NCSL Executive Committee Officers Biographies

NCSL's 2013-2014 Officers' Biographical Information

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.

Senator Bruce Starr, Oregon NCSL President
Senator Bruce Starr

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.

Representative Debbie Smith, Nevada

NCSL President-Elect
Senator Debbie Smith

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

Senator Debbie Smith served in the Nevada Assembly for more than 10 years, 2001-2002 and 2004-2011 (first elected November 2000; after lapse in service, subsequently elected November 2004)—eight special and five regular sessions. She was elected to the Senate in 2012; Speaker pro Tempore, 2011; Assistant Majority Whip, 2007-2009.  Her affiliations are Board Member, Nevada Afterschool Network; Board, Education Alliance; Washoe County School District Parent Involvement Council; Consultant, Nevada Parent Teacher Association (PTA); Advisory Board, Northern Nevada Childhood Cancer Foundation; Sparks Chamber of Commerce; Office and Professional Employees International Union Local 29.  Personal and professional achievements include Toll Fellow, 2010; Yale Women’s Campaign School, 2010; Public Education Hall of Fame, 2009; Elected Official of the Year, Disability Advocates; Public Official of the Year, Nevada Association of Social Workers; Legislator of the Year, School Counselor’s Association; Western Legislative Academy, The Council of State Governments–WEST, 2002; Flemming Fellow, Class of 2002; Past President, Nevada PTA; Past Member: Lander County School Board, National PTA Board of Directors, Sparks Charter Commission; Freshman Lawmaker of the Year, Peace Officers Research Association of Nevada, 2001; Life Member, National PTA; Former Chair, Council to Establish Academic Standards.

Debbie was born in Tucson, Arizona and is married with four children.  Her hobbies and special interests include reading, walking and scrapbooking.

Senator Curt Bramble, President Pro Tem, Utah NCSL Vice President
Senator Curtis S. Bramble
President Pro Tem

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, CPA, is a member of the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants and the Utah Association of Certified Public Accountants.  Senator 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; 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 Bachelors and Masters degree in Accounting from Brigham Young University. 

Senator 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 resides 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.

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

NCSL Staff Chair
Thomas W. Wright
Chief of Staff
Office of the Speaker of the House

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.

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

Speaker Terie Norelli, New Hampshire

NCSL Immediate Past President
Speaker Terie Norelli
New Hampshire

Capitol Office
House of Representatives
State House
107 North Main Street
Concord, New Hampshire  03301-4951 
(605) 271-3661

Speaker Terie Norelli is serving her ninth term in the New Hampshire House of Representatives. She is immediate past president of the National Conference of State Legislatures and has served as chair of the NCSL Standing Committees and as co-chair of the working group on NCSL policies and procedures.

Norelli, a Democrat, has represented Rockingham County District 26 in New Hampshire since 1996. In 2006 she was elected speaker, the first Democrat elected in the state in 84 years. When Republicans regained control of the House in 2010, she became minority leader. After the election in 2012 she once again was elected to the role of speaker. She chairs the House Committee on Rules and was chair of the House subcommittee responsible for restructuring the electric industry to help reduce harmful air emissions.

Norelli is committed to women’s advocacy, economic and civil rights, and the environment, which is reflected in the many local and statewide organizations in which she has been involved. In addition, she was a delegate to the Democratic National Convention in 2008 and is featured in two books about women in politics: “Pearls, Politics and Power: How Women Can Win and Lead” and “Women at the Table: 40 Intimate Profiles of Political Women in the Northeast.”

NCSL President Terie Norelli graduated summa cum laude from the University of New Hampshire with a bachelor’s degree in mathematics education and membership in Phi Beta Kappa. She taught high school math before being elected to the New Hampshire House and lives in Portsmouth with her husband.

Patsy Spaw, Secretary of the Senate,Texas

 NCSL Immediate Past Staff Chair
Patsy Spaw
Secretary of the Senate

Capitol Office
Texas State Capitol, Room 2E.22,
1200 Congress Avenue
Austin, Texas 78701
(512) 463-0100

Patsy Spaw is the Secretary of the Senate in the Texas Legislature. As Secretary of the Senate, she is the chief executive administrator of the Senate and is responsible for the operational functions of the Senate. She supervises elected officers and department directors of the Senate and controls and coordinates the operation of the central Senate staff. She was elected secretary in 2001 following more than 30 years of Senate employment, which included more than 20 years as an elected Senate officer.

Spaw was elected as staff vice chair at the 37th annual NCSL Legislative Summit in San Antonio. She has been a member of the American Society of Legislative Clerks and Secretaries since 1977 and served as its president in 2007-2008. She served on NCSL’s Executive Committee from 2008-2011, and was staff vice chair of the Budget, Finance and Rules Subcommittee. An active member of NCSL’s Legislative Staff Coordinating Committee, Patsy chaired the Professional Development Work Group in 2010-2011.

In August 2012, Ms. Spaw became Staff Chair of NCSL and served the 2012-2013 conference year in that position.  Spaw has held many chair and vice chair positions throughout her tenure as an officer of NCSL and in August 2013 became Immediate Past Staff Chair and Secretary=Treasurer of the NCSL Foundation for State Legislatures.

Spaw received her bachelor of liberal arts from Saint Edward's University in Austin, Texas, and her juris doctorate from The University of Texas School of Law in Austin.  Patsy has spent a lifetime of service supporting the legislative process and improving the effectiveness of the legislative institution.  She is a native of Texas and is married to Steve Spaw.

Updated August 20, 2013
Edited January 17, 2013
Edited December 18, 2013

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