The Potluck

U of M hires former Senate minority leader as chief lobbyist

By: - August 16, 2023 2:20 pm

Minority Leader Melisa López Franzen, DFL-Edina, addresses the Senate with opening day remarks on the first day of the 2022 legislative session. Photo by A.J. Olmscheid/Senate Media Services.

The University of Minnesota on Wednesday announced it has hired former Senate Minority Leader Melisa López Franzen as its next chief lobbyist at the State Capitol. 

Beginning Aug. 28, López Franzen will be the U’s executive director of government and community relations, where she will oversee lobbying efforts for all five of the U’s campuses and lobby her former colleagues.

“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,” U Interim President Jeff Ettinger said in a news release.

López Franzen, who served three terms in the Legislature, decided not to seek reelection last year despite her leadership status because her former district was radically altered by redistricting. She’s the co-founder and president of a public affairs firm called NewPublica.

López Franzen will also be a member of the U’s “senior leadership team,” according to the release.

“I am eager to advocate on behalf of the University of Minnesota,” López Franzen said in the release. “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.”

With her new role with the U, she will join a growing list of former Minnesota lawmakers turned lobbyists, including former Sens. Tom Bakk, Patricia Torres Ray, Chuck Wiger and Jeff Hayden.

The U did not immediately respond to the Reformer’s request for López Franzen’s annual salary.

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Michelle Griffith
Michelle Griffith

Michelle Griffith covers Minnesota politics and policy for the Reformer, with a focus on marginalized communities. Most recently she was a reporter with The Forum of Fargo-Moorhead in North Dakota where she covered state and local government and Indigenous issues.