University of Minnesota hires executive director of Government and Community Relations
The University of Minnesota announced today that Melisa López Franzen will serve as its new executive director of Government and Community Relations, effective August 28.
In this critical leadership role, López Franzen will report directly to the president and serve as a key member of the University’s senior leadership team. She and her team are responsible for advancing the University System’s work in partnership with local, state, and federal officials, while also building and strengthening relationships with stakeholders and supporters throughout the state and beyond.
"Melisa is a knowledgeable and dynamic leader. Her meaningful experience in the legislative process, as well as the respect she’s earned from a broad array of state, federal and local officials, will make her an outstanding leader for our government relations work,” said Interim President Jeff Ettinger. “Under Melisa’s expert leadership, we will build a balanced, effective government relations team to continue advocating for the University of Minnesota and advancing the work we do every day to serve Minnesotans.”
López Franzen has deep and varied experience in non-profit, corporate, government and community engagement, including a decade of experience in the Minnesota Senate. She is currently the president of NewPublica, a multicultural communications consulting firm she co-founded, as well as an adjunct professor at the U of M’s Humphrey School of Public Affairs. During her time as a state legislator, she served as the Minnesota Senate Minority Leader and held a number of committee appointments, including with the Health and Human Services, Commerce and Consumer Protection, Transportation and Public Safety, and Higher Education and Workforce Development committees. She also worked in government and employee affairs for Target Corporation, developing advocacy strategies for key policy issues. López Franzen earned a juris doctorate from the Mitchell Hamline School of Law, a master’s from the Humphrey School of Public Affairs, and a bachelor’s in Political Science from the Inter American University of Puerto Rico.
“I am eager to advocate on behalf of the University of Minnesota,” said López Franzen. “Its research focus and land grant mission are significant assets to our state, and I am humbled by this opportunity to contribute to this great institution.”
In this new leadership role, López Franzen will lead advocacy efforts for the entire University of Minnesota System at the Capitol in Saint Paul, in Washington, D.C., and among many community partners and neighbors throughout Minnesota. Her team’s work includes reinforcing the distinct value of the University’s five campuses and other locations statewide by highlighting the U of M’s mission-oriented service as a public university, and its positive economic and research impact to the state and country as one of America’s leading research universities.