Lisa Arafune - Director of Outreach

Lisa Arafune is the Founder and Principal Consultant of Forge Policy Solutions, providing advice, action, and solutions to associations and organizations.  She brings two decades of experience representing higher education and university-based research interests on Capitol Hill.  


As Director of Federal Relations for Purdue University, Lisa has advocated for the research community before Capitol Hill and major Federal science and research funding agencies, including NSF, DoD, USDA, NIH, DoE Science, NASA, and DoEd.  She works with the Task Force for American Innovation, the Coalition for National Science Funding, the Energy Sciences Coalition, and the Coalition for National Security Funding, to further investment for research in these critical areas.  


She was the Director of The Coalition for Academic Scientific Computation (CASC), an educational non-profit 501(c)(3) professional organization with 90+ member academic institutions.  She acted as a conduit to keep the membership informed of strategic opportunities that will lead to their institution’s success. She led CASC’s interests in Washington, DC, as well as nationally at computing meetings.


Lisa has served as a Member of the Board of The Science Coalition.  She serves as the elected Chair of the XSEDE ($20 mil/year NSF funded cyberinfrastructure resource) Advisory Board; Member of the Executive Committee for the Women in High-Performance Computing; and selected as Government Relations Lead on the Planning Committee for the SuperComputing Conference Series.  She is a speaker at national computing and engineering conferences.


She began her political interest with the Indiana State Senate working for the Senate Majority Leader. She continued with the U.S. House of Representatives serving as Chief Clerk for a Congressional Committee. 


Additionally, Lisa has served clients in the automotive manufacturing industry while utilizing her business Japanese language skills.  She is always eager to visit a factory floor and interact with the manufacturing process, whether it is in the United States, Germany, or Japan.  


Lisa holds a BS and an MS from Purdue University; she also holds an MBA from Budapest University of Economic Sciences in Hungary, and a certificate from École Supérieure de Commerce de Rouen in France. 


Mark Burnham - Director of Policy

Burnham is the President and Founder of The Burnham Group which he established after more than 20 years of advocating for universities, large research facilities, and associations in Washington.  Burnham is a graduate of the University of Michigan with a B.A. in Political Science. He began his career on Capitol Hill on the staff of a now senior Member of Congress and Appropriations Subcommittee Chair. While there, he worked his way up to serving as the Congresswoman’s liaison to the House Appropriations Committee with a focus on appropriations for NASA, the National Science Foundation, NIST and the Veterans Administration.  His work included establishing a mental health research lab at the VA, increasing funding for NASA’s Earth Science Missions, and developing the legislative foundation for the World War II Memorial. Following law school at Boston College, he worked on several major product liability cases for the law firm JonesDay.  

In 1998, Mark joined a lobbying firm representing several universities and science consortia including Caltech, Fermilab, and Jet Propulsion Laboratory. Burnham worked on support for numerous large research projects, as well as several Federally Funded Research and Development Centers (FFRDCs).  This work involved not only advocating across numerous Congressional delegations and committees but also across a myriad of federal agencies, including NIH, NSF, DOE, NASA, NOAA, and NIST.

Five years later, Mark joined the University of Michigan Washington office as the Director of Federal Relations for Research.  There, he represented the largest federally funded research portfolio in the nation to the federal agencies and Congress. Working across NSF, the Dept of Energy, NASA, the Department of Defense (6.1, 6.2 and DARPA) and the National Institutes of Health, Mark partnered with faculty to develop new relationships within the agencies, achieve support for the major research agencies from Congress and work within the various national associations to support community-wide efforts, including the Association of American Universities (AAU), the Association of Public and Land-Grant Universities (APLU) and the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC).  

