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NCSL Executive Committee Officers Biographies

NCSL Executive Committee: Officers' Biographical Information

8/25/2014

Legislators and legislative staffers govern the National Conference of State Legislatures. NCSL members elect from among themselves a 60-person Executive Committee. Seven officers on this committee direct the overall work of the conference. Officers serve one-year terms that begin at each annual Legislative Summit. They are elected at the vice president, or staff vice chair level and annually ascend to the next post. Executive Committee Home Page.

 

Representative Debbie Smith, Nevada

NCSL President
Senator Debbie Smith
Nevada

 

Capitol Office
101 North Carson Street
Carson City, Nevada
(775) 233-2905

Senator Debbie Smith was elected to the Nevada Assembly in 2000 where she rounded out her service as chairman of the Ways and Means Committee and speaker pro tempore. She was elected to the Nevada Senate in 2012 and, in her first term, serves as the assistant majority leader and chairman of the Senate Finance Committee. She assumed the presidency of NCSL in 2014 after a decade of NCSL involvement on various committees.
  
A few of her priorities have been budget transparency and accountability, protecting education and human services budgets and economic development. She continues to work on education policy, particularly in the area of family engagement, and has a long history of working on wildlife and conservation issues. 
 
She has been involved in a wide range of organizations, including the Nevada and National Parent Teacher Associations, the Northern Nevada Childhood Cancer Foundation, the Reno Sparks Chamber of Commerce, Nevada Afterschool Network and the Education Alliance.
  
Her personal and professional achievements include Public Education Hall of Fame; Elected Official of the Year, 2010 Toll Fellow; Yale Women’s Campaign School, Disability Advocates; Public Official of the Year, Nevada Association of Social Workers; Legislator of the Year, School Counselor’s Association; Western Legislative Academy; The CSG West; Flemming Fellow; past president of the Nevada PTA; and more.

 

She is a native of Tucson, Ariz., and lives in Sparks, Nev., with her husband Greg Smith. They have three children and two granddaughters. 

Senator Curt Bramble, Utah NCSL President-Elect
Senator Curtis S. Bramble
Utah
 

Capitol Office
320 State Capitol
Post Office Box 145115
Salt Lake City, Utah 84114
(801) 538-1035

Curtis S. Bramble was elected to the Utah State Senate in November 2000.  Bramble is in his fourth term in the Utah Senate, where he previously served as Senate majority leader and currently serves as Senate president pro tempore.

Bramble, a CPA, is a member of the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants and the Utah Association of Certified Public Accountants. Bramble was elected as vice president of the National Conference of State Legislatures in August 2013.  He served as co-chair of the NCSL Standing Committees 2012-2013. He is a member of the State and Local Taxation Task Force, a member of the Immigration and the States Task Force, and the International Affairs Task Force. He has participated in forums addressing issues like education, transportation, energy, and taxation.

Bramble began his college career at the University of Notre Dame, and earned his bachelor's and masters degree in accounting from Brigham Young University. 

Bramble is a fixed wing and hot air balloon pilot and owns Stars & Stripes Inc., a hot air balloon company, with former Utah House Majority Leader Jeff Alexander. He and his family live in Provo and are actively involved in motorcycle touring, mountain climbing, scouting, antique automobiles, skydiving, skiing, backpacking, fishing, hunting, scuba diving, and boating at Lake Powell.

He is married to Susan Mackay of Provo, and they are the parents of six children and four wonderful granddaughters and three grandsons.

Senator Mike Gronstal, Iowa NCSL Vice President
Senator Mike Gronstal
Iowa
 
Capitol Office
1007 East Grand Avenue
Des Moines, Iowa 50319
(515) 281-4610

Senator Mike Gronstal has represented the Council Bluffs and Carter Lake region in western Iowa for more than 30 years, two in the House and 31 in the Senate. He has served as Senate president, minority leader, majority whip and assistant majority leader, and, during the Senate’s historic tie in 2005-2006, he was elected to serve as co-leader.  Currently, he is the Senate majority leader and chairman of the Rules & Administration Committee and Legislative Council. Gronstal believes that governing should be a bipartisan effort, and this was reflected in what many called an impressive, even landmark, session last year with a noticeable lack of gridlock.

 

Gronstal has been a social worker, shipping clerk and stay-at-home dad, and during his years in office, he has focused on creating better jobs, improving education, and making health care available for all Iowans. His priorities include addressing Iowa’s shortage of skilled workers, improving teacher pay and making community college even more affordable.  Additionally, Gronstal has been recognized by his colleagues for his dedicated work and knowledge of complex issues in the insurance and utilities industries.

 

Gronstal is a graduate of Antioch College in Ohio, a third generation Council Bluffs resident, a husband to Connie and a father to two grown daughters. He is 64 years old. 

Senator Bruce Starr, Oregon NCSL Immediate Past President
Senator Bruce Starr
Oregon

Capitol Office
900 Court Street NE, S-411
Salem, Oregon, 97301
(503) 986-1715
 

Senator Bruce Starr is in his third term representing Oregon’s 15th Senate district. He has been actively involved in NCSL for more than a decade, including service on NCSL’s 60-member Executive Committee. He has held numerous NCSL positions, starting with the Elections Reform Task Force formed in the wake of the 2000 Bush/Gore presidential election. He chaired the NCSL Transportation Committee and the Working Group on the Federal Surface Transportation Act Reauthorization. He also served on NCSL’s Executive Committee's Working Group on Committee Structure and Policy Development Process; the Public Private Partnerships Transportation Working Group; and the Deficit Reduction Task Force.

