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A yearly highlight for Nancy Haas, a licensed peace officer, is serving on the State Fair police force. (Submitted photo)
A yearly highlight for Nancy Haas, a licensed peace officer, is serving on the State Fair police force. (Submitted photo)

Breaking the Ice: Public service passion leads from Capitol to Fair

Name: Nancy Haas

Title: Attorney, Messerli Kramer

Education: B.A., political science, St. Olaf College, J.D., William Mitchell College of Law

Attorney Nancy Haas, who chairs the governmental relations division in Messerli Kramer’s St. Paul office, lobbies on clients’ behalf at every legislative session.

Her work leading lobbying efforts that helped win adoption of Minnesota’s marriage equity law in 2013 stands out.

“There will never be something as monumental as knowing that I was able to be a part of helping to change history and help people in their lives,” Haas said.

Lobbying work aside, a yearly highlight for Haas, a licensed peace officer, is serving on the State Fair police force.

“That’s an opportunity for me to get my public service fix,” Haas said.

Before lobbying, Haas worked in the legislature, for state agencies, the Minnesota Board of Peace Officer Standards and Training and former St. Paul Mayor Randy Kelly.

Q. What’s the best way to start a conversation with you?

A. Because of my work at the fair, anyone coming up to me and starting a conversation, I’m very accessible. I enjoy interacting with folks.

Q. What prompted you to study law and pursue it professionally?

A. Law school was something that I wanted to do. I didn’t necessarily think practicing was what drove me, but I thought I needed the education. When I worked as a committee administrator for Rep. Mary Murphy, she encouraged me to go to law school.

Q. What books are on your bedside table or e-reader?

A. I enjoy cop and public safety-minded books. I’ve read all of Vince Flynn’s books or any time John Sandford comes out with a new one. Patricia Cornwell is a favorite.

Q. What is a pet peeve of yours?

A. I’m a manager in my office. When two people are doing the same thing, I feel like that’s an inefficient use of time.

Q. What are your favorite aspects of being an attorney?

A. The ability to think creatively and solve problems. Just always thinking there’s another way, to keep pursuing options to achieve your goals.

Q. What’s a favorite activity outside your job?

A. Being a police officer at the State Fair. I enjoy family and time at cabin.

Q. If someone visits you in your hometown, what would you take them to see or do?

A. The State Fair to show them where I work. I would probably show them around the Twin Cities, go on a bike ride or run and show them our beautiful Summit Avenue or the river.

Q. Is there an attorney, judge or others, past or present, whom you admire most?

A. First and foremost is Rep. Mary Murphy. She was my first boss. Some of the basic fundamentals she taught me were treating others respectfully and hearing where other people are coming from.

(The late U.S. Circuit) Judge Gerald Haney. I have a shadow box in my office with a picture from his funeral. I got to know him when I was working for Mary Murphy. He was always interested in helping the city of Duluth advance their needs whether it was (University of Minnesota-Duluth) from an educational standpoint or just economic development. The last time I was in his office he gave me a copy of his book, “Unending Struggle,” his Brown v. Board of Education book. I asked him to sign the book before I left. So I have it pulled out in my shadow box. It says, “To my friend and political advisor, all the best. Judge Heaney.”

Q. What’s a misconception people have about work as a lobbyist?

A. Whenever you say you’re a lobbyist people think that it’s hyper-partisan and financially incentivized business and nothing could be further from the truth. Ninety-five percent of the work that I do in a given legislative session is bipartisan. The other thing is that people think that whether your clients have resources or you’re politically active financially that that has influence over legislators. I have never found that to be the case. Legislators care about the issues and how they impact others.

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