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Meet APLU’s Office of Governmental Affairs

APLU’s Office of Governmental Affairs works with its Council on Governmental Affairs to leverage the collective strength of member institutions to advance federal policies and funding levels that support and enhance the work of public research universities. The office also collaborates with fellow higher education groups, the business community, scientific organizations, and others on a range of issues critical to advancing the mission of public research universities. Get to know the staff in the Office of Government Affairs.

Image of Craig LindwarmCraig LindwarmVice President for Governmental Affairs

Why did you join APLU? It was the perfect combination of my interests: public policy and public higher education.

My undergraduate experience at Binghamton University, State University of New York, was transformative for me, particularly one course, Congress in American Politics. I discovered a passion for studying the function (or dysfunction) of our legislative branch of government. Through the years, my appreciation for the education Binghamton University provided me has only grown. It was natural that I ultimately took that appreciation for public higher education and passion for public policy to Capitol Hill where I worked for a member of Congress on education, budget and appropriations, immigration policy and other issues of importance to public universities.

When an opportunity to work for public universities through APLU came up, it seemed like the perfect chance to combine these multiple interests and work to provide others the opportunities I was fortunate to have. Nearly eight years later, I’ve never regretted the decision.

What work underway are most excited about at the association? APLU’s Powered by Publics initiative. I’m excited about Powered by Publics making real progress in boosting student success while also demonstrating in a visible way the commitment APLU members have to advancing the public good.

APLU’s Office of Governmental Affairs and the Council on Governmental Affairs are confronted every day with the impacts of declining public trust in the value of higher education. The challenges we’re confronted with by policymakers largely stem from public perception of the state of higher education.

What is your favorite thing to do on your day off? Life as Vice President of Government Affairs for APLU is far from the lifestyle of the stereotypical “K Street lobbyist” so I hate to conjure the image, but I love playing golf. For me, it’s a great way to detach from work, enjoy the company of friends and family, spend some time outdoors and get some exercise, all while whacking a ball with an assortment of clubs. Despite my significant ball contributions to ponds and deep woods, I’m usually able to keep a level head and greatly enjoy the game.

Image of Debbie AltenburgDebbie AltenburgAssistant Vice President for Research Advocacy and Policy

Why did you join APLU? When I moved to Washington, D.C. 24 years ago – I probably came with “Mr. Smith Goes to Washington” ideals – I wanted to make the world a better place. I advocate for higher education and research specifically because it helps individuals gain the knowledge, tools, and skills for the opportunity to succeed in life and helps society through the production of ideas, scientific discoveries, and technologies that can make the world a better place. At APLU, I get to combine my political and educational ideals.

What work underway are most excited about at the association? I am excited by all the work of our member institutions as well as APLU’s work to encourage greater and more diverse engagement in public higher education.

What was your dream job as a child? I, of course, wanted to be president of the United States. As an adult, I have tempered my expectations. But I do hope we see a woman elected president of the United States in my lifetime.

What was the last TV show you couldn’t get enough of? I have unapologetically binge-watched The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel and The Mandalorian. What can I say, I have varied tastes.

Image of LindseyLindsey TepeDirector, Governmental Affairs

Why did you join APLU? As a proud Arizona State alumna, I was excited to join an organization that supports and advances the mission of public institutions of higher education. And as a first-generation college graduate, I’m proud to advocate for policies that improve college access, affordability, and completion for all students.

What education or work experience had the greatest impact on you? Prior to working in the public policy field, I taught fourth and fifth graders in Chicago Public Schools. I wouldn’t be where I am today if it weren’t for the tremendous educators in my life who encouraged me to dream big and pursue my interests – it has been an amazing experience watching my students grow up and follow their passions as well.

What was the last concert you attended? On New Year’s Eve, I went to see a local 90s cover band – and a few of my favorite 90s bands showed up to play a song or two as well!

Image of CaronCaron GalaDirector, Agriculture and International Development, Governmental Affairs

Why did you join APLU? I joined APLU because I strongly believe that public education is vital for global leaders. The investment in public education allows us to provide citizens with tools needed to succeed in life. I am jazzed that every day I get to work in agriculture, conservation, nutrition, and international development – areas that I have both a passion for and experience in.

What work underway are most excited about at the association? At APLU, we are building a cohesive messaging and advocacy approach to support the foundational investments into agricultural, food, nutrition, and conservation research, education, and extension across the nation. We are working equally hard to build higher education development efforts globally. Capacity building for innovation is our forte. I am impressed by APLU staff and the members that we serve. We are motivated to survey the landscape for the best solution to a problem. When you understand all the possible paths to solutions, you better understand the best solution for the problem.

What’s your go to activity when you want to relax? I have an extensive family of plants. Our family garden includes raspberries, elderberries, boysenberries, and blueberries. I am also looking into growing more cut flowers. This year, I plan on extending my hobby to houseplants and bonsai.

What’s your secret talent? I can hit a softball from my right or left side.

Image of D'Elia WerneckeD’Elia WerneckeAssistant Director, Governmental Affairs

Why did you join APLU? I was drawn to the mission of the association and the great work being done here. In my previous job at Virginia Tech, I interacted with and benefitted from the Council on Governmental Affairs and I’m grateful that I get to continue to support and work with this wonderful community in my new role.

What work underway are you most excited about at the association? I am excited to work with internal and external stakeholders to advocate for critical student aid and research accounts as we begin the FY2021 appropriations cycle.

What is one thing on your bucket list? Scuba dive parts of the Great Barrier Reef.

Yvonne DarpohManager, Governmental Affairs

Why did you join APLU? When I decided to transition out of my previous job, I wanted to find something that aligned with my college degree in government and politics and my career aspirations. Ultimately, I chose to work at APLU because of its mission to expand access for students who are marginalized and underserved in our communities.

What work underway are most excited about at the association? I am most excited about the work we are doing on diversity and inclusion across the organization to ensure we incorporate different stakeholder (both internal and external) perspectives in our advocacy efforts.

What is one thing on your bucket list? Travel, travel, travel, but I’m terrified of flying!

If you could have dinner with three famous people who would they be? God (does he count?), Beyonce, Michelle Obama, and Bill Gates (if God doesn’t count lol)

  • Council on Governmental Affairs

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