Hometown: Murphysboro, Ill.
Role: Clerk of the Illinois House of Representatives
Years of legislative service: 18
The skill or talent he’s most proud of: “My analytical skills and patience—which definitely is useful working with the legislature. From the experience of teaching myself to read music, I learned that nothing is off limits if I am willing to put in the time, effort and work. I now serve as a church organist on the weekends.”
Why did you choose to work at the legislature?
I applied for a competitive internship with the Illinois General Assembly to gain insight and build skills before going to law school. When I was selected to work with the House of Representatives, I did not anticipate that I would be offered a full-time job after the internship. But after I was offered a permanent position, I decided to forego law school and instead continue working for the legislature. I do not regret that decision.
What’s the best advice you were ever given?
My father was a carpenter, so I learned early to “measure twice and cut once.” As a journalism student in college, I learned two adages: “trust, but verify” and “the devil is in the details.” All have been particularly helpful while working for the Illinois General Assembly.
Who or what inspires you?
The many dedicated employees assisting the work of the legislature—particularly in these divisive times. I have the privilege of knowing many of the staff who work for the Illinois House, from the partisan staff of the Democratic and Republican caucuses to the many bipartisan staff my office employs. They put their personal lives on hold to work long hours on session days, and are dedicated to the mission of improving the lives of all people across the state. Likewise, I have met many close friends from other state legislatures through NCSL and ASLCS who are just as dedicated to their states as we are in Illinois.
What’s one thing you love about your state?
I have had the great fortune to live in many areas of Illinois throughout my life. My family first moved to the suburbs of Chicago when I started grade school. A few years later, we moved to Murphysboro, in deep southern Illinois, where I enjoyed the region’s idyllic beauty while hiking through the rolling hills of the Shawnee National Forest and, in general, enjoyed the slow pace of rural living. Since that time, I have also lived in the hustle and bustle of the city of Chicago, and now the flat farmlands of central Illinois. Throughout each step, meeting and interacting with people from all walks of life (religious, ethnic, racial, etc.) has helped me grow as a person. Our state’s diversity is our strength and I am proud that Illinois celebrates it all.
What are you currently reading/listening to/watching?
I wish I had something more inspiring for this answer, but I have been learning Italian and Japanese in recent years, so most of my books, podcasts and audiobooks these days are language-learning related. I have progressed enough with my Italian that I am starting to read some simple books in the language. My goal is to read the “Harry Potter” series in Italian. I also love that the streaming services like Netflix and Disney+ now have options to watch the shows in many different languages, so I can change the audio to Italian and add English subtitles. There is always an opportunity to learn in life!
This interview has been edited for length and clarity.
For its “Staff Snapshots” series, State Legislatures News is asking legislative staff about their role in the legislature. If you’d like to suggest a staffer for this series, please email Holly South at NCSL.