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Iowa Native Helping Shape Public Policy For NFL

By Douglas Miles
The Gazette, Cedar Rapids, Iowa.

As far back as her earliest days in the southern Iowa town of Chariton, Nicole Gustafson was resolute about her desired choice of profession.

Blessed with an early command of the language and a delivery equal parts consistent and persistent, Gustafson confidently scribbled her career choice on one of those “What do you want to be when you grow up?” preschool assignments.

“I think it was because of my parents,” Gustafson said with a laugh. “I would argue with them a lot. They always told me that I should put that to good use and become a lawyer.”

Gustafson — who turns 38 on New Year’s Day — has made good on that childhood declaration. After earning a law degree from the University Iowa and buoyed by the state’s grand exposure to politics, Gustafson set out for Washington, D.C., where she served 11 years as counsel in both the legislature and judiciary for a host of Republican lawmakers in the U.S. Congress, including Iowa Sen. Chuck Grassley.

Now, Gustafson finds herself branched out a bit from Capitol Hill into another realm — the National Football League.

“I don’t know that I want to leave the Hill, but it’s the NFL,” Gustafson recalled thinking at the time.

Gustafson is the NFL’s vice president for public policy and government affairs, a department tasked with developing the league’s public policy and legislative strategy in addition to assisting the individual franchises with local and state topics. Gustafson joined the three-person department 10 months ago under the direction of Cynthia Hogan, a former aide to Vice President Joe Biden with whom she became familiar with while helping reauthorize the Violence Against Women Act two years ago.

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