lobbyist in Washington tells this story on herself:
“I was at a wedding in Wyoming and my husband
said, ‘I’m surprised that people don’t
know what you do,’ and I said, ‘That’s
That may be true outside of the Beltway, but inside
the nation’s capitol, it’s a different
story: “I’m pretty visible here —
I play the local game.” And she plays it with
perfection. At UND the word is this: If you want to
do business in Washington, you want to get to know
At once everyone’s kid sister, everyone’s
college sweetheart, everyone’s best friend,
Garland is the consummate insider. On Capitol Hill,
in the offices of Senators Kent Conrad and Byron Dorgan
and Rep. Earl Pomeroy, they call her the “Queen
of the Dakotas” — an affectionate name
for one of Washington’s most effective lobbyists.
President of The Greystone Group, Garland gives North
Dakota’s Congressional delegation all of the
credit for the tremendous success the University has
enjoyed in attracting federal funding. But Conrad
(for whom Garland once worked as chief of staff),
Dorgan and Pomeroy would agree that no other single
individual has been as instrumental to the process
as Garland. In fact, the UND Alumni Association recognized
the Glen Ullin native in September with its highest
honor, the Sioux Award.
“I’m sort of the cog,” Garland
said. “I can advise people on how they can make
government work for them, whether it’s in a
regulatory way or a legislative way. I always see
my role as a coordinator, making sure the pieces get
Garland is more than the “cog,” however.
She is a key player in virtually every move UND makes
in D.C. In Washington, where the game is about access,
Garland knows how to get it. She knows how to open
doors. She understands how to take a 30-page proposal
and turn it into the three paragraphs that will gain
five crucial minutes with a key Congressional leader.
Garland seems to know everyone, and she seems to
know everything. Her word about protocol is gospel.
Her knowledge of the federal system — how it
works and how to work it — seems limitless.
Maybe that’s because her political roots go
back to 1968, when she worked on the Gene McCarthy
Garland’s first love was media. A 1968 graduate
with a bachelor’s degree in journalism, she
was hired by KXJB Televison and became the first female
on-camera television reporter in the state. After
earning a master’s degree in history from UND
in 1971, Garland moved to Washington, D.C., where
she took a job with the Public Broadcasting Corporation,
a relationship which still continues in some ways:
“Sesame Street” remains one of her favorite
clients. After a stint with Congresswoman Margaret
Heckler (who went on to be Secretary of Health and
Human Services under Ronald Reagan), Garland joined
Sen. Quentin Burdick’s team. In 1986 she established
her own consulting firm, with UND as one of her first
clients. In the early 1990s, she served as Sen. Conrad’s
chief of staff before returning to her lobbying firm.
Relationships on Capitol Hill — that means
everything, said Garland. But it is also about what
you know, and particularly what you know about who
you know, what motivates them, what pushes their buttons.
So there is a constant search for information.
“Every day, I spend two hours reading nothing
but The Post, Roll Call, the Times, The Hill, Congress
Daily, as well as reading through Internet updates,”
Garland said. “There is a constant barrage of
information. Trying to stay on top of everything to
do your job well is important.”
Part of Garland’s job is to take what she learns
and help UND match opportunities.
“This University has so many areas of expertise,
so many people doing research. But not all of the
research is of equal value to government,” said
Garland. “There is a sort of matrix you use
in helping your client.” She looks for opportunities
that will be of particular interest to members of
North Dakota’s delegation. She looks for opportunities
that have current federal importance, current state
importance. She looks for opportunities that match
the North Dakota delegation’s committee assignments.
“The variables change over the years,”
she said. “You have to constantly look for partners.
You have to change your strategy. None of this is
constant, and I think that is part of the value of
having somebody in Washington who is a constant.
“I’ve been through who knows how many
years of the appropriations process,” she continued.
“The process changes. We’re doing things
now that we didn’t do in the past. The University
leadership is very engaged in the process and provides
me with lots of access, lots of flexibility. I’ve
been very lucky to have good partners on the client