For its “Staff Snapshots” series, State Legislatures News is asking legislative staff about their roles in the legislature, what inspires them and what they love about their jobs. If you’d like to suggest a staffer for this series, please email Holly South at NCSL.
Ali Sagraves is an assistant clerk and committee clerk for the Ohio House of Representatives.
Why did you choose to work at the legislature?
While interning for an Ohio congressman in one of his district offices, I was encouraged to apply for opportunities in the Ohio legislature because the impact hits closer to home. Wanting to have a positive impact on my community and state, I applied for a legislative fellowship position after graduation over a decade ago and was placed in the Ohio House of Representatives. I left the House for a couple of years to work in a statewide office—helping with legislative and constituent affairs—and then jumped at the opportunity to return to the statehouse as part of the House clerk’s team.
The statehouse has proven to be a special place. I get to use my administrative gifts and detail-oriented mind to be a part of the legislative process and hopefully make a positive impact on the lives of my fellow Ohioans. It has also been a blessing getting to know some of the legislators who have servant-leaders’ hearts. They are encouraging and inspiring individuals. They are a big reason why I’ve continued to work in the legislature and am now serving in my fifth General Assembly. Not everyone is able to work in a place where their gifts, passions and purpose collide, and I do not take this experience for granted.
What skill or talent are you most proud of?
At church, we occasionally will take “spiritual gift” tests to help guide us to serving in positions where we might be most useful and fulfill our purposes. Administration and service are always my highest scores. Serving in the clerk’s office, I’m grateful to be able use those gifts daily in an effective way for a purpose much greater than myself. However, looking back on how I have grown over the past decade on Capitol Square, I am quite grateful that I’ve learned to successfully navigate the many personalities at the statehouse—among the members, staff and others—and form close bonds with some spectacular individuals who help make me want to continue showing up each day and giving it my all. I am most proud of that.
What’s the best advice you were ever given?
“Know that where you are right now is a mission field.” This advice has come from numerous individuals (family, pastors, mentors, etc.). It has been a common theme as of late. Having that perspective throughout some rather choppy seas in recent years at the Ohio House has made all the difference in helping me keep my footing and be a steadying force in my small role for the institution. It’s helped me to do my best work while also trying to be a light and encourager to the members and staff in the statehouse.
Who or what inspires you?
There are a handful of legislators I have gotten to know over the last several years who are fighting the good fight. Their determination, fortitude and grit (with a healthy amount of grace) inspire me. Serving in a support role to those who have a leadership call on their lives is a blessing.
Since I’m now more of a “seasoned” staff member, helping new staff step into their roles and accomplish tasks outside their comfort zone or that they didn’t expect they’d be doing (and do them well!) is also inspiring.
What’s one thing you love about your state?
Ohio is a slice of Americana, and it also has great diversity. We experience all four seasons; we have Lake Erie up north and the mountains and hills of Appalachia in the southern part of the state, with beautiful farmland all over; we have bustling urban areas to experience, as well as quaint, quiet rural areas.
What are you currently reading or watching?
I’m currently reading “The Daniel Prayer,” by Anne Graham Lotz, and it’s transforming my prayer life and commitment to do so. Also, I like to read historical novels and am halfway through “The Auschwitz Escape,” by Joel C. Rosenberg. Can’t seem to put that one down.
“Parks and Recreation” is always my go-to TV show. Typically, the laughs are needed and therapeutic after a long day. I’m also watching “When Calls the Heart” with my parents, and we enjoy speculating what might happen next in the lives of the characters of Hope Valley. It’s a fun way to connect with my family, even though we’re in different states right now. Also, at the urging of many family and friends, I’ve begun “The Chosen” series and am enjoying seeing “the greatest story ever told” presented in a unique way.
This interview has been edited for length and clarity.