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RACSS Legislative Staff Achievement Award Honorees

Legislative Staff Achievement Awards - RACSS Honorees 1997 - 2013

The Legislative Staff Achievement Award is presented annually to honor legislative staff who have exemplified excellence in their legislative careers and made an outstanding contribution to the Research and Committee Staff Section.

History: Beginning in 1997, each of the NCSL staff sections were given the opportunity to recognize among their membership two legislative staff or agencies who have made outstanding contributions to their legislatures and to the staff section. The award was established through the Legislative Staff Coordinating Committee as a means of recognizing excellence in service to state legislatures. In addition to the staff section honorees, the NCSL Staff Chair may select up to two additional award recipients. For more information, visit the RACSS Award page.

Below is a list of RACSS recipients of the Legislative Staff Achievement Award. Click on the year for more detailed information about each of the recipients.

RACSS Recipients

2013
Mark Mitchell, Kentucky

2012
John Q. Cannon, Utah

2011
Pepper Sturm, Nevada

2010
David Ortbahn, South Dakota

2009
Guy Cherry, Maryland
Patrick O'Grady, Illinois

2008
Jamie Jo Franklin, Kentucky
Terry Sullivan, North Carolina

2007
Michael Nugent, Idaho
Daniel Chapman, Colorado

2006
Mary Janicki, Connecticut
Office of Legislative Research and General Counsel, Utah, Citizens Guide Project

2005
Sheila Mason, Kentucky
Electronic Bill Book Project, Washington House Research Staff

2004
Virgil F. Puskarich, Pennsylvania
David L. Sallach, New Jersey

2003
Bryant Howe, Utah
Kirk Mlinek, Colorado

2002
Robert Erickson, Nevada
Terry Anderson, Wisconsin

2001
Richard V. Strong, Utah
Karl Aro, Maryland

2000
Darrell Jackson, Missouri
Sandy Deaton, Kentucky

1999
Diane Bolender, Iowa
David Hite, Colorado

1998
Larry Barish, Wisconsin
Allan Green, Connecticut

1997
Joyce Honaker, Kentucky
Carvel Payne, Maryland
 

2013 Awards

Mark Mitchell
Committee Staff Administrator, Kentucky Legislative Research Commission

Mark Mitchell has been a member and officer of the Research and Committee Staff Section for many years.  During this time, Mark as been an outstanding leader for the section and guided us well with his calm deliberative style, insuring that all ideas are considered and the best is achieved for all his colleagues across the country.  Mark is a consensus-builder, yet one willing to make a decision when one is needed.  He also has always had a forward thinking vision for RACSS, encouraging us to consider not only our immediate problems but how we should move forward into the future.

This year Mark will be completing eight years of service on the RACSS Executive Committee, the length of which is rarely matched.  Mark served two terms of two-years on the Executive Committee, and then served two years as Vice Chair, one year as Chair, and one year as Past Chair.  In those roles, Mark has been an active contributor to RACSS, often a volunteer to take on needed projects, and an active leader for the section for an extra year.  He has been instrumental in planning RACSS programs, seminars and webinars.  He has also frequently served as both moderator and speaker for RACSS sessions. Mark has served RACSS and NCSL above and beyond what would be normally expected.

Mark has been with the Kentucky Legislative Services Office for over 23 years, and is currently serving as the Committee Staff Administrator for the Local Government Committee. In his time with the Kentucky legislature, he has worked extensively in the areas of local government.  His legislative colleagues in Kentucky unanimously sing Mark's praises as an outstanding legislative staffer, an expert in his field with a keen political sense, and most importantly, as a supportive and encouraging colleague.

Through his outstanding contributions to the Kentucky legislature and RACSS, Mark has demonstrated exceptional professionalism, competence and integrity.  He has worked hard to improve the effectiveness of the Kentucky legislature and he has contributed untiringly and unselfishly to the Research and Committee Staff Section of the National Conference of State Legislatures.  He is a true gentleman and a valued friend.  It is with great pleasure that RACSS honors Mark Mitchell of Kentucky with the 2013 RACSS Legislative Staff Achievement Award.

2012 Awards

John Q. Cannon
Managing Policy Analyst, Office of Legislative Research and General Counsel, Utah

John serves as the Managing Policy Analyst in the Utah Legislature’s Office of Legislative Research and General Counsel. In this position, John manages the 11 Policy Analysts employed by the office, as well as several interns, and works with the Director and other managers to guide the overall direction of the office.

John joined the office in 1992 after graduating from Brigham Young University with a Master of Public Administration degree. His committee staffing assignments have primarily been in the areas of local government, state government operations, election laws, rules, and redistricting. During the 2011 redistricting effort, John guided a large staff of map drawers, attorneys, and others who helped the legislature draw boundaries for legislative, congressional, and school board districts, and oversaw the implementation of an on-line citizen’s map-making program that allowed for greater citizen participation in the redistricting process.

John also serves as staff to the House Rules Committee. As the gatekeeper for all bills, the Rules Committee is the hub for hundreds of bills going to and from standing committees and to the floor.  John deftly navigates both technical challenges in keeping track of hundreds of bills and the challenges of daily working in a politically charged environment.  He is considered the “go to” guy for all questions relating to legislative rules and processes.

John possesses a unique array of superior technical skills combined with a first-rate political acumen and an unassuming and down-to-earth demeanor. (Not to mention his great sense of humor and compassion towards others.) As he is now ending his service with the office to pursue other opportunities, he leaves behind a legacy of quiet, competent service to the Utah Legislature.

