By Kevin Frazzini
We’re pretty sure that Bill Pound, who retired this summer after 32 years as executive director of the National Conference of State Legislatures, would have preferred to leave quietly.
He’d rather we didn’t fuss over him or his long list of achievements—the way he’s helped so many legislatures institute innovative reforms, trained new legislative leaders, orchestrated landmark lobbying victories in Washington, D.C., promoted international understanding about representative democracy, and so much more.
No, he’d prefer that we let the strength of this bipartisan organization speak for itself.
But we have to make just a little fuss. Sorry, Bill.
There’s just too much to celebrate about this “country boy who made good,” as the newspaper in his Colorado hometown described him while he was still a student at Denver University.
In a heartfelt send-off in the July/August issue of State Legislatures magazine, Bill’s longtime friend and NCSL colleague Carl Tubbesing shows that few leaders and organizations fit together so perfectly as Bill Pound and NCSL.
For starters, “Bill’s knowledge is encyclopedic,” Tubbesing writes. “State budgets and tax policy were particular specialties from his earliest days on the job; but you wouldn’t want to go up against him on ‘Jeopardy!’ or on any other state issue, either.”
But a career like Bill’s is built on more than policy know-how.
“Bill’s passion for legislatures translated into dedication and sacrifice,” Tubbesing writes. “Without hesitation he would stay late on a Friday to answer an urgent information request. Give up his Sunday afternoon so he could be in Washington, D.C., first thing Monday. … Even sleep in his chair in the Washington office when his flight home from Dulles had been canceled.”
Read our story, “A Remarkable Man,” here.
As we say goodbye to Bill, we also say hello to Tim Storey, NCSL’s new executive director, and take a look back at another remarkable story—that of NCSL itself. Julie Lays, the editor of State Legislatures magazine, recounts the conference’s 45-year partnership with state legislatures, beginning with its founding in 1974 with the merger of three competing national organizations. In many ways it’s a story of teaching lawmakers to fish—that is, how to build stronger states and, thus, a stronger nation.
Kevin Frazzini is senior editor of State Legislatures magazine.