Government Relations & Policy Development


   Sarah A. Flanagan
Vice President for Government Relations and
Policy Development

Sarah Flanagan directs a comprehensive government relations effort focused on issues of government regulation, student financial assistance, and tax policy in coordination with NAICU's related state associations.

During her tenure at NAICU, Flanagan has been instrumental in a number of successful policy efforts, including securing sustained bipartisan political and funding support for the core federal student aid programs; creating new tax incentives for families to save and pay for college; and helping to ensure an appropriate balance between federal support for students and oversight of colleges and universities. Flanagan has an extensive background in higher education policy, education, and the federal government.

Before joining NAICU, she was the professional staff member for higher education on the Senate Subcommittee on Education, Arts and Humanities under Senator Claiborne Pell of Rhode Island, and the Staff Director for the Senate Subcommittee on Children, Families, Drugs and Alcoholism under Senator Christopher Dodd of Connecticut.

Flanagan received her B.A. degree from Providence College (RI) and her M.A.T. degree from Rhode Island College. She currently serves on the Board of Trustees of Beacon College (FL) and is a Trustee Emerita at Providence College (RI) and Mary Baldwin University (VA).

Stephanie Giesecke photo   Stephanie Giesecke
Senior Director of Budget and Appropriations 

Stephanie Giesecke is responsible for representing NAICU on budget and appropriations issues with Congress, the administration, and the higher education community.

Before joining NAICU in 1999, Giesecke was legislative assistant for the Association of Community College Trustees (ACCT), where she coordinated the association's legislative advocacy network, and served as liaison to Congress on budget and appropriations matters. Prior to joining ACCT in 1992, Giesecke was a legislative assistant for Rep. Bill Alexander (D-Ark.). In addition, she has been an active member of the Committee for Education Funding and served as its president in 2006 and 2019. She earned a bachelor's degree from Washington University in St. Louis (MO) , and a master's degree from The George Washington University (DC).

   Jody Feder, J.D.
Director of Accountability and Regulatory Affairs

Jody Feder is responsible for topics related to accountability and regulatory issues, including accreditation, state authorization, Title IX, and educational privacy.
She joined the NAICU staff in March 2017 after more than 14 years as a legislative attorney with the Congressional Research Service. At CRS, she provided nonpartisan advice and analysis to Members of Congress and their staff on civil rights and education law. Prior to attending law school, she wrote about federal education issues as an editor for Thompson Publishing Group. Feder earned a bachelor’s degree in Political Science and Government from Brown University (RI) and a law degree from Yale University (CT).

Karin1.jpg    Karin L. Johns
Director of Tax Policy 

Karin Johns was appointed NAICU’s director of tax policy in 1998. She is responsible for developing the Association's strategies on tax policy issues, and monitoring NAICU's interests in immigration, health care, and labor issues..  In addition, she serves as the association's liaison to the NAICU Secretariat.

Before joining NAICU, Johns was legislative director for Rep. Phil English (R-Pa.). She managed his legislative staff and was responsible for overseeing Ways and Means Committee issues, including tax policy, human resources, health care, Social Security, and trade. From 1990 to 1994, she worked for Rep. Fred Grandy (R-Iowa), including two years as a legislative assistant. Johns graduated from Westminster College in New Wilmington, Pennsylvania, with a B.A. in Information Arts, and a concentration in political science. After graduation, Johns attended the Fund for American Studies Institute on Political Journalism at Georgetown University in Washington, DC.

  Justin Monk
Director of Student and Institutional Aid Policy

Justin Monk is NAICU’s lead policy expert on Title IV federal student assistance programs and the institutional aid programs found in Titles III and V of the Higher Education Act (HEA). He also is responsible for developing association policy positions on student and institutional aid, in conjunction with the association’s member college, university, and association presidents.
Previously, Monk was the director of government affairs for the KIPP Foundation, where he was the key advocate advancing the foundation’s policy, legislative and regulatory priorities on Capitol Hill and in the Administration. He also served as the primary point person for federal stakeholders and helped develop written and verbal communications to advance KIPP’s policy agenda.
Prior to KIPP, he served as the director of policy at Student Veterans of America (SVA), where he focused on the intersection of veterans’ affairs and higher education and helped champion dozens of laws being passed to better serve our nation’s veterans.

Monk earned a bachelor of arts in psychology from Wake Forest University (NC) and a bachelor of science in business administration in economics from Appalachian State University (NC).

Suzanne Stokes Vieth photo   Suzanne Stokes Vieth
Director of State Relations and Outreach

Suzanne Stokes Vieth is responsible for cultivating and managing the association’s network of state executives, tracking emerging higher education issues at the state level, and serving as primary liaison with the Congressional Independent Colleges Caucus.
Vieth joined NAICU from the Population Association of America/ Association of Population Centers where she served as deputy director for government affairs. Previously, she served as the manager of congressional relations for the Association of Public Television Stations, where she worked extensively with the 158 public television licensees distributed across the country and helped establish the Congressional Public Broadcasting Caucus, to which she served as liaison. In addition, Vieth operated a consulting business serving a number of non-profit organizations with grassroots development, grant writing, and strategic planning. She began her career as a legislative specialist in the office of former U.S. Senator Christopher Dodd (D-CT).
Vieth is a graduate of the University of Michigan, where she earned a bachelor’s degree in political science.

   Cynthia Moore
Staff Assistant 

Cynthia Moore provides staff assistance to the government relations staff. She attended Central State University.