John is a long-term and active member of the Research and Committee Staff Section and it is with great affection and appreciation for his service that RACSS presents him with the 2012 Legislative Staff Achievement Award.

2011 Awards

H. Pepper Sturm
Chief Deputy Research Director, Research Division, Legislative Counsel Bureau, Nevada

Pepper Sturm is the Chief Deputy Research Director of the Research Division of Nevada's Legislative Counsel Bureau. He has worked for the Nevada Legislature for more than 20 years, beginning as a policy analyst in 1987, and has dedicated his career to public service.

Pepper has been the chair of the Research and Committee Staff Section for the last two years and has served on the RACSS Executive Committee since 2005. He has been a leader in planning the agendas and programs for RACSS fall seminars and annual meetings and frequently serves as a speaker and moderator for RACSS programs. His guidance in directing the staff section through difficult economic times has insured stability, steadfastness and continuity of leadership for RACSS members.

Pepper’s commitment to providing professional development opportunities for RACSS members led to regular sponsorship of webinars during the years the staff section was unable to hold an annual professional development seminar. Under Pepper’s leadership, RACSS was the first of the staff sections to utilize grants from the LSCC to provide online training for legislative staff.

Pepper has been a stalwart in supporting the work of NCSL. In addition to his work with RACSS, Pepper has served as chair of the Legislative Education Staff Network (LESN), and as staff chair of the NCSL Education Committee for 1998. Pepper’s work on education issues is nationally recognized and his willingness to share his expertise earned him Legislative Staff Achievement Award in 2001 from LESN. Pepper has also shared his expertise with colleagues in other nations, serving as a trainer on international projects to provide assistance to research and policy staff in developing nations.

Pepper’s values of generosity, inclusion, professionalism and courtesy have been demonstrated in his work for RACSS, the Legislative Counsel Bureau, and the Nevada Legislature. It is with the deepest affection and appreciation that RACSS honors Pepper Sturm with the 2011 Legislative Staff Achievement Award.

2010 Awards

David Ortbahn
Principal Research Analyst, Legislative Research Council, South Dakota

David Ortbahn has dedicated his professional life to serving the South Dakota Legislature in a career that has spanned thirty years. David currently serves as a Principal Research Analyst for the Legislative Research Council, and his thorough and competent staff work has been a major benefit to the South Dakota legislative branch.

David is the staff person to whom people go when they want the job done right. His exactness for detail and steadied contemplative manner has been sought by many committee chairs. For many years, David has served as the professional staff to the State Affairs committees of both chambers. These major committees, comprised of all legislative leaders, have relied on David for superb professional guidance and assistance.

For decades, David has coordinated and supervised the college intern program for the South Dakota Legislature. This is no easy feat considering that the closest college campus to the capitol is more than two hours away. David has guided the recruitment and selection of the interns, as well as the educational experience they receive while in the capitol. His work and example have helped young people at the beginning of their careers realize the value of public service.

David has also generously shared his time and expertise with colleagues from other states, through both the Council of State Governments and the National Conference of State Legislatures. As an officer for the Research and Committee Staff Section, Dave helped plan and present numerous professional development programs. He was a director on the RACSS Executive Committee for two terms and also served as a Regional Coordinator for the RACSS Newsletter for more than five years. Because of his leadership and diligence, Dave’s region consistently shared the most legislative news with colleagues across the nation.

David’s contributions to RACSS and his more than 30 years of distinguished and notable service to the South Dakota Legislature make him truly deserving of recognition. It with great pride and affection that RACSS presents the 2010 Legislative Staff Achievement Award to David Ortbahn.

2009 Awards

Guy Cherry
Senior Policy Analyst, Office of Policy Analysis, Department of Legislative Services, Maryland

Guy Cherry has been a dedicated staff member for the Maryland General Assembly for 21 legislative sessions. He is a Senior Policy Specialist in the Office of Policy Analysis, Department of Legislative Services, and is an expert on criminal justice and public safety.

Guy has been active in RACSS and NCSL’s standing committees for many years. He has been staff chair of the NCSL Standing Committees on Law and Criminal Justice, lending his expertise on criminal justice matters to NCSL, as well as to legislators and staff in other states. In addition, he served for several years as an officer of the overall Steering Committee of the NCSL Standing Committees, including a year as Staff Chair. As Staff Chair of the Standing Committees, he was also an ex-officio member of the NCSL Executive Committee.

Guy’s career has been marked by dedication, commitment, and integrity. He has been praised by managers, colleagues, and legislators for his spirit of cooperation, knowledge of his issues and willingness to share his expertise with others. It is with pride and pleasure we honor Guy Cherry with the 2009 Legislative Staff Achievement Award.

Patrick O'Grady
Executive Director, Legislative Research Unit, Illinois General Assembly

Patrick O’Grady has served the Illinois General Assembly with distinction for more than 25 years. The unit he directs is the central nonpartisan general research agency for the General Assembly. It produces more than 500 research reports a year, along with reference publications such as the Tax Handbook, Constituent Services Directory, annotated Illinois Constitution and many others.

Pat has been a mainstay of the Research and Committee Staff Section for many years. He served several terms on the RACSS Executive Committee and as RACSS Chair for 2007-2008. Pat has planned numerous seminars and programs for RACSS members, served as faculty and host for meetings, and served on committees and advisory groups. His advice, counsel and energy have been invaluable in creating professional development opportunities for legislative research and committee staff.

