Meet Jia Meeks
As a young intern working in the Colorado General Assembly, Jia Meeks (first name pronounced “jaw”) had a crash course on how bills are drafted, passed and signed into law. Later, as a professional aide to a state senator, he helped constituents understand the lawmaking process so their voices could be heard.
While sometimes challenging, Meeks says helping people navigate a complex system was gratifying.
The CU Denver graduate now works on the university’s flagship campus, doing what he enjoys most: helping CU Boulder staff, faculty and students effectively communicate with external stakeholders and connect with the legislative process.
“Guiding our campus constituents through the legislative process is a key component of my role, as it takes some of the mystique away from accessing our government,” says Meeks, the legislative liaison between CU Boulder and the system Office of Government Relations (OGR). “Understanding how the political process works is something foreign to many people.”
Working in his role is a way for Meeks to give back to a university that first helped him get his foot in the door, through the CU at the Capitol program. “The knowledge I gained by attending committees, observing floor work and fulfilling research requests in my three years at the state capitol has been invaluable.”
During the state legislative session (which runs from Jan. 11 through May 10 this year), Meeks helps analyze hundreds of proposed bills on issues of interest to the CU Boulder campus. He distributes those flagged bills to various campus experts for feedback, and that information is subsequently provided to the OGR, who lobbies legislators on the university’s perspective.
The Office of Government Relations seeks to build successful partnerships between the university and external stakeholders—a full-time resource of which many campus constituents are not aware, Meeks says. OGR often asks CU experts to provide background information to legislators unfamiliar with particular topics or to testify in front of legislative committees in support of OGR’s lobbying efforts.
The office serves as a point of contact between the system’s four campuses and state and federal officials, as well as national organizations and government entities on issues related to higher education and research. It directly supports CU Boulder through representation and advocacy of the campus’ needs and interests with state and federal elected officials in Colorado and Washington, D.C.
The office also helps facilitate outreach away from the state capitol. For instance, OGR works with legislators to bring CU faculty to their respective districts, so the legislators’ constituents can interface with university experts on issues ranging from unmanned aerial systems (i.e., drones), conservative thought and policy, and managing water resources.
For students, staff or faculty who want to become involved in the legislative process, but don’t know where to start, Meeks is the one to contact.
“If you don’t know who to go to, go to me,” he says. “If there is any kind of government relations aspect to your initiative, my OGR colleagues and I are happy to be a resource for you.”
- Before inviting a state or federal official to campus, such as a legislator visiting a classroom
- Before planning off-campus group or individual meetings with legislators
- After an elected official contacts you for information or a visit
- Before testifying at a legislative hearing
The Office of Government Relations staff members assigned to the CU Boulder campus are as follows:
Have a general question pertaining to government relations? Contact Jia Meeks, legislative liaison, at firstname.lastname@example.org or 303-492-5526.
For issues pertaining to the state legislature, contact Kirsten Schuchman, assistant vice president of state relations, at email@example.com or 303-831-9295.
Contact Jack Waldorf, director of federal relations, for questions involving NASA, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), federal tax and athletics policy issues pertaining to higher education (e.g.,Title IX) or to schedule a campus visit with a member of Congress. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 303-831-6385.
Contact Heather Bené, assistant director of federal relations, for issues involving the National Institutes of Health (NIH), National Science Foundation (NSF), Department of Energy (DoE), Department of Defense (DoD), or immigration, education or social/sciences/humanities policy. You may also contact her to help schedule meetings with members of Congress, agencies or departments in Washington, D.C. She can be reached at email@example.com or 202-763-4467.
For help working with local governments, chambers of commerce or industry associations, reach out to Kim Calomino, manager of local government and community relations in the Office of Strategic Relations, at firstname.lastname@example.org or 303-492-2626.