Meet the Staff

Staff

Jen Butler

Jen Butler

  • Director

As Director of Student Affairs Marketing and Communications (SAMC), Jen oversees communications strategy and marketing for the Division of Student Affairs and its nearly 30 departments. Her responsibilities include translating university- and systemwide policy priorities into communications and brand strategy, taking a leading role in crisis communications and collaborating with departments within the division to ensure they are maximizing reach with their audience and effectively communicating their services and story.

Prior to her 2019 start at UC Davis, Jen spent 15 successful years at the senior management level directing branding, marketing, sales and admissions efforts in corporate, non-profit and educational environments. A creative yet analytical strategic leader, she has a unique combination of big picture vision and tactical execution skills and the proven ability to develop programs from scratch and lead complex turnarounds. A consensus builder, she is adept at rallying teams and facilitating change.

Away from work, Jen enjoys her daily adventures with her husband and very active twin preschoolers. 

Justin Ling

Justin Ling

  • Associate Director

As associate director of web and analytics for SAMC, Justin is responsible for developing divisional websites. Creating accessible, usable and easy-to-navigate websites is Justin's top priority and guiding principle. As a one-time undergraduate student at UC Davis, Justin understands the challenges students face in finding current and relevant information and is focused on making websites for the Division of Student Affairs easy for students to navigate.

Justin was born and raised in the Central Valley and is a first-generation college graduate. He attended UC Davis in the early 90s and went on to get his MBA from CSU Sacramento. Justin is a lifelong UC Davis employee and got his start working at the Memorial Union Games Area as a customer service rep during his sophomore year. He spent a very short time working at E-Trade only to discover that he really needed to get back to UC Davis.

In his free time, Justin is raising three children with his wife, playing golf or playing video games online.

 

Andrew McDaniel

Andrew McDaniel

  • Associate Director

Andrew is an award-winning marketing and communications professional with a penchant for storytelling across multiple channels and platforms. Currently serving as associate marketing and communications director for SAMC, he co-led the launch of UC Davis’ first Sexual Violence Education and Awareness campaign and the UC Davis NOW mobile app.

Andrew has worked in journalism, marketing, public relations and communications. He has written more than 600 articles, produced 23 nationally-syndicated radio documentaries and has written advertising copy for international companies, including Chiquita and Ocean Spray. He has a B.A. in Communications from Flagler College and certificates in Journalism and Management from Georgetown University and the University of California, Davis.

 

Nat Curiel

Nat Curiel

  • Content Specialist

As SAMC’s content specialist, Nat develops, writes and edits content for Student Affairs’ newsletters, websites, executive communications and other student- and staff-facing channels. He supports clients with content strategy and telling their stories through articles, profiles, interviews and social content.

Originally from Alabama, Nat earned a B.A. in History from Rice University and lived in Northern Europe from 2013 to 2017. There, he taught business English, worked as an e-commerce copywriter and social media manager and earned a master’s in Linguistics. He started at SAMC in 2018.

Nat lives in Davis with his wife and son. Out of the office, he enjoys reading, culinary adventures, hiking, and he can often be found along Putah Creek, attempting to free his fly fishing line from a bush or tree.

Learn more about Nat

Steffi House

Steffi House

  • Client Relations Specialist

Steffi House is a client relations specialist with SAMC. In this role, she anticipates and constructs project timelines, manages production processes and deliverables, facilitates communication and ensures the accountability and timeliness of all project participants. Additionally, she supports social media efforts for the department, developing content and advising clients on their social media campaigns.

A proud UC Davis graduate, Steffi has degrees in Communication and Economics and a minor in Education. Steffi is an avid sports fan and enjoys cheering on Aggie football and basketball. Away from work, Steffi loves spending time with family, cooking, gardening and taking trips to Lake Tahoe.

Learn more about Steffi

Justin Lok

Justin Lok

  • Web and Multimedia Marketing Specialist

Justin is part of the SAMC web team. Having earned his degree in design from UC Davis, he uses design thinking along with systems thinking to ensure Student Affairs departments are mindful of the user’s overall in-person and web-based experience, as well as coming up with ways to align web content strategy in a sustainable, manageable way.

In his work across Student Affairs, Justin has developed an interest in the many ways that departments are interconnected and looks for opportunities to highlight these synergies. With the shift to a centralized campus web content management system, he has identified many similarities and been able to leverage his knowledge of site features and technology across the division.