Pat displays a noteworthy, commendable commitment to the mission and purpose of all legislative staff, facilitating the legislative process, and promoting and strengthening promote and strengthen legislative staff's capacity to fulfill their professional responsibilities. With enthusiasm, admiration and affection, we honor Pat O’Grady with the 2009 Legislative Staff Achievement Award.

2008 Awards

Jamie Jo Franklin
Chief of Staff, House Majority Caucus, Kentucky

Jamie Jo Franklin has spent her entire professional career in service to the citizens of Kentucky.  She started as a city manager and then worked as a legislative liaison and policy analyst for an executive branch agency before joining the Legislative Research Commission as an analyst in 1981. She served as committee staff administrator for the Local Government Committee from 1986 to 2007, when she was became chief of staff for the House Majority Caucus.

Jamie has been active in NCSL and RACSS for many years.  She has been a stalwart for the staff section, serving on the RACSS Executive Committee from 2002 to 2007 and as RACSS Chair for 2005-2006.  Jamie helped plan staff section programs and served both as a speaker and moderator for numerous RACSS sessions.  The energy and vision she brought to her leadership of RACSS resulted in better professional development opportunities for legislative staff in all states and territories

Jamie currently serves on the NCSL Executive Committee and has been a staunch advocate for expanded legislative staff services from NCSL.  In recognition of her public service, Jamie was chosen as a Toll Fellow Leadership class by CSG in 2000 and is a 2002 graduate of the Legislative Staff Management Institute.

RACSS takes great pleasure in honoring Jamie Franklin with the Legislative Staff Achievement Award in recognition of her steadfast support, counsel and friendship.

Terry Sullivan
Director (retired), Division of Research, North Carolina

Terry Sullivan is the recently retired director of research for the North Carolina General Assembly.  He was instrumental in establishing and enhancing legislative research services for the General Assembly.  When he started in 1972, fresh out of law school, Terry was one of a two-person research office.  He became director of research in 1979 and served in that capacity until he retired in 2008.  By then, the office had grown to include 45 staff, 30 of them legislative attorneys and policy analysts.

Terry's lifelong public service and evenhanded approach have earned him the respect of members of both parties, as well as his legislative staff colleagues.  With modesty, fairness and a commitment to nonpartisanship, Terry served the General Assembly and the people of North Carolina with distinction.  As a mark of the esteem in which he is held in the state, he was named "Tar Heel of the Week" by the Raleigh News and Observer upon his retirement.

Terry's involvement in NCSL included service on the standing committees and as RACSS officer, serving as a member of the executive committee, program planner and newsletter coordinator.  He participated in numerous RACSS programs and supported the involvement of his staff in RACSS' professional development opportunities.

It is with great pleasure that RACSS honors Terry Sullivan, a gentleman, a scholar, and a friend, with the Legislative Staff Achievement Award.

2007 Awards

Michael Nugent
Division Manager, Research and Legislation Division, Legislative Services Office, Idaho

Mike Nugent is a dedicated public servant who has spent his entire professional career in service to the Idaho Legislature. He embodies the qualities of the classic life-time staffer, who honors, respects and supports the legislative institution.

Mike began his career with the legislature in 1977 and now serves as the division manager of the Research and Legislation Division of the Idaho Legislative Services Office, where he oversees core functions for the legislature. His staff conduct research, draft legislation, staff legislative study committees, review administrative agency rules, and provide information on the legislative process and legislative history to the public and other state agencies.

Mike has been generous in sharing his expertise and experience with other legislative staff. He served as a member of the RACSS Executive Committee from 1999 to 2005 and was RACSS chair for 2003-2004. Mike planned and served as faculty for many RACSS programs and fall seminars and supported the participation of his staff in professional development opportunities. Mike has contributed many hours in support of NCSL, hosting meetings, serving as faculty, and participating in NCSL committees, staff sections and task forces. He is a graduate of the Legislative Staff Management Institute, a member of LSMI’s first class in 1990.

Daniel Chapman
Assistant Director for Administration, Legislative Council, Colorado


Dan Chapman has spent his career contributing to the work of the Colorado General Assembly. He embodies the dedication, service orientation, professionalism, competence and integrity envisioned when the legislative staff achievement award was created.

A member of the staff since 1978, Dan serves as assistant director for administration for the Colorado Legislative Council. Dan is responsible for coordinating the preparation of the General Assembly’s annual budget and oversees the joint legislative library, the centralized accounting unit, tour guide operation, information technology services, and the legislative print shop. He also chairs the new member orientation program, an interagency effort in place since the late 1990s, and staffs the State Capitol Building Advisory Committee.

Dan has been a stalwart when it comes to supporting NCSL and has been a strong voice in the office about the importance of staff training and development. He routinely supports staff participation in the Legislative Staff Management Institute and professional development seminars offered by NCSL. He has served as faculty for the RACSS skills development seminars and staffed the Colorado Host State Committee in preparation for NCSL’s 2002 Annual Meeting in Denver.

2006 Awards

Mary Janicki
Director, Office of Legislative Research, Connecticut

The Research and Committee Staff Section is pleased to honor Mary Janicki, Director of the Connecticut Office of Legislative Research as a recipient of the 2006 Legislative Staff Achievement Award in recognition of her exceptional service to the Connecticut General Assembly and her commitment to improving the quality of professional development for legislative staff through her work with RACSS and NCSL.

Mary's career with the Connecticut General Assembly exemplifies a life of public service.  She has worked for the legislature since 1982, and has served as Director of the Office of Legislative Research since 2003.  Her service to the Connecticut General Assembly has earned her the respect of both members and colleagues.  As director, Mary has continually sought to improve and expand the services provided to Connecticut legislators by the Office of Legislative Research.  She supports the professional development of her staff and leads by example through her dedicated public service.

