About Us

Our team is passionate about helping students succeed. Find your state government relations director below and start the conversation about where WGU can make a difference in your state. 

Patrick Baker

Director of Government Relations—Midwest Region
Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, South Dakota and Wisconsin

Hailing from the great state of Minnesota, Patrick helps lead and execute strategies to advance the University’s mission and goals with elected officials, political appointees, and business leaders in pursuit of public/private partnerships for WGU in the Midwest. Prior to his role at WGU, Patrick served as Vice President & Director of Government and Institutional Affairs for Greater Mankato Growth, his hometown regional Chamber of Commerce and Economic Development Organization. Patrick was also fortunate to work for the National Governors Association in Washington, D.C. where he served as a legislative associate in the Office of Federal Relations. Patrick graduated from Concordia College in Moorhead, Minn., with a B.A. in Political Science and holds a Graduate Certificate in Public Management from George Mason University in Fairfax, VA. Outside of work, Patrick enjoys road tripping with his wife Claire, being a new dad to his beautiful daughter Eliza, and spending time with friends and family, especially if it’s at a brewery, winery or around a bonfire.

Mindy Barham

Government Relations Manager

As Government Relations Manager, Mindy leads the WGU grassroots engagement program and digital advocacy efforts in all 50 states. Mindy is a seasoned professional with over 25 years of experience serving in administrative, project management, government relations, and compliance roles across a diverse group of industries: building materials, heavy equipment, government contracts, police and military training, healthcare insurance, and higher education. Mindy is a determined, innovative thinker with a knack for finding creative solutions to challenging problems. Her passions include serving the underserved through missions and volunteer work, as well as promoting fairness, justice, and inclusivity in the community. Mindy graduated from Western Governors University with a B.S. in Business Administration – Marketing and is currently earning Grassroots Management Certification through the Public Affairs Council. She is a native of Seattle, Washington, that currently resides in Raleigh, North Carolina with her three children and one grandchild. Mindy’s hobbies include travel, sports, classic cars, attending an eclectic mix of music concerts, and she is a classically trained pianist.

Allen Clarkson

Director of Government Relations—Central Region
Indiana, Kentucky, Michigan, Ohio, West Virginia

Allen has been with Western Governors University since 2005 in both faculty and administrative roles. He works to increase access to affordable, quality education for students in collaboration with policymakers, institutions, and businesses. Beyond access to education, Allen emphasizes the credibility of workforce-aligned degree programs to change the lives not only of students but also their families and communities. Prior to his time at WGU, Allen was a Latin, Public Speaking, and Computer Science teacher, taught graduate-level Technology Management and Emerging Technologies, and pursued extensive research in and practiced digital forensics, investigation, user rights, and law enforcement methods. Allen received a B.A. in Classical Studies and Philosophy and an M.S in Technology Management from Marshall University, and J.D. and M.J. degrees from Michigan State University College of Law. He also holds certificates from Christ Church College, Oxford, and Humboldt Universität, Berlin. Allen and his wife have four children who remind him on a regular basis that, at the end of the day, being a dad is the highest title to which he can aspire.

Emma Salomon

Director of Government Relations—Southeast Region
Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Mississippi, North Carolina, Tennessee, South Carolina

Emma Salomon is Western Governors University’s Director of External Affairs in the Southeast, where she advances the University’s mission of expanding access to higher education to underserved populations through state governments. Prior to joining WGU, she represented the University as a consultant in North Carolina, where she specialized in advising education groups and non-profits. She entered the world of state legislatures through the North Carolina House of Representatives, where she worked on education and appropriations issues for chairmen from rural districts. Emma spent 14 years of her childhood in Southeast Asia and the Middle East, where she learned from an early age that talent is universal, but opportunity is not. She is passionate about the value of international experiences; she received her B.A. in International Relations from North Carolina State University, and serves on the board of Go Global NC, a non-profit that facilitates global engagement. Outside of work, Emma can usually be found cooking new dishes, hiking the mountains with her husband, or reading spy novels.