In 2006, Mark was recruited to Michigan State University (MSU) to lead the effort to bring a Department of Energy national user facility to campus.  He worked with the Director of the National Superconducting Cyclotron Lab (NSCL) to craft an unsolicited proposal to the federal government, then worked with Congress to ensure DOE permitted the first open competition between a national lab and a university to run a major research institution.  MSU succeeded in winning the competition to build the Facility for Rare Isotope Beams (FRIB). Ultimately, despite having to defeat efforts to defund the project before construction could begin, this $730 million major research facility was funded, built and will open for business in 2021. Mark was also able to secure more than $97 million in support from the State of Michigan for the FRIB project, which is conservatively projected to have more than a $4 billion financial impact on the State of Michigan over the next 20 years.

In 2013, Mark was promoted to Vice President of Governmental Affairs at MSU.  There he built a sophisticated operation which played a major role in the development of the last Farm Bill, led the effort to establish the second urban farm research station in the nation, helped secure state support for the IACMI facility in Detroit, secured state funding for research and teaching facilities, and managed the plethora of policy impacts for a campus of 50,000 students, 12,000 employees with more than 500 buildings and the nation’s largest on-campus housing operation.

Over the course of his 20-year career, Mark has amassed a deep understanding not only of how Congress and the Administration work, but also how universities, research associations, and businesses operate.  

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L. David Cherington - Executive Director 

With 25 years of experience working on and off Capitol Hill, David has developed a breadth of knowledge focused on impacting federal budgets and policy, especially in science and technology programs. David has worked for a Congressman on the Appropriations Committee, on the Professional Staff of the Senate Armed Services Committee, and for an Ivy League University. On behalf of science and technology giant Battelle, David worked to expand federal funding for scientific and technological discovery and application, and to amend laws to build wider support for research and development programs that support our nation’s security.


In 2014, David created DC Government Relations, LLC to work on behalf of business, academic and government clients as an independent consultant. As Principal for DC Government Relations, David has created an opportunity to take his 25 years of experience and knowledge to deliver results for his clients.


David also is the co-founder and managing director of the Advanced Nuclear Weapons Alliance (ANWA) Deterrence Center and ANWA Advocacy. ANWA educates and advocates for the modernization of the U.S. strategic nuclear deterrent. In this role, David and his colleagues are bringing together industry, academia, national laboratories and other decisionmakers and stakeholders to build support for our nation’s nuclear deterrence into one organized community of communities.


As Executive Director of Government Relations for National and Homeland Security for Battelle, David served as the primary liaison between Battelle’s National Security Division and Congress and the White House. In this role, David worked to grow business for the National Security business units that focused on national and homeland security, the intelligence community, environmental, critical infrastructure, and transportation. David also represented to Congress and the White House the Battelle managed National Labs in their role in National and Homeland Security. In addition to building key relationships with Members of Congress and their staff, David also built key contacts in coalitions, consortiums and other groups or organizations to help build mutual support for legislation and policy that was important to Battelle and the Battelle managed National Labs.


As Counsel for the Senate Armed Services Committee, David was assigned to oversee the nations’ nuclear weapons program within the National Nuclear Security Administration at the Department of Energy, the legacy cleanup program of the former nuclear weapons complex, and the defense environmental programs. In this role, David helped draft major changes in law, including robust support for the nations’ stockpile stewardship program, completion of the accelerated clean up and closure of the Rocky Flats Nuclear Weapons Plant including the creation of the Rocky Flats National Wildlife Refuge—a nine-year effort that began while David served on the staff of the U.S. House of Representatives—and the transfer of the Energy Employees Occupational Illness Compensation Program from the Department of Energy to the Department of Labor.


David began his career working for a Member of the House Appropriations Committee where he supported his boss who became a national leader on several issues including the cleanup and closure of the Rocky Flats Nuclear Weapons Plant in ten years or less. When their efforts began on this initiative, the closure schedule was over 65 years and $14 billion more than the final closure cost. Next for Princeton University, David worked to secure and increase federal funding for the Fusion Energy Program within the Department of Energy Office of Science. In both roles, David was effective in working across the broad spectrum of offices to ensure the policies and funding levels sought were attained.


Cherington received a Juris Doctor from Western Michigan University’s Thomas M. Cooley Law School in Lansing in 1993 and a Bachelor of Arts from the University of Colorado in Boulder in 1989.