 

Starr lives in Hillsboro, Ore., with his wife and their two children.

Margaret “Peggy” Piety, Staff Attorney, Legislative Services Agency, Indiana

NCSL Staff Chair
Margaret 'Peggy' Piety
Senior Staff Attorney
Legislative Services Agency

Indiana
 

Capitol Office
Legislative Services Agency
Office of Bill Drafting and Research
Indiana General Assembly
200 West Washington Street, Suite 301
Indianapolis, Indiana 46204
(317) 233-9604

Margaret 'Peggy' Piety has served as a fulltime staff attorney for the Office of Bill Drafting and Research of the Indiana Legislative Services Agency since September 2000.  Her duties include providing, on a nonpartisan basis, bill drafting and legal research to all members of the Indiana General Assembly in the areas of labor and employment law, public pensions, and elections. She also staffs standing committees during the legislative session and legislative study committees during the interim, and performs editorial tasks related to the preparation of session acts and updates to the Indiana Code after each session. Other work experience has included employment as an attorney for the City of Indianapolis and in private practice.

Piety has participated in NCSL from 2002 to the present. Her participation includes services as a legislative staff officer of NCSL's standing committees; an officer of the Legal Services Staff Section (LSSS); a member of the Legislative Staff Coordinating Committee (LSCC); and an at-large member of the NCSL Executive Committee.

Piety received B.A. and J.D. degrees from Indiana University, and is a member of Phi Beta Kappa.

Karl Aro, Maryland

NCSL Staff Vice Chair
Karl Aro
Executive Director
Department of Legislative Services
Maryland

 

Capitol Office
Executive Director
Department of Legislative Services
Maryland General Assembly
90 State Circle
Annapolis, Maryland 21401-1911
(301) 970-5200

 

In September 1997, Karl Aro was named Executive Director of the then newly created Department of Legislative Services (DLS) that was formed by consolidating three former staff agencies. He first joined the legislative staff in 1979 as a bill drafter and research analyst, eventually serving as the Deputy Director and Director of the Research Division in one of the predecessor agencies to DLS.  His special area of expertise is redistricting and reapportionment, for which he was lead legislative staff in 1981-82, 1991-92, 2001-02 and for which he assumed a similar role in 2011-12.

 

In conjunction with the National Conference of State Legislatures and the International Republican Institute, Karl has traveled to Indonesia and Jordan to participate in and conduct training seminars for public sector stake holders and parliamentary staff.  He has also worked with the National Democratic Institute to provide training seminars in Annapolis for visiting parliamentarians and parliamentary staff from several nations.

 

Prior to joining the legislature, Karl worked for Prince George’s County government and for the American Public Health Association.  He holds a B.A. in government and politics from Monmouth University in New Jersey and an M.A. in government with a concentration in public administration from the University of Maryland College Park.  He also has completed doctoral course work in policy sciences at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County.

 

Karl is a 1993 graduate of the National Conference of State Legislature’s (NCSL) Legislative Staff Management Institute and has been an active member of Research and Committee Staff Section, serving as vice-chair for 1997-98, chair for 1998-99, and as chair of the Planning Committee for the 1997 Professional Development Seminar for the Senior Research Staff.  He served on the Legislative Staff Coordinating Committee (LSCC) and has been the chair and vice-chair of its Task Force on Staff Development, as well as the chair of the Task Force on Legislative Staff Management.  Karl currently is a member of the NCSL Executive Committee and previously served as a member of that committee from 2000 to 2003.  He also served as staff chair of the Legislative Effectiveness Committee (2002-2003) and as vice staff chair (2004-2005) and staff chair (2005-2006) of the Redistricting and Elections Committee.  

Thomas W. Wright, Chief of Staff, Office of the Speaker, Alaska

NCSL Immediate Past Staff Chair
Thomas W. Wright
Alaska

 

Capitol Office
716 W. 4th Avenue, Suite 600
Anchorage, Alaska  99501
(907) 269-2030

Tom Wright’s career spans 25 years with the Alaska State House. He served as chief of staff to three different speakers, currently to Speaker Mike Chenault. Wright’s responsibilities include working with all House and Senate members and the administration on legislation and strategy;  briefing staff on caucus matters; establishing legislative session priorities and committee management; coordinating end-of-session strategy between the House, Senate and administration; coaching other legislative staff in leadership and legislative management skills; and handling the Speaker’s personal legislation and other district and state matters.

 

Wright was elected staff vice-chair at the 38th Annual NCSL Legislative Summit in Chicago. He succeeded to the office of NCSL staff chair at the 2013 Annual NCSL Legislative Summit in Atlanta. An active member of NCSL since 2006, he served on the Leadership Staff Section as vice-chair (2007-2008), chair (2008-2009) and immediate past chair (2009-2010). He was a member of the Legislative Staff Coordinating Committee from 2007-2012 and was an executive committee member from 2010-2012.

Wright earned his bachelor of communication arts degree from Michigan State University. He has lived in Alaska for 35 years where he is also a commercial salmon fisherman in the summer.


Edited Sept. 5, 2014
Edited  Sept. 2, 2014

Updated Aug. 25, 2014
Edited Aug. 20, 2013
Edited Jan. 17, 2013
Edited Dec. 18, 2013

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