Melissa Luke Mitton

Director of Government Relations—West Region
Arizona, California, Nevada

Committed to increasing access to high-quality higher education, Melissa Mitton leads WGU’s government relations strategy in the West. Before joining WGU, Melissa worked in public relations and federal relations for the Association of American Universities in Washington, D.C., focusing primarily on student aid and campus climate issues. Previously, Melissa worked at Stateside Associates in Arlington, VA,  where she consulted for a variety of K-12 education clients as well as postsecondary education organizations. The Florida native began her career in state government relations in Tallahassee, first working for a state Senator and later at the Associated Industries of Florida.

A first-generation college graduate, Melissa holds a master’s degree from Nova Southeastern University and a bachelor’s degree from Florida State University. Melissa lives in Salt Lake City with her husband and her dog. In her spare time, you can find Melissa playing beach volleyball, skiing, camping, or hiking.

Matthew Windrum

Director of Government Relations—Northeast Region
Connecticut, Delaware,  Maine, Maryland Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, Virginia

Born in Brooklyn and a nearly life-long resident of the New York City suburbs, Matthew helps design and implement strategies to expand higher education access to underserved communities through collaboration with state governments across the Northeast. Prior to joining WGU, he was Director of Government & Community Affairs at NYC-based nonprofit The Doe Fund, which develops affordable housing across the city and runs a work training program for homeless and formerly incarcerated men. But his government affairs career began in earnest at the British Consulate General, where he was Head of the Political & Economic Affairs Team and worked to promote and defend the UK’s economic, foreign policy and national security priorities across New York, New Jersey and Pennsylvania. He has an MA in International Relations from Johns Hopkins University and a BA in Political Science & Spanish from Lafayette College, and lives with his wife Susan and two teenaged children in Croton-on-Hudson, NY. Outside of work, you will find him watching his kids play sports, gardening (with mixed success), volunteering to raise awareness and understanding of epilepsy and seizures. Or on a beautiful summer night, in the South Bronx cheering on history’s greatest baseball team, the New York Yankees.

Lyn White

Director of Government Relations—Northwest Region
Alaska, Colorado, Hawaii, Idaho, Montana, Oregon, Utah, Washington, Wyoming

Lyn works on behalf of WGU students, faculty and employees to advance WGU’s mission and goals with elected officials at all levels of state government and agency personnel, as well as business and community thought leaders. Prior to joining WGU, Lyn was Director of External Affairs for CMOC Mining Corporation, Clark Hill Law Firm and Freeport McMoRan Mining Co. For nearly two decades she served as the company’s Government Relations Director. In her public affairs roles, Lyn facilitated numerous public policy accomplishments. She has extensive expertise in government affairs and management at the local, state and federal levels of government. In addition, she has a wide range of experience in civic, community and political activities including serving on numerous associations, boards and commissions. She is a graduate of Arizona State University with B.A. in Political Science. Lyn enjoys spending time with friends and family. She lives in Arizona with her husband Tim, son Dylan, and daughters Danyelle and Robyn.

Chris Bonnell

Vice President of External Relations
Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Mississippi, North Carolina, Tennessee, South Carolina

Chris Bonnell serves as the Vice President of External Relations for Western Governors University. Chris has decades of experience in higher education external relations with a focus on state and local legislative affairs. Chris is an established public policy leader in the fields of competency-based education and psychology, with a focus on issues of mental health and providing solutions/services. He is also passionate about philanthropic leadership and work that ensures the needs of the community are met in a thoughtful, solution-based manner. Chris holds a law degree from Hamline University School of Law and is a graduate of Concordia College. In his personal life, Chris is passionate about hockey and a board member of the Hobey Baker Memorial Award Foundation, an annual award given to the top National Collegiate Athletic Association men’s ice hockey player.

Emily riner

Government Relations Manager

Emily has been with WGU since 2019, serving students as an instructor in the Teachers College before transitioning to her role in government relations. She graduated from the University of Minnesota with degrees in political science and psychology before moving to Kansas City. There her passion for education was sparked during her tenure with Teach for America. Emily received her Master’s in Curriculum and Instruction from the University of Missouri-St. Louis, her Educational Doctorate in Educational Leadership from the University of Missouri-Kansas City, and an Education Specialist in Principalship from Arkansas State University. As the product of a first-generation college graduate, Emily is thrilled to be in a position where she can continue the work of ensuring that all students, no matter their background, have access to an excellent education. In her free time, you’ll find her reading, hiking, visiting our national parks, and enjoying being outside with her husband, five dogs, and a barn cat on their land in Kansas.

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