Staff Profile: Leslie Carbahal

Knowing the ins-and-outs of campus — like what exciting new facilities are on the horizon long before a grand opening — is one of the things Leslie Carbahal likes best in her role as director of Capital Planning at Design and Construction Management.

Leslie Carbahal poses for a photo with her husband and daughter

Carbahal and the rest of the Capital Planning team work to develop funding strategies and help get new construction and major renovations approved.

“It’s a lot of meetings,” Carbahal said about her typical workday. “Taking time to strategize, to collaborate and problem solve.”

Optimizing funding strategies might not be the most exciting-sounding part of getting new construction and renovations on campus, but it is an absolutely vital piece of the process.

“I’m always excited about supporting the education and research missions at UC Davis,” Carbahal said, “in having a hand in providing facilities that meet current student needs.”

A recent example of a project Carbahal helped take from an idea to a cutting-edge facility is the Teaching and Learning Complex, or TLC, the first new multi-classroom general assignment classroom building on campus in over 50 years.

“The project started with a need for more classrooms to keep pace with student population growth. Relying on our expert partners with decades of teaching experience across the campus, we crafted a specific vision of innovative, interactive, flexible spaces that support how professors want to teach,” Carbahal said. From that vision, Carbahal helped develop a feasible plan, which eventually became the TLC.

Carbahal is excited to continue playing her part in improving the student experience at UC Davis, advocating to partners at the University of California Office of the President and at the State for additional funding that could bring much needed improvements, including new and refreshed teaching labs and other research spaces.

Campus isn’t the only thing Carbahal is dedicated to cultivating. She enjoys spending time with her family, including her daughter, and tending to her walnut orchard. Even outside of work, Carbahal can’t get enough of campus. She often attends events with her family, utilizing her comprehensive knowledge to show off campus’s hidden gems.

Carbahal’s extensive, firsthand knowledge of the campus started well before she joined the Design and Construction Management team. She grew up in the Davis area and attended UC Davis as a grad student.

“From my first interview in Capital Planning it felt like coming home,” Carbahal said. That interview sparked what is a now more than a decade long tenure at UC Davis. In that role, she received valuable experience.

“I got a ton of exposure to the whole project life cycle,” Carbahal said. “Early in my time at UC Davis I was surrounded by mentors who modeled the UC Davis way and helped me learn how to think as a campus citizen.”

According to Carbahal this helped prepare her for her current role, which is less task-oriented and more about planning, strategizing and collaborating. This includes collaborating with UCOP and other University of California campuses to develop best practices and create predictable pathways for securing funding. “I work every day to make UC Davis a place that we can all be proud of.  This campus does so much with constrained resources and I’m proud to be part of a team that makes this happen.”

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