Mary has tirelessly supported the work of RACSS and NCSL through her activities with staff sections, standing committees and the Legislative Staff Coordinating Committee.  She is the Immediate Past Chair of RACSS and has been an officer and active member of the staff section for many years.  Mary is a graduate of the Legislative Staff Management Institute, class of 1993.  She has demonstrated her commitment to professional development for legislative staff by helping to plan and present numerous RACSS programs and seminars.

Citizens Guide Project Team
Office of Legislative Research and General Counsel, Utah

Citizens Guide Project Team Members:  Brian Allred, Susan Creager Allred, Mark Andrews, Emily Brown, Spencer Burton, Arek Butler, Esther Chelsea-McCarthy,  Ben Christensen, Phil Dean, Cathy Dupont, John Fellows, Shannon Halverson, Brett Hopper, Bryant Howe, Jerry Howe, Art Hunsaker, Dee Larsen, Jeanenne Larson, Jami Momberger, Rich North, Nina Norton, Patricia Owen, Robert Rees, Rebecca Rockwell, Stewart Smith, Connie Steffen, Mark Steinagel, Joseph Wade, Eric Weeks, and James Wilson.

This award recognizes the staff of the Utah Office of Legislative Research and General Counsel for their collaborative effort in producing and publishing "A Citizen's Guide to Utah State Government".  This ambitious undertaking was successfully completed as a result of much hard work and cooperation by the staff attorneys and analysts of the Office of Legislative Research and General Counsel.  Their effort to provide the citizens of Utah with a comprehensive resource for understanding the work and workings of government has been received with overwhelming enthusiasm by legislators, teachers, and university professors.

The Citizen's Guide is the latest accomplishment by an office which has consistently been one of the most innovative and effective legislative support agencies dedicated to supporting the Legislature and the legislative institution.  RACSS is pleased to present this well-deserved recognition.

The Citizen's Guide to Utah State Government was edited by Michael Christensen (Editor in Chief), Mary Catherine Perry, M. Gay Taylor, John Q. Cannon, and Cassandra N. Bauman (Copy Editor).

2005 Awards

Sheila Mason
Research Coordinator, Legislative Research Commission, Kentucky

Sheila has served for twenty-five years as a staff member of the Legislative Research Commission.  She worked first as a performance auditor and program analyst and then as the Committee Staff Administrator for the Legislative Program Review and Investigations Committee, responsible for oversight of the work of staff teams performing audits, evaluations, research studies and policy analyses for the Committee.  In 2003 Sheila was named Research Coordinator for the Legislative Research Commission.

Sheila has been a dedicated and active member of the Research and Committee Staff Section, serving on numerous committees, subcommittees and task forces.  As a member of the Professional Development Task Force, Sheila helped plan professional development seminars and Annual Meeting sessions.  In addition, she willingly served as a presenter for numerous RACSS programs and as a member of the faculty team for the research track for the Skills Development Seminar.

Sheila has been a stalwart for the staff section, lending her counsel, energy and advice to numerous projects and activities.  She has willingly shared her knowledge and expertise and helped to improve professional development opportunities for RACSS members throughout the country.  Sheila embodies the excellent skills, exceptional judgment and dedicated professionalism of a true public servant.

Staff Team for the Washington Electronic Bill Book Project
House of Representatives Office of Program Research and the Legislative Service Center, Washington

Research Team Members: Charlie Gavigan, Dave Knutson, Bob Longman, and Cara Shipley.  Award made jointly by RACSS and NALIT.

This joint award honors a team of the Washington House of Representatives’ committee and legislative information technology staff, who developed an innovative project called the "Electronic Bill Book” or EBB.

The EBB has revolutionized the way in which the House of Representatives' standing committees conduct their public hearings.  The EBB has reduced the labor-intensive work required to prepare pre-meeting informational packets and maintain paper bill books for committee hearings.  Committee members and staff can gain access to the "bill book" documents and display them during the hearing in electronic format.  In addition, the EBB has simplified the administration of complex committee hearings and has made it easier for committee members to navigate through lengthy agendas.  This important project is a great example of team work between the committee and the information technology staff to provide a new and more efficient way of conducting committee business.

The Electronic Bill Book project team members are: Oscar Churchill, Charlie Gavigan, Laura Graham, Dave Knutson, Bob Longman, Sharon Maguire, Nate Naismith, Kyle Overmiller and Cara Shipley.

2004 Awards

Virgil F. Puskarich (1941 - 2004)
Executive Director, Local Government Commission, Pennsylvania General Assembly

With profound sadness but great admiration, respect and affection, the Research and Committee Staff Section honors the late Virgil F. Puskarich with the 2004 Legislative Staff Achievement Award.  Virgil devoted his entire professional career to supporting the work of state and local government.  His untimely passing in January 2004 took from us a dedicated public servant whose wise counsel was sought by colleagues, public officials and their staff for many years.

Virgil served over 30 years as the Executive Director of the Pennsylvania General Assembly Local Government Commission where he was an invaluable source of knowledge, inspiration and encouragement to state and local elected officials.  He gave willingly and generously of his time and knowledge, drawing upon a lifetime of experience gained as a high school teacher, college professor and long time mayor.  Virgil was also an active and valued member of the National Conference of State Legislatures and the Research and Committee Staff Section.  In addition to serving on numerous panels, Virgil was an unfailingly friendly and helpful mentor to his colleagues across the nation.

