Office of Governmental Relations Staff

Jennifer Creasey

Senior Director of State Relations

Jennifer joined the University of Illinois in March 2014, stepping into the role of Senior Director of State Relations. Before that she was with AARP Illinois, and previously served as Deputy Director of Boards & Commissions/Agricultural & Environmental Affairs in the Office of Governor. Jennifer has also worked in a number of political internships in both Washington D.C and Springfield.

She has a BA in both Political Science and Speech Communications from the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign and was selected for the Dunn Fellowship program after graduation in 2004. Jennifer went on the complete her Master’s from the University of Illinois, Springfield in Political Science. Jennifer represents the University in both the Capitol and the community to advance its priorities. She is also responsible for outreach, state legislative advocacy efforts, strategic partnerships, and management or relationships around the state. Through this work, she works very closely with the U of I legislative caucus and U of I alumni throughout the state.

In 2016 she was nominated to participate in the U of I Edgar Fellows Program. Before coming to the U of I, Jennifer was the AARP staff lead for State Healthcare Legislation and implementation of the Affordable Care Act for the AARP Illinois Legislative Office. She is a member of the Springfield YMCA board, and an active member of a number of community and professional development groups.


Nolan Drea

Assistant Director of State Relations

Nolan Drea joined the University of Illinois in February 2019, as the Assistant Director of State Relations. A graduate of Urbana's Gies College of Business, he previously worked on Illinois Senate President John Cullerton's staff for seven years. He is based in Springfield.


Paul Weinberger

Director of Federal Relations

Paul Weinberger, a veteran congressional staffer with two decades of experience on Capitol Hill and with federal agencies, joined OGR as director of federal relations in April 2017. Previously, Paul served as vice president of congressional and public affairs for the U.S. Government's Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC), overseeing the agency’s communications, legislative and outreach team and strategies. Before joining MCC, he was director of congressional relations for the Peace Corps. Paul also served as legislative director for U.S. Senator Russ Feingold, as counsel for the House Committee on Government Reform, and as a staffer for U.S. Senator Robert C. Byrd. Paul is a graduate of Yale University and Harvard Law School.


Melissa Haas

Associate Director of Federal Relations

A native of Illinois, and a proud alumna of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Melissa joined the federal relations team in May 2013 from the congressional staff of Rep. Peter Roskam (R-IL), former Chief Deputy Whip and a member of the House Ways and Means Committee. She interned for Rep. Roskam during college, then after graduation, served as the front office ambassador, supervised the internship program, managed the Congressman's large constituent mail operation, and ultimately advised Rep. Roskam on a variety of legislative issues important to the U of I, including higher education, agriculture, and immigration.

Melissa first joined the U of I federal team as a federal relations specialist, and has since served as an assistant director of federal relations, acting director of federal relations and now in her current post as associate director of federal relations. She spent her first three years working out of OGR's DC office, and has been based out of OGR's office in Chicago since spring 2016.


Deon Thomas

Community Relations Coordinator

Deon Thomas joined the OGR team as a visiting community relations coordinator in November 2017. Prior to joining OGR, Deon was the Director of UIC Engage, a community outreach program through the College of Education. The Engage program through education and mentoring granted him the opportunity to be on the frontlines with community leaders as well as the young people in the program and throughout the community. Before that, he served as assistant coach of the UIC Flames men's basketball team. Deon attended the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign where he played basketball for the Fighting Illini. Deon is based out of OGR's Chicago office.


Emily Tuttle

Federal Relations Specialist

Emily joined the Office of Governmental Relations as the inaugural student fellow in 2017, and now serves as the Federal Relations Specialist.  Prior to joining the OGR team last year, she interned on Capitol Hill with the House Committee on Ways and Means Subcommittee on Health and Congressman Rodney Davis. Emily has a bachelors degree from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in business administration with a minor in political science. She is based in Washington, DC in the U of I System’s federal office near Capitol Hill.


Marvin Slaughter

OGR Fellow

Marvin Slaughter, a senior at Chicago, joins the office as a political science and economics major. Marvin has also interned with State Senator Michael Hastings, and for the Illinois Campaign for Political Reform. On campus, he is a member of the UIC Action Plan to Increase Civic Learning, Political Engagement, and Voting Rates, and serves as president of the Chicago chapter of the Student Advocacy Coalition. He was recently awarded the Newman Civic Fellowship for his dedication to improving community life and educating students on the importance of civic and social responsibility.