Meet the Staff
Interim Vice President for External Affairs & Government Relations
Chris was appointed interim Vice President for External Affairs and Government Relations for Washington State University in March, 2023. Reporting directly to the president, Chris oversees the university’s state, federal and regional government relations team and associated external affairs activities on behalf of WSU’s six-campus system. The team is responsible for advancing and advocating for university priorities at the state and federal levels, engaging relevant stakeholders in support of those aims, and connecting them with the broader university.
Chris came to WSU as Director of State Relations in December 2010, leading advocacy efforts in the statehouse. Since then, WSU has secured state support for a new campus in Everett, a new medical school based in Spokane and new facilities on all of WSU’s five physical campuses.
Prior to joining the team at WSU, Chris was senior communications specialist in the Washington State Senate for two years where he helped develop communications strategies and provided written communications for both print and digital audiences. He also previously worked for 11 years as a reporter at the Tri-City Herald, nine of them as its statehouse correspondent in Olympia.
A proud graduate of Washington State University (’97), Chris received his bachelor’s degree in Communications.
Assistant to the Vice President of External Affairs and Government Relations
Michele McCarver is assistant to the Vice President for External Affairs and Government Relations, and functions as a staff coordinator for the Department of Government Relations. Based in Pullman, Michele represents government relations on WSU’s main campus and coordinates meetings and events for the department across Washington state and in Washington, D.C. Michele first joined the government relations team as the assistant to the Director of Federal Relations in December 2005. Prior to that, Michele worked in the WSU Office of Research and the Graduate School.
Asst. Vice President for Federal Engagement & Advocacy
and Executive Director of WSU DC
Glynda Becker was appointed the Director of Washington State University Office of Federal Relations in 2012 and is based in Washington, D.C. WSU’s Federal Relations Office serves as liaison between WSU and members of Congress, their staffs, and executive branch agencies. The team promotes WSU research, education and outreach activities to demonstrate institutional alignment with key issues important to the delegation and administration, and to build awareness of WSU in Washington, D.C. Glynda develops effective stakeholder relationships to identify areas of confluence between public purposes, innovation, and the university’s research and academic capacity. Similar to our State Relations team, WSU Federal Relations works with lawmakers whose decisions are critical to higher education and research and represent constituents who work, learn and benefit from the University’s presence and partnerships; or count themselves among its alumni.
Glynda has diverse experience in policy work serving multiple clients based in the Pacific Northwest. Prior to joining WSU, Glynda worked at McBee Strategic, a consulting firm based in D.C., for six years where she offered policy and strategic communications counsel. Glynda began her career in Washington, D.C., working in the House of Representatives where she served three members over a span of more than seven years. She served as Legislative Director for former Minnesota Congressman Mark R. Kennedy (R-MN6) and on was on the staff for former Congressmen George Nethercutt (R-WA5) and Rick White (R-WA1). Prior to her time with McBee Strategic, Glynda served as staff in the President George W. Bush Administration in several capacities including the Department of Commerce, and various roles in the White House, working on issues important to the state of Washington.
Assistant Director of Federal Relations
Jacob Dowd most recently served as the advocacy and government affairs specialist at the International Foundation for Electoral Systems where he worked to advance IFES’ advocacy efforts ranging from briefings on international elections to keeping leadership updated on federal policy developments that impacted core programs.
Prior to IFES, Mr. Dowd was the federal relations coordinator at the University of Nebraska where he advanced the university’s priorities on a range of legislative issues from yearly appropriations to COVID relief. Mr. Dowd routinely connected faculty and administration staff with members of Congress and congressional staff to discuss federal legislation, respond to questions, and explain research funding requests. Working with a federal team dispersed across four campuses, he advocated for policy issues critical to a major research university system and for the higher education community.
Prior to joining the University of Nebraska, he was the senior government relations specialist at the National Education Association (NEA). At the NEA he provided research and analysis to lobbyists on current and proposed federal legislation and worked as lead with department staff on federal advocacy initiatives and events. Prior to NEA Jacob was at the International Republican Institute, working on projects in Southeast Asia assessing political affairs, developing, and leading national training programs, and coordinating with diverse stakeholders.
Jacob received his Bachelor of Arts from Nebraska Wesleyan University and earned a certificate in the Asian Pacific Leadership Program from the East-West Center in Honolulu, Hawaii. He lives in Washington D.C.
Assistant Director, WSU State Relations
Connor Haggerty is the Assistant Director in the Washington State University Office of State Relations, located in Olympia, Washington. He liaises with members of the state Legislature, their staff, and other higher education stakeholders on behalf of the office, helping organize and advance WSU’s institutional priorities.
