Moller is new legislative director

Mary Moller was named Portland State’s new government relations director in early October after the resignation of Jesse Cornett, who held the position for nearly three years.

Mary Moller was named Portland State’s new government relations director in early October after the resignation of Jesse Cornett, who held the position for nearly three years.

“I have full faith in Mary’s talents and ability,” Cornett said. “President Wiewel has a great team that will make sure government relations at PSU remains strong as ever.”

As the director of government relations, Moller will be the chief liaison between Portland State and policymakers at the local, state and federal levels of government, according to Lois David, Portland State chief of staff.

The director is also responsible for monitoring legislation, programs and proposals at all levels of government, as well as assessing the potential implications and opportunities for Portland State, Davis said.

“[Moller] has a deep understanding of the issues that impact the university. She also has important experience from outside of Portland State,” Davis said. “Because of this invaluable background, [Moller] will be able to hit the ground running and represent the university well at all levels of government.”

Ensuring that Portland State has adequate and stable public funding is the university’s top legislative priority for the coming year, Davis said.

“[The university] will also be involved in discussions that the Governor’s Reset Committee is having about how Oregon’s higher education system should be structured and governed in the future,” Davis said. “Finally, at the request of the House Committee on Education, we will be involved in conversations about strategic partnerships between [Portland State] and [Oregon Health and Science University].”

Moller worked alongside Cornett as the associate government relations director for two years, during which time she focused on federal issues. In 2001, as a political science student at Portland State, Moller was elected student body president. Upon graduating in 2002, she moved to Washington, D.C., where she worked for Congressman David Wu for four years. Moller also worked for two years as the legislative director of the United States Student Association, a national student organization that advocated for higher education.

“Government relations will look a little different now,” Moller said. “It will be a team environment—the associate [director] and I will look at state, local and federal issues as a package.”

Moller said that it’s important for both the associate and primary directors to stay current with the legislative issues in both the national and state capitols.

“This will allow more people to be qualified to answer questions and report to the university president with updates,” Moller said. “It’s a comprehensive approach.”

Moller is also interested in the success of student legislative initiatives. She and ASPSU President Jonathan Sanford meet almost weekly to strategize and share information.

“She is a great advisor to me and she’s also just a very cool person,” Sanford said. “Mary is great and I’m glad to have her in that position.”

Cornett, who has not publicly announced his future plans, received both his undergraduate and graduate degrees from Portland State and said he “bleeds Viking green.”

Cornett said that during his time as director he was credited with securing the funds needed to complete the new Student Recreation Center, which allowed the School of Social Work to become part of the project.

“[Portland State] wasn’t fighting for capital construction or deferred maintenance until the very end of the session in 2009 because I was able to lead the way for PSU to have funding for all of our projects initially requested,” he said.

Also under his leadership, over $9 million more in backlogged projects was inserted into an early session stimulus package, Cornett said.

“Perhaps most of all, I’m proud of my role in making sure the New Leadership Oregon received stable funding from the state,” Cornett said.

New Leadership Oregon is a Portland State-based program that works to put women throughout Oregon into the leadership pipeline.