Dave Cooley, TN 82, Selected as 2019 Staats Award Winner and Steve Simon, MN 90, Selected as 2019 Stevens Award Winner

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The Truman Foundation will present the 2019 Staats Award to 1982 Tennessee Scholar, Dave Cooley, and the 2019 Stevens Award to 1990 Minnesota Scholar, Steve Simon, in a ceremony at the Harry S. Truman Presidential Library in Independence, Missouri during Truman Scholars Leadership Week in May, 2019.


Dave Cooley

Dave Cooley, a 1982 Truman Scholar, has more than 25 years in public service and public affairs. Mr. Cooley served as Tennessee Governor-elect Phil Bredesen’s Director of Transition and later Deputy to the Governor for Governor Bredesen from 2003 to 2007. As Deputy Governor, Mr. Cooley served as lead strategist for the administration’s agenda on public policy issues ranging from health care and energy initiatives to homeland security improvements and education reforms. Prior to that, Mr. Cooley served as Chief of Staff to the mayor of Metro Nashville during a surge of economic development and growth that continues today. Mr. Cooley’s first venture into public service was in the role of Chief of Staff to the Chairman of the Tennessee Public Service Commission.

A native of Rockwood, Tenn., Mr. Cooley is a Principal at Cooley Public Strategies based in Nashville, Tenn. He holds a bachelor’s degree from the Tennessee Technological University and a master’s degree from the University of West Florida. He serves as the Chair of the Nashville Regional Truman Scholarship Selection Committee, where he has served since 1993. He serves on the boards of the Tennessee Tech Foundation, the Music City Bowl, the Nashville Sports Council and the Metro Gender Equity Council.



Steve Simon

Steve Simon is Minnesota’s 22nd Secretary of State. He was sworn into office on January 5, 2015, and as Minnesota’s chief elections administrator pledged in his inaugural address to “work with anyone, of any political affiliation, from any part of our state” to protect, defend, and strengthen the right to vote in Minnesota.

As Secretary of State, he partners with township, city, and county officials to organize elections on behalf of Minnesota’s nearly four million eligible voters, and to ensure that the election system is fair.

Simon also oversees a wide range of services for Minnesota businesses and administers the “Safe at Home” address confidentiality program for people whose personal safety is at risk, often due to physical abuse or threats.

His goals as Minnesota’s Secretary of State are straightforward: expand access to voting, remove barriers to voting, make business services as streamlined as possible, strengthen protections for victims of domestic violence and, most importantly, be a Secretary of State for all Minnesotans.

Before being elected Minnesota’s Secretary of State, Simon served in the Minnesota House of Representatives for ten years representing the communities of St. Louis Park and Hopkins.

Simon spent much of his time in the state legislature immersed in elections issues, including serving as the chair of the House Elections Committee in 2013 and 2014. He played a lead role in many of the election reforms that Minnesota has embraced over the last several years, including no-excuse absentee voting, online voter registration, and easier access to voting for Minnesotans overseas, including those in the military.

Simon also served as Assistant Attorney General of Minnesota and worked as a lawyer in private practice for several years. He was named a “Rising Star” four different times by Law & Politics magazine and has received many other recognitions for his work on behalf of Minnesotans, including the “Outstanding Legislator Award” from the Minnesota School Board Association and the “Civic Leadership Award” from the Citizens League.

Simon grew up in St. Louis Park and Hopkins. He graduated with a B.A in Political Science from Tufts University in Massachusetts in 1992, and earned a J.D. from the University of Minnesota Law School in 1996. Simon and his wife Leia live in Hopkins with their two children, Hannah and Noah, and  rescue dog, Hugo.