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March 29, 2010

The University’s ‘eyes and ears on the ground’

Office of Government and Community Relations helps advance Rochester’s missions and priorities

Louise Slaughter

The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act has brought $41.8 million in funding to the University for more than 160 research projects over the past year.

Rep. Louise Slaughter joined President Joel Seligman, Provost Ralph Kuncl, and Medical Center CEO Brad Berk last month to mark the one-year anniversary of the signing of the federal stimulus bill and to highlight some of the University research that could have a far-reaching impact locally and nationally.

Behind the scenes of it all: the Office of Government and Community Relations.

The office’s staffers serve as a liaison between the University and elected officials in local, state, and federal government.

“We act on behalf of the University—the institution and all of our affiliates—and we advocate on their behalf at all levels of governments,” says director Josh Farrelman. “We advance their missions, their priorities, their projects. We’re their eyes and ears on the ground.”

That means communicating the University’s needs and priorities to government representatives and working to bring in more state and federal funding. They also relay information on funding opportunities to University researchers. It also means working with state and national associations, as well as monitoring legislation and regulations that will impact the University, like the comprehensive health care reform that recently was signed into law.

Maintaining positive working relationships with local representatives and collaborating efforts with national and regional community organizations is also part of the job.

The office is headed up by executive director Peter Robinson. Josh Farrelman, has been in the director role since 2007.

The staff has extensive legislative knowledge and experience working with public officials.

Prior to joining the University in 2005, Farrelman was assistant director for the American Library Association’s Office of Government Relations, where he worked to represent the organization’s legislative positions before the U.S. Congress. Prior to that, he served as senior legislative assistant to U.S. Representative Rosa DeLauro of Conn., and as legislative assistant for U.S. Representative Louise Slaughter in her Washington office.

Amy Happ, associate director, has been with the University since 2006, and previously worked in the New York State Senate in the office of Senator Carl Marcellino.

Colleen McCarthy, the office’s assistant director, was previously outreach coordinator for the City of Rochester’s communications bureau and communications director for the Monroe County Democratic Committee.

New Web site launched
Learn more about government
and economic development and
its impact on students, faculty,
staff, and alumni at the Office of
Government and Community
Relations new Web site,

As part of the office’s ongoing efforts to inform the community of the University’s interactions with governments on the federal, state, and local level, the office recently announced the launch of its new Web site, The site shows the University’s involvement in community relations and development activities.

“We hope this site serves as a valuable resource to our external and internal constituencies on the University’s activities and priorities, as well as a means to facilitate greater interaction with government and our surrounding community,” Farrelman says.

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