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All in for Wyoming

January 13, 2017
Alum Jody Levin
Jody Levin and U.S. Sen. Craig Thomas in 1998.

UW alumna Jody Levin has done some amazing things.

After graduating from UW in 1997, Levin was honored to spend five years working for the citizens of Wyoming in Sen. Craig Thomas’s office, eventually becoming legislative director.

“I worked in the dean’s office (in the UW College of Agriculture and Natural Resources) both as an undergraduate and grad student,” Levin says, “and I made a comment at one point in time to Professor Steven Horn that I wanted to go to D.C. to work on policy issues. He took my comment to heart, so when Sen. Thomas called and asked if he had any students he would recommend, I was one of those students.”

She adds, “I was very proud and very honored to work in D.C. on behalf of Wyoming constituents and specifically in agriculture.  And with my background and my education at the university and the College of Ag, I was able to put those skills to work for Wyoming.” 

“It was a true honor to work for Sen. Thomas,” she says. “I watched how he interacted and watched how he navigated political controversy and how he came to solutions and voting choices that were the right thing to do for Wyoming. He was a true champion for Wyoming and a true statesman, and I will tell you to this day I’m still not over (his death). He had that much of an impact on his staff. We’re all like a family, and so it was devastating for all of us.”

For Gov. Jim Geringer, she served as the inaugural Wyoming Endangered Species coordinator, and she served the telecom giant Qwest as director of public policy.

And for the past eight years, Levin has been a legislative consultant for Levin Strategic Resources, her own governmental and public relations firm—shaping public policy.

“My clients tend to be major employers in the state,” she says. “I’ve very much enjoyed being able to represent employers and employees and work with the legislature to try to find good solutions for Wyoming.”

Levin also serves as co-chair of the Dean’s Advisory Council for the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources and was previously vice-chair for the Wyoming Rural Development Council. She is married to Rob Levin, a UW business alumnus who lettered in football and serves as vice president of multifamily credit for Fannie Mae.

Levin grew up on a ranch near Boulder. That’s Boulder, Wyoming, she adds with a laugh. She came to UW to study agricultural education but then quickly switched to agricultural communications. She says, “I started to think about the practicality of a degree in agricultural education and being an ag teacher and whether that was the best route for me. I had had some communications classes and really felt like I thrived under that environment.”

She adds, “I had grown up participating in FFA so I had done a lot of public speaking, and I was really drawn to the ag communications discipline. I liked the cross disciplinary elements of agricultural communications. You study essentially every facet in agriculture, whether that was animal science or economics or dietetics—a broad-based degree.”

She then decided to go on to get her master’s in agricultural economics.

“When I was graduating with my undergraduate in agricultural communications, I felt that I needed additional depth,” she says. “I felt that having a good understanding of markets and the economy would serve me well in any discipline. And I feel that those two degrees together were a winning combination for me. I would credit my education in agricultural economics as serving me very well—understanding markets, understanding consumer preference, how they can drive choice.”

Her master’s wasn’t an easy path, though: “Math is not my strong suit, so a degree in agricultural economics was a challenge for me. I had to work hard and study. Professor Dale Menkhaus would spend countless hours with me trying to help me understand the course material.”

Wyoming has been so important to Levin: “I’m one of those people who are all in on Wyoming. I love Wyoming. I really do feel passionate about this wonderful state.”

Jody and Rob Levin have generously supported UW through the years, and they recently established an endowment that provides scholarships to UW ag econ graduate students. She urges others to support UW either through philanthropy or giving their time: “Giving back doesn’t always have to be monetary—there are a number of initiatives that benefit from volunteer activity.”

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