By Holly South
Legislators in 11 states will note a new face behind the rostrum with the election or appointment of a new chief clerk or secretary in their chamber.
Each of these American Society of Legislative Clerks and Secretaries (ASLCS) members serve as the chief administrative officers in their chambers; some are the parliamentarian as well. And while they may be new to this role, they are all veterans of the legislature.
Megan Selin Allen | Chief Clerk, Utah House
“What I love most about working for the Utah House,” Allen says, “is having a view of and a small role in the statewide impact the legislature has. I’m looking forward this session to working in a different capacity and more closely with a lot of great long-time legislative staff.” Allen is well known to Utah legislators, having first interned with Representative Greg Hughes (R) in 2008 and serving as deputy chief of staff for the last four years. She grew up in the Salt Lake City area and after stints with the U.S. Department of Agriculture in Washington, D.C., and a study abroad program in Xiamen, China, lives there now with her husband and two children.
Joy Bower | Secretary, Delaware Senate
A native of Milford, Del., Bower succeeds her good friend and colleague, longtime secretary of the Senate Bernard Brady (both pictured at left), who shared that he “had the honor and distinct privilege of administering the oath of office of secretary of the Senate to Joy” upon his retirement. A mother of two, she has worked for the Senate since 1988 in a variety of roles until being appointed in 2003 to serve as assistant secretary under Brady.
Erika Contreras | Secretary, California Senate
Contreras, who was born in Aguascalientes, Mexico and raised in the San Fernando Valley, served as the chief of staff to Senator Ricardo Lara (D) since 2010 before being appointed to succeed the retiring Daniel Alvarez. According to Senate President Pro Tempore Toni Atkins (D), quoted in the Los Angeles Times, “Erika is deeply familiar with the inner workings of the Senate and has a profound appreciation for our traditions.”
Darek Grant | Secretary, Maine Senate
Born and raised in Augusta, Grant has worked in the Maine Senate in “many different capacities”—including as assistant sergeant-at-arms and a legislative aide—since 2003. He was first appointed Secretary of the Senate in 2012, “where I got to learn from the greatest mentor, the late Joy O’Brien, former longtime secretary of the Senate.” Grant then worked as chief of staff for Senate Democrats before returning to serve as secretary of the Senate in December. The father of two children and a yellow lab, Grant has “a passion for public service. As secretary of the Senate, I really appreciate being a steward of the institution and continuing its tradition and history.”
John Hollman | Chief Clerk, Illinois House
Hollman began his legislative career as an intern for the Illinois House Democratic caucus and eventually became a legislative analyst for Speaker Michael Madigan (D) focusing on consumer protection issues and licensed professionals. In 2012, he moved to the clerk’s office where he served as the reading clerk until being appointed acting clerk of the House last June. He was officially elected clerk of the House on Nov. 13, 2018, for the remainder of the 100th General Assembly and again this month for the 101st. “What I love about my job is guiding the professional staff of the clerk’s office—whose work behind the scenes is so important, yet too often may be forgotten if we are doing our jobs correctly—so that all members of the Illinois House of Representatives are able to work to achieve their legislative goals. I also look forward to guiding our new members as they learn the legislative process.”
Part II continues with more on the new secretaries/clerks.
Holly South is a policy specialist in NCSL’s Legislative Staff Services Program and serves as the NCSL liaison to the American Society of Legislative Clerks and Secretaries (ASLCS). ASLCS is one of nine professional staff associations at NCSL.