Virgil Puskarich exemplified the highest standard of service, competence and commitment.  For those of us who were fortunate to work with him, Virgil Puskarich’s accomplishments and dedication will inspire and guide us in the future.

David L. Sallach
Section Chief, Law and Public Safety Section, Office of Legislative Services , New Jersey Legislature

Dave Sallach has served the New Jersey Legislature as a staff member of the Office of Legislative Services for more than 27 years as a researcher, bill drafter and committee aide.  As Section Chief of the Law and Public Safety Section, Dave is responsible for the development and performance of the Section’s professional staff, as well as its day-to-day operations.

Dave’s deep allegiance to the legislative institution and his drive to provide the very best in staff services to the New Jersey Legislature are also demonstrated by his involvement with NCSL.  He served two terms as chair of the Research and Committee Staff Section and served on the RACSS Executive Committee from 1998 to 2004.  His terms were distinguished by his commitment to expanding the involvement of legislative staff in RACSS professional development activities, establishing both the RACSS Professional Development Task Force and the RACSS International Task Force.  His inspiration for the International Task Force no doubt arose from his experience as a delegate for research staff to Hong Kong, representing RACSS in the “Hong Kong Dialogues: A Legislative Staff Exchange Program” in conjunction with NCSL’s International Program.

Dave has provided outstanding support of RACSS and NCSL activities, serving on the RACSS Nominating Committee, Awards Committee, Professional Development Task Force, International Task Force, Fall Seminar Planning Committee, NCSL Nominating Committee, Legislative Staff Coordinating Committee, LSCC Professional Development Task Force and the LSCC Staff Management Task Force.  In 2003, Dave was presented with a special award honoring his dedication to the activities of the staff section and in recognition of his two terms of office as RACSS Chair.

2003 Awards

Bryant Howe
Research Analyst, Office of Legislative Research and General Counsel, Utah

The Research and Committee Staff Section recognizes Bryant Howe for his outstanding career as a legislative staff member for the Utah Office of Legislative Research and General Counsel and for his contributions to RACSS and NCSL in sharing his experience with junior legislative staff in other states through his work with the Skills Development Seminar.

Bryant Howe is a Research Analyst with the Utah Legislature's Office of Legislative Research and General Counsel. He has spent his entire professional career in public service to the Utah Legislature, serving for more than twenty years as staff to legislative committees for both the House and Senate, where his expertise has been recognized, particularly in the areas of education and taxation. He also serves as coordinator of the legislature's new legislator orientation training and as manager of the legislature's intern program. Bryant has served as staff chair of the NCSL's Task Force on Developmental Disabilities and the Children, Youth, and Families Committee and is a founding member of NCSL's Medicaid Legislative Staff Network.

Bryant's selection recognizes not only on his long record of public service to the Utah Legislature and the Office of Legislative Research and General Counsel but also honors his work on behalf of NCSL and RACSS at the Skills Development Seminar. As a member of the faculty team for the last five years, Bryant's efforts have revitalized the research and policy track, particularly in the areas of committee staffing and policy analysis. By serving as a mentor to a new generation of public servants, Bryant has benefited the many state legislatures whose staff have learned from his experience and expertise.

Kirk Mlinek
Manager, Policy Research and Committee Staff Section, Legislative Council, Colorado

The Research and Committee Staff Section honors Kirk Mlinek for his outstanding career as a legislative staff member for the Colorado Legislative Council and for his contributions to RACSS and NCSL in sharing his experience with junior legislative staff in other states through his work with the Skills Development Seminar.

Kirk Mlinek serves as the Manager of the Policy Research and Committee Staff Section for the Colorado Legislative Council, a position he has held for four years. Prior to becoming manager, he worked for nine years as a member of the Legislative Council's policy and research team, staffing House and Senate committees, including six years as the lead staff to the legislative Capital Development Committee, charged with developing recommendations for the funding of capital construction projects. Kirk's career in public service also includes two years as the Director of Capital Assets for the Colorado Commission on Higher Education. Kirk serves as the RACSS Regional Coordinator for the Mountain States Region and was a coordinator for the Colorado Host Committee for the 2002 NCSL Annual Meeting.

Kirk's selection honors not only on his long record of public service to the Colorado General Assembly and the state of Colorado but also recognizes his work on behalf of NCSL and RACSS at the Skills Development Seminar. As a member of the faculty team for the last five years, Kirk's efforts have revitalized the research and policy track, particularly in the areas of effective research and staff standards. Kirk's willingness to share his knowledge and experience and serve as a mentor to a new generation of public servants has benefited the many state legislatures whose staff have participated in the training.

2002 Awards

Robert Erickson
Research Director, Legislative Counsel Bureau, Nevada

Bob has worked for the Nevada legislature since 1979, becoming Director of the Research Division of the Legislative Counsel Bureau in 1984.

Bob was a founding member of the Research and Committee Staff Section in the early 1980s and has been an active member throughout RACSS' history. He was a member of the RACSS Executive Committee in 1988-89 and again from 1997 to 2002. Bob served a two-year term as chair, from 2000-2002, and has worked tirelessly to improve professional development opportunities for legislative staff, enhance outreach efforts to involve more staff and insure continuity of leadership for the staff section. Bob has been the lead planner for the RACSS annual professional development seminar for two years, served on numerous RACSS subcommittees, served as faculty for many RACSS programs, and became a mentor for legislative staff wanting to become more active in RACSS.

