By Clara Davison ’18
Since assuming the role in November, Amy Locklear Hertel has kept herself busy as chief of staff for Chancellor Carol L. Folt. Prior to this position, Hertel served as the director of the American Indian Center since 2012.
When initially offered the role, Hertel said she felt “it was an opportunity to serve the University in a truly significant way as well as an avenue to support the center from a different direction.” While eager to step into the position, she recalls that “I went from a world where I was more of an expert in my field to a place where I don’t have expertise in a particular area. I feel like I’ve gone back to school, and it’s fascinating.”
In addition to the personal growth she’s experienced, Hertel, a member of the Lumbee and Coharie tribes of North Carolina, feels her appointment in the chancellor’s office is significant to North Carolina’s American Indian population. When first offered the job, Hertel said she called the state’s tribal leaders before her appointment was made public.
“I consulted them prior to taking the job; I wanted to communicate to them that this was not me moving on; this was not the University taking priority over the American Indian Center,” she said. “This was the chancellor taking an opportunity to celebrate diversity.”
For the chancellor, diversity is not just something that the University celebrates as an institution, it is an everyday aspect of her personal team. “When I look around, I feel like I have a very diverse set of colleagues,” Hertel said. “The chancellor really lives the priorities she talks about. She is very sincere about it.”
As the chancellor’s chief of staff, Hertel’s responsibilities vary widely. “What I have really enjoyed is getting to see how the University functions,” Hertel said. “Going from things involving the UNC system to things that are University-wide to department focused all the way down to the individual student experience. The breadth of opportunities is so new and different for me.”
While such a wide range of responsibilities can be intimidating initially, Hertel took it in stride. On a daily basis, she can go from attending staff meetings to alumni events, or from faculty award ceremonies to sporting events, all in an effort to support the chancellor. “My work is very tied to hers,” she said. “I make sure she has the necessary information when she goes into these different opportunities. I also listen to her about the groups she wants to engage with on and off campus.”
After having worked at the University for a number of years prior to assuming this position, Hertel recalls that she would often think: “ ‘Who makes those decisions?’ Now, I get to be a part of those decisions!” Though her position holds many responsibilities and great expectations, Hertel loves the broad perspective her job gives her. “What I love, and what a lot of people do not have the opportunity to understand, is that everything matters,” Hertel said. “Concerns from students, concerns from faculty, celebrations of faculty, awards of students…all of those things come into the decision-making process. At the end of the day, we want Carolina to be its very best for everyone.”