Our Expert Staff

WRA’s team of experts has three decades of working where decisions are made, sweating the details, creating evidence-based solutions, and holding decision makers accountable.

Jessica Gelay

Jessica Gelay

Government Affairs Manager


Government Affairs

Office Location

Denver, Colorado

Area of Focus

Jessica advances innovative legislative and administrative policy solutions to address Colorado’s most pressing conservation challenges. A proactive relationship builder, she liaises with key stakeholders, including elected officials, environmental partners, and other decision makers, to provide sound guidance on how best to safeguard the state’s natural resources through policies that support the transition to clean energy, the health of local ecosystems, and the protection of Western lands.


After decades of advocating on social justice issues in the West, including working to end the war on drugs in New Mexico with the Drug Policy Alliance, Jessica developed a passion for tackling tough societal issues. She gained extensive experience in state-level legislative work in California and New Mexico prior to joining WRA in 2020 as the organization’s first Colorado government affairs manager. It is her love of the outdoors that brought her to this work and motivates her to champion smart policies to combat the ongoing climate crisis.

A native of northern California, Jessica grew up learning about environmental and biological sciences from her aunt, renowned herpetologist Dr. Linda J. Cayot who spent four decades leading tortoise and iguana populations at the Charles Darwin Research Station in the Galapagos. Cayot’s considerable education and deep passion instilled in her a dedication to methodology and evidence-based practice. She also spent countless summers camping with family along the Stanislaus, Feather, and American rivers in California. Experiencing the vibrancy of nature and the feeling of peace and well-being while sleeping on the ground under the stars resonated with her from a young age.


  • Bachelor of Science in Conservation Resource Studies from the University of California, Berkeley
  • Master of Fine Arts from the University of Southern California

Favorite thing about the West

Starry night skies, wildflowers, ground squirrels, and rivers running with fresh snow melt.

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