CU People: Kristina Hernandez, Executive Dir., Marketing Communications, Campus Services

May 10, 2016
Kristina Hernandez
Who She Is

Executive director, marketing and communications, Campus Services

Years at Columbia

10

What She Does

Campus Services, part of Facilities and Operations, helps to support student life outside the classroom, including undergraduate housing, dining, health services and event management. It also handles administrative services for the entire University community, such as printing, mail and transportation. A team Hernandez supervises manages websites, social media, video production and other materials designed to help students discover and access resources available to them. Come spring, her focus turns to Commencement. One of more than a dozen members of the planning team led by the President’s office, Hernandez recruits, trains and supervises some 250 volunteers who welcome guests during that celebratory week. It’s an enormous undertaking, including the Baccalaureate Service at St. Paul’s chapel on Sunday and 10 of the ceremonies for individual schools, in addition to the University-wide ceremony, which this year is on May 18.

What's Involved

In April, Hernandez sends volunteers an overview of their responsibilities and runs a training session in early May. Teams of volunteers, who come from throughout the University, help thousands of guests find the right gate to enter the campus and navigate their way to their seats, answer questions and distribute programs. They work closely with the Disability Services team to accommodate guests who need assistance. Since the outdoor Commencement ceremony takes place rain or shine, Hernandez keeps scores of ponchos and sunscreen on hand for the volunteers. “My piece is just one small part,” she says. “Hundreds of people are part of the behind-the-scenes work to produce Commencement Week.”

Road to Columbia

Hernandez was born at St. Luke’s Hospital, just across the street from the Morningside campus, when her father was a graduate student at Union Theological Seminary. She grew up in Annapolis, MD. “When I got the job at Columbia my parents said my life had come full circle,” she recalls. Hernandez majored in communications at Miami University in Ohio and moved to New York in 1998 to work in advertising. She wanted to do something more personally rewarding when she came to Columbia in 2006.

Best Part of the Job

Working with students. “Everything we do is to help make things better for them. It’s so motivating to see the results of my work,” she says. “And the people I work with, too, are pretty remarkable in the work they do and their dedication to the students.” She enjoys helping to plan Commencement with colleagues from throughout the University and watching students she worked with graduate. She often gets hugs from happy and excited parents.

Memorable Moments

“When President Obama (CC’83) spoke at the Barnard College Commencement in 2012. Seeing him and working on that will forever be a career highlight for me,” Hernandez says. She also looks forward to the last moment of Commencement, when Frank Sinatra’s New York, New York blares from speakers and the brand-new graduates start dancing at their seats. “I will always have that visual image in my head,” she says.

In Her Spare Time

“I run after my kids at the playground,” says the mother of two boys, ages 5 and 2. “They’re awesome.” She and her husband like sampling the diverse cuisine at New York’s many restaurants, and they like to travel. “We try to travel with our kids. It was a priority for my parents, making sure my brother and I saw different places. That left an impression on me.”

—By Georgette Jasen