In addition to his support of RACSS activities, Bob has also actively participated with the NCSL Legislative Staff Coordinating Committee, the Reapportionment Task Force, served as a speaker at many NCSL meetings, and was one of the lead host state staff for the NCSL Annual Meeting in Las Vegas. Bob is a 1992 graduate of the Legislative Staff Management Institute.

Terry Anderson
Director, Legislative Council, Wisconsin

Terry's legislative career spans more than 25 years. In 2000, he was named the Director of the Legislative Council in Wisconsin. Prior to that, Terry was the Director of the Legislative Research Council in South Dakota. He joined the Council staff in 1977 and became Director in 1982.

Terry has been an active member of the Research and Committee Staff Section, serving as faculty for numerous programs, serving on subcommittees and providing support for RACSS activities throughout the years.

Terry has been very active with NCSL, serving as NCSL Staff Chair, Staff Vice-Chair of the Assembly on the Legislature, member of the NCSL Executive Committee, member of the NCSL Budget Committee, numerous staff section officer positions and has often served as faculty for programs sponsored by NCSL. Throughout his legislative career, Terry has sought to improve the working environment for legislative staff and enhance their opportunities for professional development.

2001 Awards

Richard V. Strong
Director (retired), Office of Legislative Research and General Counsel, Utah

The Research and Committee Staff Section honors Richard Strong for his support of professional development for legislative staff and for his many years of dedicated and exemplary service to the Utah State Legislature.

Richard began working for the Utah Legislature in 1971 and was named Director of the Office of Legislative Research and General Counsel in 1985, a position he held until his retirement in December, 2000. In a Joint Resolution honoring him for his 30 years of service, the Utah Legislature stated that his work "was distinguished by enthusiasm, commitment to excellence, a willingness to tackle difficult challenges, and integrity." Richard strongly supported professional development for his staff and the use of technology to provide the best possible service to the legislature and the public. Richard's work in providing online access to legislative information won him and the office the 1998 Roy B. Gibson Freedom of Information Award, from the Utah chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists. Richard also worked with legislative leaders to improve legislative rules and procedures that insured members had adequate time to consider bills and budgets and that made optimal use of staff services.

Richard supported the activities of the Research and Committee Staff Section, serving on the Executive Committee and as RACSS Chair for 1991. Under his leadership, RACSS began publishing its annual Directory of Key Research Contacts, a 50-state guide to legislative research offices. Richard was elected to the NCSL Executive Committee and also was active in the work of the Council of State Governments.

Karl Aro
Executive Director, Department of Legislative Services, Maryland

The Research and Committee Staff Section recognizes Karl Aro for his leadership and efforts in support of RACSS programs and activities and for his excellence in direction of staff agencies for the Maryland General Assembly.

Karl began his legislative career in 1979, serving as Maryland's key staff person for redistricting and reapportionment, and being appointed as Deputy Director of the Research Division in 1985. When Maryland's legislative staff services were completely reorganized in 1997, Karl was selected as the Executive Director of the newly created Department of Legislative Services. Under his leadership, members of the Maryland General Assembly are provided with effective, efficient, and progressive staff services. From committee services, to fiscal notes, to bill drafting, to technology, each staff unit is on the cutting edge in providing comprehensive services to the Maryland General Assembly. Their operations are most impressive and serve as a model for other states in enhancing their products and services.

Karl has provided invaluable service to the Research and Committee Staff Section, serving on the Executive Committee for a number of years, and as the Chair of RACSS for 1998-99. He has planned numerous programs and seminars for RACSS members, served on standing and ad hoc committees, assisted with special projects, and provided counsel and assistance to RACSS officers. Karl was elected to the NCSL Executive Committee in 2000 and serves on the Legislative Staff Coordinating Committee. Karl is a graduate of the Legislative Staff Management Institute, class of 1993.

 2000 Awards

Darrell Jackson
Director of Research, House of Representatives, Missouri


Darrell Jackson joined the research staff of the Missouri House of Representatives in 1977 and since 1981 has served as the director of the House Research Staff. As Director, he provides management and direction for staff responsible for policy analysis and committee support for the House of Representatives. He conducts parliamentary and constitutional research for the Speaker and Chief Clerk of the House, and leads special projects, including planning for congressional redistricting, university-legislative collaboration and long-range planning of statewide policy issues.

Darrell served as RACSS chairperson for 1995, following a term as vice-chair in 1994. He also served several terms on the RACSS Steering Committee and represented RACSS on the Legislative Staff Coordinating Committee. Darrell has served as a panelist for numerous RACSS and NCSL sessions was instrumental in organizing and planning senior professional development seminars for RACSS members and has served as a mentor for others by both recruiting candidates for staff section offices and freely sharing his knowledge, skills and experience.

In addition to his service to RACSS, Darrell has provided invaluable assistance and support to NCSL through his activities with the Legislative Staff Coordinating Committee, the Assembly on State Issues’ Redistricting Task Force and the Civic Education Network.  Darrell was one of the principal authors of and a guiding force in the establishment of the LSCC Model Code of Conduct for Legislative Staff, which was adopted by the NCSL Executive Committee in July, 1995.  He is a graduate of the Legislative Staff Management Institute, class of 1990.

Darrell Jackson represents the very best qualities to which those engaged in supporting the work of state legislatures aspire. His dedication, professionalism, integrity and record of service to the Missouri Legislature and his legislative staff colleagues throughout the nation have set a lofty standard for others to follow.

Sandy Deaton
Committee Staff Administrator, Education Committee, Legislative Research Commission, Kentucky

Sandy Deaton started her legislative career in 1978 as an analyst for the education committee. She later become a committee staff administrator, and currently supervises three legislative analysts and two administrative personnel. Throughout a career spanning twenty-two years, Sandy has exemplified dedication to excellence in legislative service.

