About the Government and Community Relations Office
The Government & Community Relations Office (GCR) is a small and mighty team devoted to advancing Berkeley Lab’s research, institutional, and good neighbor goals and objectives by engaging and partnering with federal, state, and local government officials, community leaders and neighbors, and the K-12 STEM education community. The team is led by Executive Director for Government and Community Relations Don Medley, who recently announced his plan to retire at the end of June 2022 after over 19 years at the Lab. Strategic Communications sat down with Don and GCR leads to discuss the role that the office plays in supporting the Lab’s mission and the vision they have for the future.
GCR Roundtable Conversation
Can you describe in broad terms how the Government and Community Relations Office (GCR) supports Berkeley Lab?
Jonathan Nurse, Director, Federal Relations: GCR educates external stakeholders on the capabilities and needs of the Lab through activities such as virtual and in-person briefings. These exchanges often lead to the Lab being called upon to offer thoughts on relevant policy proposals, which helps further our mission and advance the public good.
What does success look like at the end of the day?
Jim: Our goal is always to deliver on the opportunities to bring the Lab’s unique research strengths to the State of California. More broadly, success is defined by awareness of the Lab at the state level. There are many people in Sacramento who still confuse Lawrence Livermore and Lawrence Berkeley, so it can be as basic as getting an understanding of who we are and what we do.
What would you say is the most important aspect of your role or your roles?
Jonathan: From my perspective, it's important that policymakers have the facts as they consider legislative and regulatory proposals impacting science. On the federal level, we have built a reputation on Capitol Hill as a trusted resource. We're a one-stop-shop for everything that they would want to know about the research that takes place at Berkeley Lab and its potential impact on the nation. They don't have to dig around a website to find a researcher to offer thoughts on a policy or funding proposal.
How do you develop that proactive agenda, and how are you proactive on behalf of the Lab?
Let’s switch gears a little bit and ask you about the impact of some of the wins you’ve seen.
Jenn: I have to say, I was proud of the fact that we were able to come together as a Lab and as a community to celebrate the Lab’s 90th anniversary even though it was in the middle of the pandemic and we couldn’t gather in-person to mark the milestone. In terms of impact, the 90th-anniversary campaign allowed us to shine a spotlight on the people that make Berkeley Lab the incredibly special place that it is while also increasing the visibility of the Lab in the broader community, reinforcing the message that we’re here to do good for the public.