URI announces appointments of state, federal government relations directors

KINGSTON, R.I. – Sept. 16, 2021 – The University of Rhode Island announced today the appointments of Carlos Lopez Estrada, deputy director of administration and senior adviser to Mayor Donald R. Grebien in Pawtucket, and Lauren Broccoli Burgess, a registered lobbyist and assistant director of government relations for the American Veterinary Medical Association, as directors of Legislative and Government Relations.

Lopez Estrada, who has served as a senior adviser, deputy director of administration and chief of staff to two Rhode Island mayors, started Sept. 7. Broccoli Burgess, formerly a senior lobbyist and consultant at Lewis-Burke Associates, LLC., serving as a senior policy expert on higher education, federal research and federal appropriations, will join the University on Oct. 18.

“I am excited to welcome Carlos and Lauren to the University community as we build our state and federal government relations programs and initiatives,” said URI President Marc B. Parlange. “While Carlos will focus on state and regional collaborations, Lauren will add complementary skills in federal government relations activities, creating a strong team to help move the University’s key strategic initiatives forward on both fronts. Both will be members of the senior leadership team and report to the President.”

Carlos Lopez Estrada

Carlos Lopez Estrada

A URI alumnus and Talent Development graduate, Lopez Estrada returns to URI after years of experience in government relations working alongside chief executives and state lawmakers, and building a deep understanding of the workings of government at all levels in Rhode Island, along with a proven record of cultivating and maintaining relationships.

“I am excited to join President Parlange and the senior leadership team,” said Lopez Estrada, who lives in Cranston. “As a proud Rhody alum, I am blessed to return to a place that has meant so much to me in my academic, professional and personal life. My time at URI gave me the foundation to develop a successful career in government and politics. Now I am able to apply my close to two decades of experience for the betterment of the University and its vision for the future. I look forward to being a part of the team to bring our state’s flagship higher education institution to the next level.”

As deputy director of administration and senior adviser to Pawtucket Mayor Grebien, Lopez Estrada was the lead advocate for the city at the Statehouse and General Assembly. Previously, he was the first Latino chief of staff to Cranston’s first Asian American mayor, Allan Fung, from July 2012 to January 2019, serving as senior adviser in all aspects of Fung’s administration.

From July 2011 to July 2012, he was director of intergovernmental affairs, including relations between the City of Cranston and state legislators, the governor’s office, and state’s congressional delegation. Prior to that, he was director of communications and media relations for the Cranston mayor’s office from February 2011 to 2016, and director of constituent affairs from January 2009 to July 2012. He was also a campaign and political consultant to Fung for more than a decade.

As a director of government relations at URI, Lopez Estrada will develop, plan and administer the overall state government relations activities for the University. He will serve as liaison to the General Assembly, the governor’s office, and the state’s congressional delegation, along with the Office of Postsecondary Commissioner, Board of Education and Board of Trustees.

He will assist in developing and implementing communications strategies for government relations projects for the University, including bond referenda. He will also head University efforts on state funding, and promote appropriate legislation for the University and higher education

Lopez Estrada earned his juris doctor degree from Roger Williams School of Law in 2001 and his bachelor’s degree in political science and history from URI in 1994.

Lauren Broccoli Burgess

Lauren Broccoli Burgess

A native of Rhode Island, Broccoli Burgess comes to URI with extensive experience and knowledge at the state and federal level in government relations. She has a lengthy record of work on higher education issues and federal research policy. Her background includes seven years as a registered lobbyist and consultant on Capitol Hill, as a legal policy clerk in Gov. Lincoln Chafee’s administration, and as an aide to U.S. Rep. James Langevin.

“I am thrilled to join the University of Rhode Island as director of government relations,” said Broccoli Burgess. “This new role is an exciting opportunity on both a professional and personal level as I return to my home state after a decade in Washington, D.C. I look forward to working with President Parlange and the senior leadership team to advance the University’s strategic priorities at the national level.”

As assistant director of government relations for the American Veterinary Medical Association since November 2019, she advanced the priorities of 97,000 association members to federal lawmakers, identifying legislative opportunities and challenges. She also assisted efforts to increase diversity in the veterinary profession and advocated for federal programs that addressed student debt and access to care in underrepresented communities.

Previously, she was a senior lobbyist and consultant at Lewis-Burke Associates from March 2014 to November 2019, serving as a senior policy expert on higher education, federal research and federal appropriations. She worked with several public and private universities in New England, including the University of New Hampshire, Northeastern University, Boston University, and Tufts University.

Broccoli Burgess is also a founding member and current chairwoman of the State Society of Rhode Island, representing the interests of the nonpartisan organization in Washington, and spearheading diversity, equity and inclusion initiatives.

In her role at URI, she will develop and cultivate working relationships with the congressional delegation and their staffs to strengthen the University’s effectiveness at the national level, including assisting the vice president of Research and Economic Development in coordinating activities involving the delegation and federal agencies in Rhode Island.

Broccoli Burgess earned her juris doctor degree from Roger Williams in 2012 and her bachelor’s degree in communications from Boston University in 2009.