About Us

What We Do

  • Advocate for Princeton with members of Congress, Congressional staff and executive branch officials on these issues
  • Provide information and answer questions about Princeton and our issues of interest
  • Collaborate with peer higher education institutions and associations on policy issues of common concern
  • Bring faculty, administrators and students together with policymakers
  • Brief Princeton administrators and faculty on developments in Congress and the executive branch 
  • Outreach to Princeton alumni working in Washington, D.C., in key policy positions
  • Host the Princeton-in-Washington summer program coordinator

Who We Are

The Office of Government Affairs reports to the vice president for communications and government affairs, Gadi Dechter.


Joyce Rechtschaffen  

Assistant Vice President  

Joyce Rechtschaffen ’75 became the director of Princeton University’s Office of Government Affairs in 2006. Prior to joining Princeton, Joyce spent 17 years in the U.S. Senate, including service for Senator Joseph I. Lieberman (D-CT) as staff director on the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee and counsel to the Clean Air and Nuclear Regulation Subcommittee of the Committee on Environment and Public Works. She worked on legislation establishing the Department of Homeland Security, the 9-11 Commission and the Director of National Intelligence. She also worked on the Clean Air Act Amendments of 1990 and climate change legislation. Prior to Senate service, Joyce was a senior attorney with the Environmental Enforcement Section of the U.S. Department of Justice and practiced litigation at a law firm. Joyce received her A.B. degree from Princeton in 1975 (majoring in the School of Public and International Affairs) and earned her law degree from Harvard in 1978.  

She has served in key leadership positions in the Association of American Universities (AAU) and as chair of the Public Issues Committee of the Consortium on Financing Higher Education (COFHE). She received the 2020 “Legacy Award” from AAU in recognition of her distinguished contributions to, and national leadership in, the higher education community. 


Julie Groeninger  


Julie Groeninger joined Princeton University's Washington, D.C., office in June 2011.  Prior to joining the office, Julie served as a legislative assistant for the late New Jersey Senator Frank R. Lautenberg, working on issues related to education, immigration, housing, and campaign finance.  She has also worked for Senator Carl Levin (D-MI) and the Senate Sergeant-at-Arms.

During her time at Princeton, Julie has taken on a number of leadership roles, including serving as chair of the Council on Federal Relations at AAU; chair of the AAU Task Force on Immigration; and chair of the Task Force on Innovation. She currently co-chairs the Energy Sciences Coalition, a consortium of universities, national laboratories, and industry partners who support the Department of Energy Office of Science.

In 2022, Julie received the President’s Achievement Award, one of Princeton University’s highest honors.  She has also received the “Ripple Effect Award” from AAU, in recognition of her public service contributions to the higher education community. 

Julie graduated from Hope College in Holland, Michigan, in 2004 with degrees in history and political science.



Aaron McClendon  

Assistant Director  

Aaron McClendon joined Princeton University's Washington, D.C., office in March 2020 after working as a public affairs coordinator for a lobbying firm in New York. He worked on community event planning and relationship building with state legislators throughout the Northeast. He also interned for Congressman Donald Norcross (D-NJ) through the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation, and worked on community relations and government affairs initiatives for multiple advocacy and non-profit organizations in Philadelphia.  

Aaron graduated Summa Cum Laude from Fairleigh Dickinson University in Teaneck, New Jersey with a B.A. in English Language and Literature and a dual minor in Political Science and Legal Studies.  

He currently serves as chair of the AAU’s Task Force on Humanities, and as Secretary of the Board of Directors for The Science Coalition. 


Brenda Whitelaw

Government Affairs Associate

Brenda joined Princeton University's Washington, D.C., office in December 2022 after serving on the Development Team at Georgetown University's Law Center. Brenda's academic career began at Howard University, where she worked for almost a decade before transitioning to a team at Georgetown University's Medical Center in 2008.  

Brenda graduated from Georgetown University with a degree in Liberal Studies.