Melody Joy DeBussey
Hometown: Gainesville, Fla.
Role: Director, Georgia State Senate Budget and Evaluation Office; president, National Association of Legislative Fiscal Offices
Years of legislative service: 14
Skill or talent she’s most proud of: “Unremitting curiosity. The legislature is a natural home,” she says, “of explorers who endeavor to approach problems together with interest and inquisitive consideration.”
Why did you choose to work at the legislature?
I really had an interest in how dollars drive decision-making and studied national disaster declarations and their federal appropriations as part of a college requirement, not really understanding that this could or would be my job. I started as a performance auditor, and really appreciated the analytic work of auditors while learning the functions of state government, before I moved to a role earlier in the policy process supporting the Senate.
What’s the best advice you were ever given?
The late, great Senator Jack Hill (R; 1944-2020) was an empowering boss who mentored so many, and he really impressed upon me the need to affirm gratitude to people. The policy process can appear singular while the reality is far more collective.
Who or what inspires you?
Words really resonate and inspire me. Whether in music, poetry, reading or the long fiery floor speeches of our members, I’m on a constant search to find the right words.
What’s one thing you love about your state?
Peaches! Seriously, Georgia has amazing agriculture, and our peaches, pecans and blueberries are tops. As my adopted home state, Georgia continuously amazes with its changing scenery. From the coastal marshlands and the beaches of the Golden Isles, to the beauty of the Blue Ridge Mountains, to the swampland of the Okefenokee Wilderness and the terrain of Providence Canyon, there’s a lot to see and experience.
What are you currently reading/listening to/watching?
All the podcasts! The best/worst part of commuting in the Atlanta-area traffic is the time it takes. Every finance nerd loves “Planet Money,” and I also appreciate concise news rewinds in addition to NCSL’s “Our American States” podcast. I’m currently reading “All Data Are Local” by Yanni Loukissas and “Dream Big” by Bob Goff.
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.