About CASE

Pam Russell
Director of communications


For Immediate Release
December 4, 2009

Higher Education State Government Relations Officers Honored for Contributions in the Field

ORLANDO, FLA.-Two higher education state government relations professionals who strengthened public support for their institutions and higher education overall through extraordinary leadership and creative initiatives are the 2009 recipients of the Service Awards in State Government Relations.

The two awards are given annually for leadership in state relations and institutional advocacy. They are the only national awards in higher education state relations, a field that encompasses advocacy and outreach efforts on behalf of colleges and universities to governors, state legislators and other key policymakers.

The awards are administered by the American Association of Community Colleges, the American Association of State Colleges and Universities, the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities and the Council for Advancement and Support of Education.

2009 Government Relations Award Recipients

Sherri Fulford, executive director of governmental affairs at Auburn University, is the recipient of the Marvin D. "Swede" Johnson Achievement Award. Justin Lonon, associate vice chancellor for public and governmental affairs for the Dallas County Community College District, is the recipient of the Edwin Crawford Award for Innovation.

The winners received their awards on Thursday, Dec. 3, during the 2009 Higher Education Government Relations Conference sponsored by the four associations at the Buena Vista Hotel in Orlando, Fla.

Fulford has been in governmental affairs for almost 27 years. She is the first female lobbyist for higher education in Alabama and is considered an expert on the state's budgeting process and employee benefit programs. During her career, she has built strong working relationships with lawmakers, legislative staff and leaders of the executive branch.

In addition to serving on a number of committees and boards of directors that support higher education, Fulford has worked to grow the profession and involve students, employees and alumni in advocating for higher education. This includes training students in grassroots lobbying techniques and involving them in key legislative issues through an annual leadership conference. In a nominating letter, Auburn Montgomery Chancellor John Veres said Fulford "is perhaps most deserving of the award because of the leadership she has provided to her profession and to the cause of higher education."

Lonon has overseen government relations at Dallas County Community College District since 2005. During this time, he has built key relationships with state and national legislators. Accomplishments include rebuilding DCCCD's governmental affairs program, resurrecting its political action committee and developing advocacy or "A" teams, made up of trustees, students, employee groups and others, which advance the institution among key constituents.

He has worked to engage students in numerous projects, bringing their stories about the value of community colleges to state legislators in Austin, Texas, as well as to U.S. senators and representatives in D.C. In his nominating letter, Chancellor Wright Lassiter Jr., noted that Lonon's approach to governmental relations includes "all of the absolutes as well as innovative methods that tell DCCCD's story, garner more funds and legislative support and place students front and center so they can tell their stories and talk about the value of community colleges in their lives."

The Marvin D. "Swede" Johnson Award, named for the former director of state government relations at the universities of Arizona and New Mexico, comes with a cash prize and a crystal award. The Edwin Crawford Award, named to honor the 40 years of state government relations work by Edwin Crawford, a former director of public affairs and state relations at CASE, Auburn University, the University of Virginia, Ohio State University, and the University of California System, also comes with a cash prize and a crystal award.

About CASE

CASE believes in advancing education to transform lives and society. As a global nonprofit membership association of educational institutions, CASE helps develop the communities of professional practice that build institutional resilience and success in challenging times. The communities include staff engaged in alumni relations, fundraising, marketing, student recruitment, stakeholder engagement, crisis communications and government relations. CASE is volunteer-led and uses the intellectual capital of senior practitioners to build capacity and capability across the world.

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