Hometown: Annapolis, Md.
Role: Policy Analyst (fiscal and policy note functions), Maryland General Assembly
Years of legislative service: Six
NCSL connection: Elder is a 2020 graduate of NCSL’s Legislative Staff Certificate Program.
Skill or talent he’s most proud of: “My ability to adapt to unpredictable situations. The legislature can be a chaotic place, so being able to adjust as needed is a useful skill.”
Why did you choose to work at the legislature?
I wanted my work to have an impact, both in my immediate community and my state. I enjoyed my first legislative session as a temporary staffer and knew I wanted to continue my career with the Legislature. A combination of good timing and opportunity allowed me to convert my temporary status into a full-time job running the Department of Legislative Services information desk. I later transferred to the department’s fiscal note function. I have enjoyed every minute working for the Legislature and its members, and I look forward to many more years working for my state.
What skill or talent are you most proud of?
My ability to adapt to unpredictable situations. The legislature can be a chaotic place, so being able to adjust as needed is a useful skill.
What’s the best advice you were ever given?
Always be flexible and make yourself available when opportunities become present. I have been able to work on interesting projects and assignments I might not otherwise have been able to if I had not been willing to work outside of my comfort zone.
Who or what inspires you?
I am inspired by my colleagues in my department. Regardless of how stressful or overwhelmed everyone is due to the pressures of working in a legislature (especially during session!), everyone rallies to help each other regardless of their roles. Everyone is invested in the mission of the department, and it makes me want to be better at my role to better support them in return.
What’s one thing you love about your state?
One of the best things about Maryland is how diverse it is for being so small (“America in miniature,” as Marylanders like to say), in addition to being so close to other states. It’s hard to not find new places to visit or explore, either in Maryland or nearby.
What are you currently reading/listening to/watching?
I am working on two books: “The Voucher Promise: ‘Section 8’ and the Fate of an American Neighborhood,” by Eva Rosen, and “Only the Rich Can Play: How Washington Works in the New Gilded Age,” by David Wessel.
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.