Nancy Cyr: Aug. 19, 2009

By Nancy Cyr

“Shoulders back; nostrils flaring!”

That was my mother’s pep talk every time I faced what I saw as a challenge in my life, whether it was selling Girl Scout cookies door-to-door, taking the bar exam or interviewing for a job. Those words echoed in my head as I accepted the gavel at the Legislative Summit in Philadelphia this past July. I am excited, honored and a little nervous as I begin my year as NCSL staff chair.
What’s on the staff agenda for the coming year? Providing quality professional development opportunities, producing innovative e-learning programs and promoting legislative service as a career top this year’s things-to-do list.

Fall brings professional development as six of NCSL’s staff sections hold their annual training sessions. Leadership staff (LSS), public information officers (LINCS) and technology staff (NALIT) meet in Austin, Texas,  Sept. 9-12. The clerks and secretaries (ASLCS) visit Seattle beginning Sept. 16, the sergeants and human resources professionals meet in Charleston, S.C. the week of Sept. 20, and the research librarians go north to St. Paul, Minn., Oct. 11-14.

While shrinking travel budgets and outright travel bans forced some staff sections to cancel or postpone fall meetings, continued staff education and training will not be canceled or postponed. In fact, professional development is already available from NCSL at a laptop or computer monitor near you.
Several top-notch sessions presented at the Philadelphia Summit are available on the NCSL website. Plus, the NCSL Foundation awarded NCSL $35,000 to be used for e-learning. Most of those funds were credited to an e-learning fund to help staff sections and standing committees develop e-learning programs. Staff sections are hard at work producing online programs. Legislative staff can continue to grow, learn, and stay involved in NCSL by taking advantage of these e-learning opportunities.

With nearly 28 years of legislative service, my career is closer to its end than its beginning. I am amazed at how quickly those years flew by. Many of my NCSL friends and colleagues are in the same boat. Legislative service is a great career. Where can you find another job that allows you to learn something new every day, interact with people from all walks of life and  truly make a difference?

Now is the time for us to spread the word to high school and college students throughout the country that legislative service is an exciting, challenging and honorable career choice.
NCSL is the premier professional development organization for legislative staff. The opportunities, services and resources available through NCSL are truly second to none. For those of you who have been involved in NCSL, please stay involved; for those new to the organization, take the plunge and join a staff section, explore the website or become active in a standing committee. Working together, we will continue to improve, enhance and expand staff opportunities, services and resources. It’s going to be a great year.