 

Jezer Serafica portrait

Jezer Serafica

  • Videography and Social Media Coordinator

Jezer Serafica is the multimedia specialist for SAMC. Utilizing videography and photography, he creates visual content for the department’s communications channels, as well as assisting in social media management. He has a passion for storytelling and a diverse background in video work, ranging from marketing for state agencies to local commercial work.

An alumni of California State University, Sacramento, he has a B.A. in Communication Studies, with a focus in Digital Media. In his off-time, Jezer enjoys working on short films, playing piano and walking his dog.

 

Jenn Vaughn

Jennifer Vaughn

  • Senior Graphic Designer

Jenn Vaughn worked for boutique design agencies, tech startups and Fortune 500 companies before pursuing her dream job in higher education. As senior designer for SAMC, she leads brand strategy across all divisional departments, channels and segments. A first-generation college student, Jenn earned a B.A. in Public Communication from American University.

For over 20 years, Jenn has art-directed award-winning marketing campaigns across print, digital and social, as well as led rebranding and design efforts for large-scale, corporate identity systems. With over 100 logos to her credit, her work also includes designing the logo, identity system and branding standards for Howard University and Washington and Lee University, designing the UI/UX for a cloud storage app for Western Digital and redesigning the website for Ronald McDonald House of San Francisco.

After living 10 years in Washington, D.C., Jenn is delighted to be back in her native Northern California. Away from work, Jenn enjoys propagating succulents, refashioning sewing projects and exploring hiking trails and good eats with her husband and son

Learn more about Jenn

Student Assistants

Kai Sase Ebens

Kai Sase Ebens

  • Designer

Kai Sase Ebens is a fourth-year Design and Art Studio double major. She is particularly interested in graphic design, and as a student designer for SAMC, Kai develops graphic elements, social media materials and advertisements for Student Affairs departments. She is also the social media manager for InPrint Magazine and the creative director for Davis Political Review, two clubs on campus that address sociopolitical issues through annual publications.

In her free time, Kai loves to try new coffee beverages and take her dog to the beach. She also occasionally takes painting commissions, her most popular requests being pet portraits. Moving into her professional life, Kai hopes to continue working within the intersection of art and design.

What brought you to UC Davis?

The friendliness and community of Davis drew me in initially. It helped that I’m from the Bay Area, and could come home easily if I was feeling overwhelmed or wanted to do free laundry. As I grew into my independence, I recognized how special it is to be surrounded by like-minded people who want to better themselves in the same ways I do. I’m so grateful for the connections I’ve made and look forward to more to come.

What’s your favorite dish? Favorite to cook?

My favorite dish is Japanese katsu curry, which is a curry soup over rice with a breaded chicken cutlet on top. It’s a very nostalgic dish, one I don’t get to have very often, and it reminds me of my family and my origins. If I’m cooking for myself, I’ll make chipotle stuffed bell peppers or beef teriyaki.

Rebekah Friedman

Rebekah Friedman

  • Social Media Intern

Rebekah is a second-year Communications and Sociology-Organizational Studies double major. At SAMC, she works as a social media intern creating new and engaging content for the UC Davis Life social media platforms. Rebekah’s interest in social media began during her time as the director of publicity at her high school as a senior. This role encouraged her to pursue communications in college, and she hopes to work in the social media marketing industry after graduation.  

A native of California’s Central Valley, Rebekah loves that the small town community of Davis reminds her of home. In her free time, she enjoys listening to music, attending events at  Hillel (the Jewish Student Organization) and watching sunsets from the Hutchison parking  structure.  

Describe your musical taste.

My musical taste can pretty much be summed up by one artist … Taylor Swift. I’ve been a huge fan since I was a kid and I still love her music. Her earlier albums are some of my favorites, but if Taylor sings it, I’m probably listening to it. The first concert I ever attended was Taylor Swift’s Fearless tour when I was eight years old. 

Where is somewhere you've always wanted to travel?

One place I really want to travel to is Italy. My mom’s family is from Italy and I have some relatives who still live there. It seems like such a pretty country and I love Italian food.

Michelle Hong

Michelle Hong

  • Designer

Michelle Hong is a student graphic designer at SAMC. Originally from Los Angeles, Michelle is a fourth-year student at UC Davis double majoring in Design and Psychology. Her favorite SAMC project she worked on was the “We Love UC Davis Students” Fall Welcome poster, which was posted around campus and Downtown Davis. She was also one of the 2020 recipients of the Jan Conroy Memorial Award for Graphic Design. Outside of work, Michelle enjoys thrifting vintage clothes, dancing with friends, and visiting art museums. 

What does a good day at work look like?

