Top D.C. lobbyist appointed VP for Federal Relations at Northeastern

Jack Cline poses for a portrait outside his Washington, D.C. office. Cline is joining Northeastern University from the University of Kansas. Photo by Alyssa Stone/Northeastern University

Jack Cline, an experienced Washington, D.C.-based higher-education lobbyist, has been appointed vice president for federal relations at Northeastern University.  

Cline is joining Northeastern from the University of Kansas, where he spent more than a decade advocating for the university’s interests on Capitol Hill as the Associate Vice Chancellor of Federal Relations. He was named a “top lobbyist” by the National Institute for Lobbying & Ethics, among other organizations. He’ll be bringing that experience to Northeastern starting May 2. 

“Top-tier research universities need a sophisticated and strategic approach to federal relations,” said Michael Armini, Northeastern’s Senior Vice President for External Affairs. “By recruiting Jack Cline we’re adding the kind of talent that will take us to the next level—in Washington, DC, and around the country. We’re thrilled to welcome Jack—and his vast experience—to the university.”

In his new role, Cline will work directly with members of Congress, the White House, and other higher-education advocacy groups to promote the interests of Northeastern across all facets of its teaching and research. That includes collaborating with university leaders to push for research funding, influence public policy, and raise Northeastern’s visibility among government stakeholders. 

Cline’s professional background spans positions in higher-education as well as government. Before his appointment at the University of Kansas, he was the Assistant Vice President for Federal Relations for the UMass system. 

Cline says he looks forwards to ensuring “that the priorities of Northeastern University are carried out in Washington.” 

Cline graduated from Harvard University in 1999 on funding as a third-generation GI Bill student after serving in the U.S. Marine Corps. He served in the administration of ​​then-Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney as the executive director of gubernatorial appointments and personnel. Prior to that role, Cline was an executive staffer in the administrations of Massachusetts Gov. Paul Cellucci and Gov. Jane Swift.

Cline says his work as a lobbyist brings together two key subjects that have personal significance to his own life experiences: Research advocacy and strengthening student financial aid programs.

“When I’m on Capitol Hill, I see those two priorities as my primary pillars,” Cline says. 

His passion for research—which he says spans the sciences to the humanities—is born out of personal tragedy. While working for then-Massachusetts Gov. Romney, his daughter Chloe fell ill with cancer. She passed away in November 2006.

“It changed the direction of my life,” Cline says, adding that he “wanted to do something different to honor her and help others down the road.” 

“It opened my eyes to the importance of increased funding for research, and the importance of funding research agencies, so that critical work can be done to bring solutions to the marketplace,” Cline says. 

The tragedy also propelled Cline into leadership roles at several science and research organizations, including the Association of American Cancer Institutes and the The Science Coalition, a nonprofit organization comprising leading public and private research universities that promotes continued federal investment in “fundamental scientific research,” where he was past president. 

As a former Marine who was able to pursue a degree in history using federal GI Bill benefits, Cline says he hopes to continue to push to strengthen student financial aid programs, such as the post-9/11 GI Bill.

“These programs are in place to educate our citizens, to strengthen the workforce and ultimately our economy and country,” Cline says. 

As Northeastern’s presence expands across the U.S., university stakeholders and interests increasingly span both coasts. That means Cline’s role will involve engaging congressional delegations from Maine to North Carolina to California. 

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