State Relations builds relationships while developing and implementing strategies to advance UW–Madison’s priorities with the state legislature, the governor and other state agencies.
Director, State Relations
Ben Van Pelt
Assistant Director, State Relations
Assistant Director, Outreach Programs
Director of State Relations
Crystal Potts is the Director of State Relations for the University of Wisconsin-Madison. In her role, she serves as the point-of-contact for state government relations, including the governor’s office, state legislature, and state agencies. She also assists in the creation and implementation of a statewide advocacy effort on behalf of the university.
Crystal previously served as the chief of staff to Wisconsin State Senator Howard Marklein (R-Spring Green). In this capacity, she also supported the legislature’s budget-writing Joint Finance Committee as the senate staff lead on tax and local government issues. She also served as the research assistant and staff clerk to the Committee on Ways & Means in the State Assembly early in her career at the Wisconsin State Capitol.
Originally from the Twin Cities, Crystal is a proud graduate of UW-Madison with a BA in political science and Chinese. She lives in Fitchburg with her husband, son, dog, and two cats.
Ben Van Pelt
Assistant Director of State Relations
Ben Van Pelt serves as the Assistant Director of State Relations for the University of Wisconsin-Madison. In that role, he is an additional point-of-contact to the Director for all things state government relations. He also assists in statewide advocacy and outreach efforts on behalf of the university.
Prior to joining UW-Madison, Ben held the appointed position of Legislative Liaison for the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources. His work at the DNR put him in charge of all state-level legislative interactions between the Department and policy-makers. Before that, he lobbied for the American Heart Association here in Wisconsin and held a variety of positions in the State Capitol earlier in his career. Outside of work Ben has had the pleasure of being appointed to a number of City of Madison committees dating back to 2012 and serves on the Board of Directors for the Dane County Chapter of the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) since 2016.
Originally from Illinois, Ben is a proud graduate of UW-Madison with a BA in political science and English. He lives downtown, right by the Capitol, with his girlfriend and two dogs.
Assistant Director of Outreach Programs
Fran is overseeing the development of UW Connects, a statewide outreach initiative for University Relations. UW Connects includes Badger Talks, Bucky’s Classroom, and Wisconsin Ambassadors. She has 15+ years of experience in program development, event management, community and public relations, marketing, and communications. Formerly the Community Relations Manager at Monona Terrace Community & Convention Center, she served as a spokesperson for the facility, managed events, and developed robust partnerships within the Madison business community. In addition, she previously served as an Outreach Program Manager at UW–Stevens Point. Fran has a Bachelor of Arts from the University of Illinois and an MBA in marketing from DePaul University.
State Relations along with University Relations is developing and delivering messages on UW–Madison priorities with the state legislature while fostering relationships throughout the state.
As of late June 2019, the state Legislature finished its work for the last session. Read an update about the last session.