Sandy’s extensive knowledge of education issues has made her a valuable asset to the Kentucky General Assembly.  She was one of the lead staff persons assisting members in the enactment of the Kentucky Education Reform Act, one of the most nationally recognized reform acts of the past decade, and has served on numerous education task forces and study groups for the legislature and the Governor.

Sandy has generously shared her expertise in education issues with legislative colleagues in other states. She has served as a resource for other state legislatures considering major revisions of their educational systems and assisted her fellow legislative staff in understanding the complex issues of education finance.

Sandy has actively supported the work of NCSL, serving with a variety of committees and activities. She participated in NCSL’s Education Partners Project, which produced a comprehensive report on school funding, entitled Principles of a Sound State School Finance System in 1997. She also participated in the National Forum on Education Adequacy and assisted in publication of Educational Adequacy: Building An Adequate School Finance System in 1998. Her participation in the Legislative Staff Education Network and Education Committee of the Assembly on State Issues has provided invaluable service to NCSL and served as a means of sharing her knowledge and expertise on education issues with colleagues in other state legislatures.

Sandy’s contributions to the Legislative Research Commission have raised the standards of legislative staff services and her work for the Kentucky General Assembly has resulted in a better education system for the citizens of Kentucky. Her service to NCSL has supported staff activities within the conference and provided significant benefit to other state legislatures. 

1999 Awards

Diane Bolender
Director, Legislative Service Bureau, Iowa

Diane Bolender's service to the Iowa Legislative Service Bureau has spanned over 32 years, during which time she has served as research analyst, senior analyst, Research Division Chief, Deputy Director, and since 1989, as Director.

Despite the heavy demands and responsibilities in supporting the work of the Iowa Legislature, Diane has been an active participant and leader in the National Conference of State Legislatures, having served multiple terms as a member of the NCSL Executive Committee and the Legislative Staff Coordinating Committee, where she has been both a member and chair of numerous task forces.  She has also been both a member and staff chair of the Assembly on State Issues and has served as chair and as a member of the Staff Nominating Committee and coordinator of the Annual Meeting Staff Information Booth.

Diane has brought this same combination of energy, enthusiasm, dedication and leadership to the Research and Committee Staff Section. She has served RACSS as a member of its Executive Committee, as Vice Chair and Chair, and for 1997, as Newsletter Editor. In that capacity, Diane's efforts in building a network of regional coordinators and correspondents has paid handsome dividends and has resulted in a superb information resource. Diane has been a frequent participant in staff section programs and has been involved in planning many annual meeting and professional development programs, including the 1997 and 1998 senior professional development seminars.

Diane Bolender exemplifies the very best in legislative staff leadership. Her extraordinary dedication and commitment, coupled with her personal warmth, enthusiasm and energy, have made an indelible and lasting impression on her legislative colleagues. The Iowa Legislature, the NCSL and the Research and Committee Staff Section have been the beneficiaries of Diane's talents and willingness to use those skills on behalf of the legislative institution.

David Hite
Deputy Director, Legislative Council, Colorado

As a staff member of the Colorado General Assembly for more than 34 years, and as Deputy Director of its Legislative Council for the past 10 years, David has used his knowledge and experience to support the work of the legislature and to increase public understanding of the legislative institution and legislative process.

During his tenure, David established a Constituent Services Unit to help legislators to better serve their constituents. He has been responsible for the Colorado Ballot Analysis, which provides detailed background information on ballot proposals submitted to the electorate and is distributed to each voter household in Colorado.

Drawing on his extensive knowledge of legislative rules, policies and procedures, he has hosted numerous international guests and helped train many interns. David has also worked to build the professionalism of staff by working with new staff to improve skills. He has used his interest and knowledge of historic preservation to assist in the planning and implementation of many Capitol building and grounds projects. Over the course of his career, David has developed expertise in a number of areas in addition to the legislature, including state government organization, the state personnel system, and the workings of the executive and judicial branches.

David has also been an active participant in the National Conference of State Legislatures and the Research and Committee Staff Section. He has been a member of the Legislative Staff Coordinating Committee and the Staff Chair of the Arts and Tourism Committee of the Assembly on State Issues. He served as RACSS Chair in 1994, following four years as a member of its Executive Committee. During his tenure as Chair and in keeping with his longstanding commitment to professional development, David helped plan the staff section's first professional seminar, which was one of the most successful and highly rated training programs presented by RACSS.

David Hite has been a knowledgeable and involved legislative staffer who has been generous in sharing his expertise, time, and energy with his colleagues in Colorado and throughout the nation. But what we are most appreciative of and what sets David apart is the grace, good humor, and generosity of spirit which he brought to these endeavors. His contributions have been made more valuable by the manner in which he provided them. In short, it is difficult to imagine a more deserving candidate for this award.

1998 Awards

Larry Barish
Director, Reference and Library Services, Legislative Reference Bureau, Wisconsin

Larry Barish has been an integral part of the Research and Committee Staff Section (RACSS) and of outstanding service to RACSS, NCSL and the Wisconsin Legislature. Larry served two terms as the chair of RACSS, and has served as vice-chair for the staff section and as a member of its Executive Committee for several years.

In these capacities of leadership for RACSS, Larry oversaw a major revision of the staff section's bylaws, and established and nurtured development of the RACSS Home Page on NCSL's web site. Larry planned the very successful 1996 RACSS Professional Development Seminar, a first effort on the part of RACSS to co-sponsor this event with another staff section, and has planned, moderated or served as faculty for numerous programs for RACSS and NCSL. He had a great influence in the development and enhancement of the RACSS Newsletter, from format to authors to articles. Larry represented RACSS for three years on the Legislative Staff Coordinating Committee.

