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WGU Government Relations

Breaking down barriers and creating pathways to opportunity

WGU is designed to complement and supplement state systems and bring innovative, flexible, and attainable educational opportunities to individuals who historically have not been well served by higher education. Access to state need based financial aid programs will advance postsecondary opportunities and lead to better jobs and better lives for individuals and meet state workforce needs. But far too many states deny students equitable access to state financial aid (grant-in-aid). The map below details average employment, salary and financial aid status for WGU students and graduates in each state.

Grant aid available.
No aid available.
Limited aid available.

*Data from WGU Institutional Research (2020), WGU Student Services (2020).


Chris Bonnell

Vice President of External Relations

About Chris

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.

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Patrick Baker

Director of Government Relations

About Patrick

Hailing from the great state of Minnesota, Patrick helps lead and execute a nationwide state government relations strategy that creates pathways to opportunity by partnering with elected officials, political appointees, business partners and communities of interest to ensure WGU lives up to its credo of being built by states, for states. 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 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 dad to his beautiful daughters Eliza and Greta, and spending time with friends and family, especially if it’s at a brewery, winery or around a bonfire.

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Allen Clarkson

Director of Government Relations

About Allen

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.

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Dr. Rarkimm Fields

Director of Government Relations

About Rarkimm

Dr. Rarkimm Fields is a socialpreneur with over twenty years of successful leadership experience in the service based, higher education, and nonprofit industries. A native of Brooklyn, N.Y., Dr. Fields attained his PhD in Public Policy & Administration from Walden University. Dr. Fields dissertation was titled “The Ferguson Effect Impact on Police Officers’ Culture and Perceptions in Local Police Departments”. Rarkimm also holds an MBA and MSML degrees from Western Governors University, MS in the Administration of Justice from the University of Phoenix, and a BA in Political Science from Brooklyn College.

Rarkimm is a community advocate, educator, and social change agent as evidenced by his 15+ years of experience in nonprofit leadership as an Executive Director of Waste Not Want Not Inc., a 501(c)(3) nonprofit that focuses on mitigating waste and increasing awareness to food insecurity in the Metro Phoenix area, where he oversaw the government relations department and served as a business program faculty member at Western Governors University, assisting students reach their academic potential and educational goals through undergraduate degree attainment. 

Dr. Fields is an active member of the American Society for Public Administration (ASPA) and the Accreditation Council for Business Schools and Programs (ACBSP) where he volunteers, promotes, and supports social change initiatives through public administration at the Federal, State, and Local levels of government. Rarkimm’ s research interests include Policing, Social Justice & Sustainability Studies, and Education Policy Initiatives. To unwind Rarkimm is an avid traveler as well as book reader. He enjoys spending time with his wife of 28 years and their three grandsons. His favorite quote is “If you had FUN you WON”!

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Lyn Harry White

Director of Government Relations

About Lyn

In her role, 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, agency personnel as well as, business and community thought leaders.  

Prior to joining WGU, Lyn served as Director of External Affairs for CMOC Mining Corporation,  Clark Hill Law Firm, and Freeport McMoRan Mining Co, where for nearly two decades she served as the company’s Government Relations Director. In her public affairs roles, Lyn facilitated numerous public policy accomplishments. In addition, she has served on numerous associations, boards, and commissions.  

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. She is a graduate of Arizona State University. Lyn enjoys spending time with friends and family. She lives in Arizona with her husband Tim, son Dylan, and daughters Danyelle and Robyn.

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Emma Salomon

Director of Government Relations

About Emma

Emma Salomon is a Government Relations Director for Western Governors University, where she advocates for states to diversify their higher education options. She has spent over a decade working in state legislatures focusing on education policy. Outside of WGU, Emma serves on the board of non-profits that advance global connectedness and free market economies.

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Mindy Barham

Government Relations Manager

About Mindy

An advocate for equal access to higher education and opening doors of opportunity for all learners, Mindy leads WGU’s grassroots engagement and digital advocacy efforts at the state level.  She came to WGU in 2018 with decades of experience, working in various administrative roles across a diverse group of industries including building materials, heavy equipment, law enforcement and military training, healthcare insurance, and higher education.  A determined, innovative thinker with a knack for finding creative solutions to challenging problems, Mindy is passionate about serving the underserved through missions and volunteer work, as well as promoting fairness, justice, and inclusivity in the community.  A native of Seattle, Washington, Mindy currently resides in Raleigh, North Carolina where she enjoys spending time with her three children and granddaughter, playing piano, travel, sports, classic cars, and attending an eclectic mix of music concerts and events. Mindy received her B.S. in Business Administration Marketing from Western Governors University and is currently earning grassroots management certification through the Public Affairs Council.

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Brentni Henderson Langdon

Government Relations Manager

About Brentni

Brentni Henderson Langdon serves as a Government Relations Manager at Western Governors University (WGU) and has been with the institution since 2018. She also serves as a Title IX Investigator. Ms. Langdon previously served as a Regional Manager of Regulatory Affairs at WGU where she specialized in research, regulatory board outreach, and as a Subject Matter Expert (SME) for accounting education and licensure. Prior to joining WGU, Ms. Langdon served as the Associate Director of business development and research for the National Association of State Boards of Accountancy (NASBA) International Evaluation Services and Aequo International. She developed business and processes for evaluating international education for candidates including standards for the accounting profession regarding education. In this role, Ms. Langdon developed the international evaluation services department, trained evaluators, streamlined operational processes, and provided support for regulated professions, boards and review course providers seeking information and guidance regarding international education. She also served as the SME for education initiatives at NASBA both domestic and international. Ms. Langdon earned her undergraduate degree in business management, and her MBA and Master of Arts in administrative dynamics from Western Kentucky University (Bowling Green, KY). 

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Emily Riner

Government Relations Manager

About Emily

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. After moving to Kansas City, 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, four dogs, and a barn cat on their land in Kansas.

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