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Council on Governmental and External Relations


The mission of the Council is to support the University of Illinois System by building and sustaining effective partnerships with the state, federal, and local governments. The Council coordinates and shares advice and expertise with relevant units across the system. It works to engage with stakeholders in alumni relations, the private sector, think tanks, associations and other external parties. COGER plans and oversees effective outreach and advocacy campaigns targeting elected and other high-level government officials. Current members include:


  • Jennifer Creasey, U of I System, Assistant Vice President External Relations and State Relations


  • Marissa Brewer, U of I System, Director Advocacy
  • Mick Crumbock, UIC, Director of Government Relations and Advocacy
  • Nolan Drea, U of I System, Associate Director State Relations
  • Kyle Peebles, Illinois Institute of Government & Public Affairs, Senior Coordinator of External Relations
  • Bob Flider, UIUC, Director of Community and Government Relations
  • Emily Gibellina, UI Health, Assistant Vice Chancellor for Health Affairs Advocacy and Government Relations
  • Marty Gutierrez, UIC, Senior Director Government Relations and Advocacy
  • Sue Johnson, U of I Foundation, Assistant Vice President Marketing and Communications
  • Melissa Haas, U of I System, Director Federal Relations
  • Phyllis Hayes, UI Health, Assistant Vice Chancellor for External Engagement
  • Jisu Hong, U of I System, Associate Vice President Economic Development and Innovation
  • Molly Lamb, UIS, Executive Director Center State Policy and Leadership
  • Lauren Messmore, UI Health, Assistant Director Health Affairs Governmental Relations
  • Kirsten Ruby, U of I System, Director External Relations and Communications
  • Joan Sestak, UIS, Director of Community and Governmental Relations
  • Alan Solow, U of I System, Special Advisor External Relations
  • Kathy Sullivan, Institute of Government & Public Affairs, Assistant Director
  • Jeanette Tamayo, U of I System, Associate Vice President for Workforce Development and Community Engagement
  • Ben Taylor, U of I System, Associate Director of Communications, Office of the VP for Economic Development and Communications
  • Theresa Thomas, U of I System, Office of Governmental Relations, Advocacy Specialist
  • Stephen Wald, U of I Extension, Assistant Director of Government Affairs
  • Paul Weinberger, U of I System, Assistant Vice President Federal Relations, Vice Chair
  • David Merriman, Institute of Government and Public Affairs, Interim Director
  • Rick Winkel, Prairie Research Institute, Deputy Executive Director

Ex officio members

  • Tim Killeen, U of I System, President
  • Adrienne Nazon, U of I System, Vice President for External Relations and Communications

Advocacy Guidelines

There are many ways in which university employees engage with government officials and their staff in the course of their work–from inviting officials to campus to testifying at legislative hearings to visiting legislators in their offices. COGER has established a set of guidelines to help coordinate advocacy efforts for the U of I System. If you are planning on advocating on behalf of the U of I System, please review these guidelines and contact the Office of Governmental Relations with any questions.