On his home ground in Madison, Larry began his career with the Wisconsin Legislative Reference Bureau in 1971. He was promoted to his current position as Director of Reference and Library Services in 1986. In addition to his work in research and information services, he has been very much involved in the areas of training, reapportionment, use of technology, publishing and management. Larry serves as the Editor of the Wisconsin Blue Book, a 1,000-page almanac of Wisconsin government, and many other publications for the Legislature. He serves as the chairman of an interagency group overseeing the development and use of the Wisconsin legislative web site.

Larry Barish demonstrates a extraordinary commitment to and an understanding of the legislative institution, and to the role of staff in supporting and protecting the legislative institution. A graduate of the Legislative Staff Management Institute, he has advocated the value of professional development for staff throughout his career and strongly supports legislative staff involvement in RACSS and NCSL. He is a man of great personal integrity, energy and commitment, who has made a difference for RACSS and NCSL, and for the Wisconsin Legislature which he so ably serves.

Allan Green
Director (retired), Office of Legislative Research, Connecticut

Allan Green has been an invaluable resource to the Research and Committee Staff Section (RACSS) and of extraordinary service to RACSS, NCSL and the state legislatures he has served throughout his career. Allan worked tirelessly for NCSL and specifically for the Research and Committee Staff Section. His contributions included membership on the NCSL Executive Committee and the Legislative Staff Coordinating Committee. For RACSS, he was a driving force in the establishment and growth of the staff section, serving both as chairperson and as a member of the staff section's steering committee. Allan was on the faculty for the research track of the Skills Development Seminar for junior legislative staff for more than a decade. He helped plan and acted as moderator or panelist at countless NCSL and RACSS sponsored programs.

Allan was the principal force behind the establishment in 1994 of a RACSS Professional Development Seminar for senior research staff, a seminar that has become the premier annual event of the staff section. As always, he contributed constructive ideas for the event and, without hesitation, agreed to serve as host for the first seminar, setting the standard for those to follow over the years.

Allan recently retired from the directorship of the Connecticut Office of Legislative Research, a position he held from 1984 through 1997. Before serving the General Assembly in Connecticut, he applied his talents in three state legislatures. Allan was Director of the Oregon Legislative Assembly's Research Office, and also worked for the Colorado and Washington legislatures. He started his professional career as a political science instructor at the University of Puget Sound.
Finally, Allan did not limit the application of his skills to this country. Under the sponsorship of NCSL and other organizations, he instructed parliamentary staffs in emerging democracies in Africa and Eastern Europe, drawing on his vast skills and experience in state legislatures.

1997 Awards

Carvel Payne
Director (retired), Department of Legislative Reference, Maryland

The career of Carvel Payne spans the growth of them National Conference of State Legislatures and of legislative staff institutions nationally. As a first recipient of the Legislative Staff Achievement Award, Carvel Payne is recognized for his long and significant service to NCSL and to Maryland's General Assembly.

An employee of the Maryland General Assembly for 27 years, Carvel served as Director of its Department of Legislative Reference from 1978 until his retirement in June of 1997. Carvel was instrumental in organizing NCSL's Research and Committee Staff Section in 1983, helping settle on a name and scope of interests for the group. He served as Chairman of RACSS in 1985-86, and as a member of the Legislative Staff Coordinating Committee. As a member of the LSCC, Carvel made significant contributions to the work of the Task Force on International Legislative Assistance and Cooperation. In addition, Carvel was actively involved with the Legal Services Staff Section. He also played an active role in hosting the 1988 meeting of the Assembly on the Legislature.

In his office in Annapolis, Carvel expanded and improved committee staffing, created the Research Division and initiated several publications. Carvel enhanced legislative information services and presided over movement of his office into the computer age, as well as developing bill tracking and bill drafting systems. And although his focus was improving the legislative process in Maryland, Carvel's door was always open to international visitors.

Joyce Honaker
Committee Staff Administrator, Legislative Research Commission, Kentucky

Joyce Honaker has strengthened the institution of the state legislature as an employee of the Kentucky General Assembly, as well as a participant in numerous programs and committees of the National Conference of State Legislatures. In tribute to a career of 26 years, it is altogether fitting that Joyce Honaker be a first recipient of the Legislative Staff Achievement Award from the Research and Committee Staff Section.

Joyce is the quintessential legislative research staffer. Her career in Kentucky is characterized by excellence in all areas of legislative staffing, including bill drafting, research, and committee work. Worthy of special note is Joyce's service as primary staff for six redistricting sessions. She understands the role of staff and the needs of legislators and keeps the concern for the legislative institution foremost in her approach to assignments. In 1996, Joyce shared her knowledge in a parliamentary staff training workshop in Namibia.

A significant number of NCSL efforts have been strengthened through the leadership of Joyce Honaker. She has been a member of NCSL's Executive Committee. She served as chair of RACSS in1987-89, and has been on the RACSS steering committee on numerous occasions. Her additional responsibilities include faculty assignments for NCSL Annual Meetings, membership on the LSCC, and chairmanships for the State Government Issues and Organization Committee and the Developmental Disabilities Task Force. Joyce has also served on the Reapportionment Task Force and the Fiscal, Oversight and Intergovernmental Affairs Committee, as well as the Assembly on the Legislature Steering Committee.

 

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