Stanford University: Stanford welcomes new associate vice president for local government affairs

A veteran of public service and local government will bring a fresh commitment to how Stanford interacts with regional policymakers as she steps into the role of associate vice president for local government affairs this spring.

Kelly Kline joins Stanford University following the retirement of Jean McCown, who served in the position for 18 years.

“I am very excited to join Stanford at this important time as the university builds stronger relationships across the region amid the pandemic,” Kline said. “I have spent much of my career helping to create public-private partnerships that enhance our region’s innovation ecosystem, sustainable development and solutions to civic challenges.

“I look forward to utilizing this experience as a part of Stanford’s ongoing commitment to learn from and give back to neighboring communities. I am eager to build on Jean’s work, emphasizing trust, accessibility and impact for both the campus and our government partners.”

The Office of Government Affairs coordinates and facilitates interactions of Stanford University and Stanford Health Care with local, state and federal governments. The associate vice president for local government affairs is responsible for day-to-day management and relationships with legislative and regulatory bodies and policymakers in the region.

Kline has spent her career in the public sector and has been immersed in South Bay and Silicon Valley politics and economic development during formative years for the region. She most recently served as chief economic development and land use officer at San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo’s office. Working on Google’s Downtown West project in the Diridon Station Area in San Jose, Kline engaged with multiple public partners and community stakeholders on a process that resulted in a $200 million community benefits package to address displacement and provide job pathways.

Kline also served as economic development director and the first chief innovation officer for the City of Fremont. In these positions, she played a key role in creating the Fremont Innovation District and fostered major strides in improving downtown with more public facilities, streetscape transformation and public space activation. As Cupertino’s first economic development and redevelopment manager, Kline steered the city’s business growth efforts during Apple’s unprecedented expansion at Apple Park.

“We are thrilled to welcome Kelly to Stanford,” said Ryan Adesnik, vice president for government affairs. “She will lead our work finding novel ways to use the university’s academic resources in addressing significant societal challenges facing the region.

“Additionally, Kelly’s deep expertise in bringing diverse parties together to responsibly implement important regional land use projects will be an incredible asset to Stanford in advancing our research, education and patient care mission.”

Immeasurable impact
McCown joined Stanford in May 2004, in what was then the Office of Government and Community Relations, as director of community relations.

“The last 18 years have been an incredibly rewarding and inspiring opportunity to work with talented colleagues across Stanford,” McCown said. “None of my contributions were ever solely mine; all were improved and strengthened by the voices and teamwork of others. I am confident Kelly will have the same experience.”

Over the years, McCown developed strong relationships with a diverse array of community and government leaders and provided sage counsel to colleagues.

McCown’s work spanned a wide variety of issues, including her instrumental role in the Hospital Renewal Project, leading negotiations for the Palo Alto Fire contract, guidance on the decade-long – and continuing – Searsville Dam study, and her deep work on the Stanford Community Plan and General Use Permit.

“Each of these efforts and countless others benefited deeply from Jean’s political acuity, strategic thinking, calm demeanor and deep care for both the university and the community at large,” Adesnik said. “We are so grateful for the 18 years of dedicated service that Jean has brought to the university and our government affairs team. Her impact is immeasurable.”

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