A good day at work for me includes sketching new design iterations, playing music out loud, and collaborating with my co-workers on our next project. 

Describe your musical taste.

Pop, but with a soulful, old school vibe. If there is an 80’s-style synth and a good bassline, I’m pretty much sold. 

What the world needs now…

More empathy and compassion. The way for true change to occur is by being brave enough to walk in someone else’s shoes and seeing life from a different perspective.

Adrienne Lee

Adrienne Lee

  • Designer

Adrienne Lee is a third-year Design and Psychology double major and is currently a student designer for SAMC. In this role, she creates various flyers, Instagram stories, graphic elements and more for organizations across campus. Some of her favorite projects for SAMC have been creating numerous Instagram stories and highlights for the UC Davis Life Instagram. She has also participated in multiple student organizations as a graphic and UI/UX designer and has led design teams in building websites. 

Outside of work and school, Adrienne likes to experiment with sewing projects and barista-ing in the kitchen with her morning coffee. Her favorite part of work is being able to hang out with her coworkers, collaborating and learning from them. In the future, Adrienne hopes to travel to Asia and Europe and work at a company in which her skills will be utilized to help others. 

Selina Li

Selina Li

  • Designer

Selina is a third-year Design major and Psychology minor and is a student graphic designer at SAMC. Her first project for the team was creating a new logo for the Student Recruitment and Retention Center, and she is excited to take on more design challenges in the future. Previously, Selina worked as a graphics intern for the Design Careers Club at UC Davis and is now serving as the club’s outreach lead. She is also a member of HOPE at Davis, a student organization that aids and advocates for the unhoused community. Outside of school and work, Selina enjoys a variety of creative pursuits, from bullet journaling to dancing to vlogging. She hopes to center social justice in her future career, most likely through graphic design.

Describe your musical taste.

I listen to a lot of indie and synth pop, alternative rock, R&B, K-pop and any combination of those genres. Some of my current favorite artists are COIN, LANY, and HONNE. I can’t go long without listening to music—good music energizes me and sets my mood throughout the day.

What got you interested in design?

I’ve always loved expressing myself through visual creativity—I took studio art classes for over 10 years—but didn’t seriously consider it as a career path until my parents convinced me to major in design. Taking design classes and meeting people in the field has opened my eyes to all the possibilities for design to change our world for the better, and that’s something I want to be a part of.

Sophia Meals

Sophia Meals

  • Content and Editorial Assistant

As the Editorial and Content Creation Assistant for SAMC, Sophia works on developing written content for multiple platforms to promote Student Affairs, student life and resources at UC Davis. A fourth-year communications major, Sophia transferred to UC Davis from Diablo Valley College in the Bay Area, where she earned associate degrees in communications and psychology. Sophia is passionate about creating and promoting community life—she helped found and co-lead Cru at Diablo Valley College and is has served on the ASUCD Executive Office FUN Committee.

When she isn’t working and studying, Sophia can often be found bullet journaling, cooking and searching for new music. She also enjoys writing for her personal blog and going on day trips—especially to the beach.

Do you have a favorite quote? 

My favorite quote is from Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery: “I don’t know what lies around the bend, but I’m going to believe that the best does.” It reminds me that the unknowns in life can be beautiful and exciting if we just have the right mindset, and it’s taking on a new meaning in my final year of college as I prepare for the next chapter in my life!

Describe your musical taste.

I love finding music that fits my mood or the setting, but anything that makes me smile and dance is definitely a good bet, regardless of genre! Music has such a big effect on our emotions, and I love listening to songs that boost my mood and inspire me. 

Chloe Thepenier

Chloe Thepenier

  • Designer

Chloe is a fifth-year Design student focusing on graphic design. As a student graphic designer at SAMC, she helps conceptualize, design and revise graphics and publications such as ads, flyers and brochures according to the university’s branding guidelines.

Born in France, Chloe grew up in a town of just 500 people and moved to the U.S. after graduating high school for a new and exciting experience. She transferred to UC Davis as an atmospheric science major before discovering her passion for graphic design in 2019, when she switched to a more artistic career path.  

What brought you to UC Davis?  

I transferred to UC Davis through the Atmospheric Science program. Few schools had this major, and Davis felt like the best fit, both academically and personally. Moving here from Los Angeles was quite a change, but Davis felt familiar and reminded me of my French hometown.

Where is somewhere you’ve always wanted to travel?  

I was lucky enough to travel a lot as a kid thanks to my parents—I’ve always loved going on adventures and discovering new places. However, I’ve never been to South America and would love to explore that part of the world one day.