melissa renick photo illustration

Staff Snapshots | Melissa Renick

May 27, 2022 | State Legislatures News | Print

Melissa Renick

Hometown: Sterling, Kan.

Role: Assistant Director for Research, Kansas Legislative Research Department

NCSL connection: Renick is a member of NSCL’s Communications, Financial Services and Interstate Commerce Standing Committee 280

Years of legislative service: I just completed my 20th legislative session. Fun fact: My first day with the Kansas Legislature coincided with the placement of a bronze statue, Ad Astra (a Kansa Warrior), atop the Statehouse.

What and who inspires her: “Growing up on the Kansas prairie instilled a strong sense of family, faith and self—who I was uniquely called to be. At work, I am constantly inspired by the curiosity, strong work ethic, and considerate support exhibited by my colleagues.”

 

Why did you choose to work at the legislature?

In many ways, the work chose me. My graduate studies and professional work experience were in museum studies and history. At the conclusion of a grant-funded museum position in Texas, I learned about the opening at Legislative Research back in my home state. Remarkably, the skills, abilities and interest in preserving the historical record, carefully describing an object’s condition, and telling the story for the next generation fit well with the legislative analyst position: writing clearly and succinctly, making public presentations, and possessing strong analytical skills while working as a nonpartisan, objective participant in the legislative process.

What skill or talent are you most proud of?

As an identical twin, I have always looked for the differences, no matter how subtle. In the policy world, this focus provides an opportunity to step back and observe, listen and prepare information to fit the context of the discussion and advance the decision-making.

What’s the best advice you were ever given?

“And that can be enough.” Too often, perfectionism creates undue stress and focus on the smallest detail, especially with publications and presentations. Over time, I have learned to refocus and be much more comfortable in striving for excellence. The result is a better outcome and an openness to the lessons of the journey.

What’s one thing you love about your state?

Despite being described as “flat,” Kansas has interesting geography and places as awe-inspiring as the highest mountain peaks or the lowest valleys—from the chalk formations of Monument Rocks and the tallgrass prairie grasses waving in the not-so-subtle wind to the rolling Flint Hills. My husband, our tenacious terrier, and I enjoy exploring the state parks—still more to discover about my home state.

What are you currently reading/listening to/watching?

With the conclusion of the legislative session, I plan to add a few Kansas “notable books” to my reading list. Most often, you will find me listening to various genres of music, particularly in the evening to wind down and recharge from the day’s events.

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.

Additional Resources