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.
Title: Legislative Research Analyst, Montana Legislative Services Division
Hometown: Helena, Montana
Years of service: 13 years in October
One thing she loves about her state: The geography varies from border to border. You can drive for two hours in any direction and be in a different landscape. It’s hard to be bored on a road trip in Montana.
Why did you choose to work at the legislature?
I grew up in Helena, and my dad worked in various nonpartisan state government jobs, including ones in and near the Capitol. The building was always a familiar sight to me. During high school and college, I became fascinated by policy and the legislative process. After college, I discovered that Montana has a nonpartisan legislative staff and knew it was something I wanted to do. When a former boss became a legislative research analyst, I was inspired to work with her again when there was an opening. Because research analysts in Montana draft bills, staff committees and provide research on policy issues, I can combine my love of words and of the legislative process in a nonpartisan way.
What skill or talent are you most proud of?
I am pretty easygoing. Being willing and able to get along with most people makes my interactions with co-workers, legislators, agency staff, lobbyists and the public easier. It’s a skill that I try to practice consciously, but it’s also a gift that I’ve had since I was a kid.
What’s the best advice you were ever given?
Best work advice: It’s a self-healing process.
Best life advice: Do what you can with what you have every day.
Who or what inspires you?
Right now, I am inspired by my co-workers in our research and legal offices. We are creatures of habit and change is hard. However, in a year that threw many of our carefully constructed processes for a loop, everyone adjusted and adapted, sometimes overnight. I am inspired by their resilience, their willingness to create and share new processes or tools that make our work more meaningful and useful to legislators, and their constant support of each other even and especially on the hardest days.
What are you currently reading/watching?
I am currently rereading the Maisie Dobbs mystery series for some post-session light entertainment. I’m not tied to a specific show right now, but I have been watching “Kim’s Convenience” on Netflix and various Olympic trials events when I can find them on the few channels I receive at home.
This interview has been edited for length and clarity.