Staff Directory

Staff Directory

Durham-Based Staff
324 Blackwell Street
Suite 920


Chris Simmons
Associate Vice President, Office of Government Relations
(919) 668-6270

Chris came to Duke in 2006 after having served in advocacy roles for the Association of American Universities (AAU) and the American Council on Education (ACE) in Washington, DC. Prior to working for the higher education associations, Simmons was a policy analyst for the National Commission on the Cost of Higher Education and Assistant Director of Admissions at Willamette University in Salem, Oregon.

He is the past Chairman of the Board for the North Carolina Museum of Life and Science and is a recent co-chair for the Ad-Hoc Tax Group. He is a former member of the National Association of Independent Colleges and Universities (NAICU) Board of Directors and AAU Council of Federal Relations Steering Committee.

Simmons is a graduate of Willamette where he majored in rhetoric and art, and received his graduate degree from Harvard University. He lives in Chapel Hill with his wife, two daughters, and son.

Melissa Vetterkind

Melissa Vetterkind
Director, Office of Government Relations
(919) 668-0761

Melissa came to Duke in 2003 after serving for almost six years as a Legislative Assistant and Systems Administrator to Congressman David Obey (D-WI).  She began her career serving as an intern in Congressman Obey’s office while she was an undergraduate at the University of Wisconsin-Superior. Melissa returned to the congressman’s office full time after graduation, and has been involved in legislative matters ever since.


Arlene Melchiorre
Project Coordinator, Office of Government Relations
(919) 668-6286

Arlene Melchiorre joined the Office of Government Relations in May 2017 after spending 8 years as a staff assistant in Duke’s Office of Durham & Regional Affairs. Prior to Duke, Arlene worked as an Administrative Assistant at Syracuse University where she received a BA in Information Management and Technology. She is currently enrolled in the Duke Graduate Liberal Studies Program working towards a Master of Arts in Liberal Studies.



Washington, DC-Based Staff
1201 Pennsylvania Ave. NW
Suite 500

Jeff Harris

Jeff Harris
Director, Duke in DC
Associate Director, Government Relations
(202) 524-4992

Jeff Harris joined the Government Relations Staff in June 2015. Prior to joining Duke Jeff spent six years at the Aspen Institute, where most recently he was the senior manager for Public Affairs and Policy Program Communications. Before the Aspen Institute, Jeff worked for President Obama’s first Inaugural Committee, the Center for American Progress, and various state and national political campaigns. He is a 2007 Duke Public Policy graduate and earned a Master’s in Public Management degree from Johns Hopkins University in 2014.



Colin Colter
Program Specialist, Duke in DC
(202) 578-6506

Colin joined the Office of Government Relations in November of 2016. Previously, Colin completed a United Nations Fellowship at the Alliance of Civilizations Institute in Istanbul, Turkey with a focus on intercultural dialogue and Turkish language skills. Prior to his stint in Turkey, Colin has worked in government contracting, has conducted fieldwork on micro-finance with Grameen Bank in Bangladesh, and has taught advanced biology in rural Vietnam.  

Colin is a Duke 2015 graduate who majored in International Comparative Studies and was a four-year varsity saber fencer and captain his senior season.