award! I have the rare opportunity to do meaningful work; work with people I respect and enjoy spending time with; and feel supported by many mentors and champions. These are some of the key ingredients to provide exceptional service as I reflect on the award. 
How long have you worked at UCSF?
Longer than I had anticipated! It’s been over 6 years!
What do you do at UCSF and how is it connected to the UCSF mission?
I direct the Center for Community Engagement (CCE) and within that capacity, I also manage the CTSI Community Engagement & Health Policy Program (CE&HP). Think of CE&HP as the research arm of CCE.
I view my job very broadly as bringing together UCSF and community assets to address health disparities and inequities. It touches all parts of the UCSF mission – research, education, patient care and most especially our public mission.
What are the most challenging and rewarding parts of your job?
Our community-academic partnership work is very much affected and influenced by our institution leadership and the larger socio-economic and political context of the City and Bay Area.  One of the phrases that we use to describe our work a lot is, “building the plane while flying it”. We often have to develop the operating manual as we are implementing the work. It’s extremely satisfying when things works out.
What do you like most about your work related to Community Engagement & Health Policy?
In addition to fulfilling work, I would say the people I work with. They are committed, creative, dedicated, fearless, fun, funny, insightful, thoughtful, and wise. They lift me up and inspire me every day.
What are some things that people may not know about the work you do?
Within the context of academic-community partnerships, one of my mentors once said that UCSF wants projects and the community wants relationships. In addition to the technical aspect of our work, we are in the business of relationship. In any relationship, it takes time and skill to cultivate trust and maintain that trust. Our timeline is multi-generational.
If you chose another career path outside UCSF what would it be?
I started out working with international non-government organizations, such as Oxfam and Save the Children’s Fund, on social issues in the Asia & Pacific region. I sometimes wonder where I would be if I continued on that path.
What are your favorite things to do with your free time? 

Cook, eat, sleep and travel!

CTSI Spotlight is part of an ongoing series that offers an opportunity for faculty and staff to learn more about the wide range of people who make CTSI's work possible. See all featured faculty and staff.