Meet Our New Board Chair

Holly Hogan is the new Chair of the McCarthy Center Board of Advisors beginning in fall 2019. A native of San Francisco and a University of San Francisco alumnus (B.A. Politics, ’02), Holly is also a graduate of Harvard Law School and currently serves as Associate General Counsel at Automattic Inc./Wordpress. We recently asked her to respond to the following questions where she shares her observations on her hometown and how the McCarthy Center’s mission intersects with her own work.

What was the campus and city like as a young person and student at USF?

USF was — and still is – a very special place, in the middle of a special place. The fog, the St. Ignatius Church lights, a political leader speaking on campus, students discussing the important challenges we face and how to best solve them. Some things have certainly changed both on campus and in the City; but, that sense of being somewhere unique persists. And getting up to the top of the Lone Mountain stairs hasn’t gotten any easier.

What’s it like to be part of the tech boom in your hometown?

I’m happy to be working on something that is a part of San Francisco’s evolution.  The tech industry draws on some of things that have always made San Francisco, San Francisco, and especially the spirit of challenging the status quo — the way things have always been — to reimagine the possibilities of what could be. 

Is there some alignment between tech and the idea of public service?

Yes, definitely. One of the things that USF taught me is that public service can, and should be, a part of who you are and what you do, no matter what you do. 

There’s good and bad in the tech field, like anything else. For students thinking about how they can weave public service into a career in tech, I’d say to look at values based organizations, ones that have a mission that speaks to you. That might be to create advances so that health care is more accessible, or to expand the possibilities for people to start and grow their own small business in their local communities through software that simplifies things for them, or, my personal favorite, from my company, to democratize publishing so that anyone with a story can tell it, regardless of income, gender, politics, language, or where they live in the world. Our mission at manifests in many ways aligned with public service– from providing free versions of our products, to proudly hosting the websites of political activists and citizen journalists around the globe, and challenging political censorship from authoritarian regimes. 

One of the things that USF taught me is that public service can, and should be, a part of who you are and what you do, no matter what you do.

What values or lessons have you taken from your days at USF to your professional life?

There’s something distinctive about USF graduates; which is, being men and women for others. It’s a way of looking at success as not only about yourself, but what you do for other people. There’s so many different ways that shows up — being a strong leader who takes care of their team, working for a nonprofit solving some of our toughest problems, advocating for more diversity in your field, investing in someone else as a mentor, running for office or helping someone else do that, volunteering at a food bank. That sets USF grads apart and makes us better leaders, better teammates, and better public servants.

What vision do you have for the McCarthy Center as Board Chair?

The McCarthy Center is the very best of what a USF education is. I’d love for even more people on campus to engage with the Center, and even more people off campus to know about—to amplify the visibility of the Center and its mission to inspiring and preparing students to pursue lives and careers of ethical public service and the common good.


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jgpearson • September 26, 2019

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