To my University of Illinois family--
I wanted to share with you the news that I am leaving the Office of Governmental Relations (OGR), effective this Friday, February 27. I will return to Capitol Hill next month, where I will lead the congressional office of Rep. Cheri Bustos as her Chief of Staff.
Planting the Flag
Four years ago, the University of Illinois opened its Washington office and hired me to grow our national presence—a dream job for any alum.
Since that time, I have been privileged to chart the federal landscape with bright students, big thinkers, and visionary leaders from all three campuses and university administration. I have been privileged to work with our congressional delegation, the White House, the federal agencies, and our national higher education and research associations to ensure our voice was heard on the most pressing federal issues of the day and that we availed ourselves of new funding opportunities.
I am indebted to President Robert A. Easter for a leadership style rooted in integrity and for trusting me to lead demanding projects. Working for him, our chancellors, and the larger University of Illinois community has been a tremendous honor that has better prepared me to continue my work in public service.
A Rising Star for Illinois
I never dreamed I would return to Capitol Hill, but this opportunity is simply irresistible. Like a moth to light, I am drawn to Congresswoman Bustos’ energy and dynamism. I am honored to lead the talented team she built both in Washington and in her northwest and central Illinois district. Leaving the university is not easy, but it is made less difficult because I will work for a hardworking member of Congress who believes so passionately in what we do. It will be a privilege to serve as her top advisor.
As a UIS alumna and parent, Congresswoman Bustos values the university’s mission to build human capital and educate the next generation of leaders. She built strong relationships with the university during her first term, when she was a frequent supporter of our research programs.
Rep. Bustos demonstrated that commitment at the highest level by using precious face time with President Barack Obama on Air Force One to urge him to bring the UI LABS-led Digital Manufacturing and Design Innovation Institute (DMDII) to our state, knowing it would also strengthen the Rock Island Arsenal and other manufacturers in her district. She worked closely with Vice President for Research Larry Schook last year on a series of roundtables to chart an economic development plan for jobs in her district.
This work will continue.
Together, I know we will build on that strong foundation and be an eager partner to President-designate Timothy Killeen in his quest for the University of Illinois, as a preeminent public research and land-grant university, to help engineer prosperity throughout our state.
We’ll work hard to ensure the promise of DMDII is realized in her district, and I know my work will continue with many of you in my new role.
Continuity in Operations
Together with Lewis-Burke Associates, OGR has built a strong infrastructure to service the many needs of our three campuses and university administration.
These systems will endure.
Melissa Haas—soon to be in her third year with UI, and a co-architect of many of these systems—will now step forward as Acting Director of Federal Relations. April Burke and her talented firm will continue to provide Melissa and our university with even stronger levels of support until such time as a permanent director is named. Those of you who have worked with Melissa and April know you are in dedicated and capable hands.
With Heartfelt Thanks
Thank you for all you have done to elevate the University of Illinois' national profile during the past four years. If we have functioned well, it is only because of the partnership of so many who have helped us succeed along the way.
Please stay in touch. My personal email address is firstname.lastname@example.org, and my telephone number will remain (917) 628-8804.