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.


Marissa Brewer

Associate Director of Advocacy

Marissa leads Illinois Connection, the U of I System’s grassroots advocacy program. Originally from Texas, Marissa began her career as a legislative aide in Washington DC for a U.S. Congressman, advising him on a variety of issues, including education policy. Marissa relocated to central Illinois from Washington, D.C. in 2009 to work for Illinois State University as the Associate Director of Development and Governmental Relations. In 2013, Marissa joined the University of Illinois to work in legislative advocacy.

Marissa has a BA in Public Administration from Texas State University and Master’s in Political Science from the University of Illinois Springfield Science. She also has a Certificate in PAC and Grassroots Management from the Public Affairs Council.


Mitch Dickey

Advocacy Coordinator

Mitch Dickey joined the University of Illinois System in July 2017 to work in legislative advocacy. A '16 Political Science graduate from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Mitch served two terms as Student Body President from 2014-2016. After graduation, Mitch began working on Illinois House Speaker Michael J. Madigan’s staff as a communications staffer. He is based in Chicago.


John Grosboll


John Grosboll, a senior at Urbana-Champaign, joins the office as a political science and economics major. John has also interned at the Illinois State Board of Elections and served as a runner at Giffin, Winning, Cohen and Bodewes Law Firm in Springfield. On campus, he is an active member of the Student Alumni Ambassadors and plays alto saxophone in the Marching Illini. He also serves as president of the Urbana Chapter of the Student Advocacy Coalition.

Taylor Holmes


Taylor Holmes is a junior at the University of Illinois at Chicago, studying Political Science and Public Policy. A native of Kansas City, Taylor has interned on the policy team for former Kansas City Mayor Sly James and the education team for the Kauffman Foundation. At UIC, she is the Vice President of Recruitment for the Student Advocacy Coalition and the Vice President of the Undergraduate Student Government.