Prior to his current role, Connor spent four years as the Policy and Affairs Coordinator for the office and spent a year and a half working as legislative staff in the Washington State House of Representatives. He was the student lobbyist for Washington State University Vancouver, representing the interests of students before the Legislature while earning his bachelor’s degree in Public Affairs (’17).
Catalina “Cat” Amortegui
Policy and Affairs Coordinator, WSU State Relations
Catalina “Cat” Amortegui is the Policy and Affairs Coordinator in Washington State University’s Office of State Relations and is based in Olympia, Washington. The Policy and Affairs Coordinator serves as a liaison between WSU and the office of Washington’s legislative delegation and staff focusing on policy tracking, educational opportunitites and outreach activities. Before her current position Cat served as the Policy and Affairs Coordinator for WSU Federal Relations for close to 5 years, located in Pullman. Cat has a strong connection to WSU, dating back before she joined the WSU Government Relations team. She began her studies at WSU Tri-Cities before relocating to Pullman. Cat earned a bachelor’s degree in political science with a global studies emphasis in 2016 while working in WSU central IT. Before graduating she joined the Office of Research in the proposal submission and processing office. Cat was born in Colombia and moved as a political refugee with her family to Costa Rica in 2001, then to Richland in 2004.
Communications Consultant, WSU External Affairs and Government Relations
Heather Dykstra is the Communications Consultant for the Washington State University Office of External Affairs and Government Relations (EAGR) and is based out of the State Relations office in Olympia, Washington.
In her role, Heather oversees the development and graphic design of outreach materials, publications and digital content for the EAGR office. This includes designing legislative brochures and white papers, event guides and websites, custom maps, university facts sheets, infographic posters, and email marketing campaigns. In addition to this work, Heather also oversees the Government Relations website and legislative bill tracker, assists in organizing special events and tours, coordinates travel and office administration for State Relations and assists the EAGR office with purchasing, processing invoices and procurement card reconciliation.
Heather is a graduate from Washington State University Vancouver, where she earned her bachelor’s degree in English (’09).
Director, Health Sciences Public Policy and Advocacy
Patti A. Stauffer joined Washington State University in May 2021 as the Director for Health Sciences Public Policy and Advocacy.
She has more than 25 years of administrative and public policy experience with non-profit organizations and academic institutions working to improve health outcomes, with an emphasis on women and children. Her career has been dedicated to expanding access to health care, promoting community-based health professional education opportunities, advocating for data driven policy solutions, and supporting research focused on health disparities and the social determinants of health.
Patti grew up in a rural community in Iowa and has historical family ties to the greater Coeur d’ Alene / Spokane area. Prior to coming to Washington State University, she served in public policy roles in Kentucky and Indiana and was the associate director for Florida International University Herbert Wertheim College of Medicine’s Division of Research, Data, and Information.
Stauffer has a B.S. in biology and a M.S. in environmental science from Indiana University.
Director of Seattle and Regional Relations
Dana Ulrich is the Director of Seattle and Regional Relations at Washington State University (WSU) in the Office of External Affairs and Government Relations. In this role she serves to connect the University to a variety of constituencies in the Puget Sound region, including local governments, businesses, civic and trade associations, and international organizations by sharing information and seeking opportunities to bring the University’s resources to bear on regional issues.
Joining WSU in 2016, Dana formerly served as the Director of Corporate Engagement from 2016 thru July 2022. Dana also a co-led diversity and inclusion efforts for the WSU Foundation as a member of the organization’s grassroots DEI advocacy group.
She previously worked in corporate engagement roles at Washington University in St. Louis (2009-2016) and the University of Missouri-St. Louis (2005-2009). She holds a degree in Social Work from the University of Missouri-St. Louis.
Additionally, Dana is a member of NACRO (2015-present), a network of higher education corporate relations professionals focusing on industry best practices and currently serves as the NACRO Board co-President.
Katie Robertson Gziryan
Director of Public Affairs
Katie Robertson Gziryan joined WSU in February of 2022 as Director of Public Affairs, working closely across the External Affairs and Government Relations and Marketing and Communications teams to align and coordinate government relations, strategic communications, issue and advocacy management, university research initiatives, and information dissemination.
Prior to joining WSU, she served as senior communications manager for justice policy at the Urban Institute, where she worked with researchers and communications staff to raise the visibility of research and in-depth analyses and engage critical audiences to improve justice policy and practice at the national, state, and local levels.
She previously held strategic communications positions at the Seattle Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce and in both federal and local government offices, serving as digital content manager for the Mayor of Seattle and deputy press secretary for U.S. Senator Patty Murray.
Katie holds a bachelor’s degree in communication with a concentration in journalism from George Mason University’s Honors College.