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American Society of Legislative Clerks and Secretaries (ASLCS)

Ali Sagraves, Assistant Clerk, Ohio House of Representatives  

Ali Sagraves began her service in the clerk’s office of the Ohio House of Representatives in December 2012, wearing hats in various roles before becoming assistant clerk in early 2020. She has also been an active member since 2015 of the American Society of Legislative Clerks and Secretaries (ASLCS) which, in her opinion, is NCSL’s greatest staff association. She participated in the Associate Exchange Program, assisted with hosting a meeting, served on panels and in committee leadership roles, represented ASLCS to the society’s Canadian counterparts, and serves on the ASLCS Executive Committee, including as associate vice president from 2021-2022.  

She graduated from the University of Findlay in 2010 with a bachelor’s degree in political science, international relations, and political communication. Prior to joining the Ohio House Clerk’s Office, she participated in the Ohio Legislative Service Commission Fellowship Program and assisted with constituent services and legislative affairs for the Ohio treasurer. She is a Kentucky transplant to Ohio, and calls Grove City her home where she is involved in her church family and frequents the town’s running trails. She never takes it for granted that she gets to serve her state in the People’s House and play a very small role in “keeping” the Republic. She enjoys working with her team in the House clerk’s office, helping new House staff grow in their roles, enrolling legislation and handling the changing-of-hands with the Senate, and being a resource to the members and staff on all things committee, session and parliamentary procedure. 

Finos B. "Buddy" Johnson, Parliamentarian/Coordinator of Legislative Services, Arkansas House of Representatives 

Finos B. “Buddy” Johnson served as parliamentarian and coordinator of legislative services for the Arkansas House of Representatives. He began working for the House in 1985 and became Parliamentarian in 2012. After 38 years of service, he retired at the end of June. 

As coordinator of legislative services for the House of Representatives, Johnson fulfilled administrative duties related to the operation of the legislative institution. As parliamentarian, he advised the Speaker of the House and its members on points of legislative procedures and supervised staff in the processing and documentation of steps necessary to law making. He previously worked as House information director, as assistant parliamentarian, and as the House chief of staff. 

Before coming to the House of Representatives, he worked as a news reporter in the Little Rock bureau of United Press International and prior to that as a reporter and editor for the Benton Courier. He holds a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Arkansas at Fayetteville and a master’s degree in public administration from the University of Arkansas at Little Rock. 

Mr. Johnson is a native of Ashdown. He and his wife, Elizabeth Findley Shores, a historian, live in Maumelle. They have two grown sons. 

Leadership Staff Professional Association (LSPA)

Liz Connolly, Deputy Chief of Staff, Ohio Senate Republican Caucus 

LSPA is thrilled to recognize Liz Connolly with its 2023 Legislative Staff Achievement Award. Connolly has faithfully served in the Ohio Senate for over 35 years. In that time, she has made an enormous contribution to the function, structure and effectiveness of the chamber as both a public-serving institution and a positive workplace. Hundreds, if not thousands, of staff, elected officials and other public servants have relied on Connolly for her leadership, mentorship and policy expertise. 

A vital component of Connolly’s senior leadership role in the Senate is staff mentorship. In the last several years alone, she has directly mentored dozens of staff and established a formal mentorship and professional development program whereby new staff are assisted by more experienced staff. Connolly is also sought after for her policy knowledge and experience—frequently, she refers legislative staff and members to NCSL staff to help Ohio’s elected officials better serve the needs of their community. She consistently advises staff to take advantage of NCSL’s many helpful resources, including its webinars and events, its Legislative Summit meetings and its various working groups. 

The Ohio Senate would not be the same without Connolly’s presence. Her influence is felt not only within the Republicans’ Statehouse majority but throughout Ohio’s Capitol square. Governors, statewide elected officials, and legislative leaders and staff of both parties have consistently held Connolly in high regard for her wisdom and character over the last three decades. Indeed, her institutional knowledge is respected and highly sought by all. 

Current and former legislative staff regularly attribute a high degree of their success to the positive effect Connolly has had on their careers and their personal development. Many affectionately refer to her as their “Senate mom.” While never prone to seeking attention or claiming credit, Connolly has had an enormously positive impact on the daily lives of all Ohioans. 

Brian Colleran, Senior Policy Advisor, Speaker's Office, Maine House of Representatives 

LSPA is excited to recognize the service and dedication of Brian Colleran with its 2023 Legislative Staff Achievement Award. Colleran, who is serving in his third legislature in the Maine House of Representatives, is currently the senior policy advisor in the office of the first African American House speaker. Previously, he served as senior staff to the House Independent and Tribal Caucus. 

Through his fearless diplomacy and professionalism across party lines, Colleran has built strong coalitions to pass smart policy that helps to solve the problems each legislator campaigned on. In a highly partisan environment, he has put politics aside to help find agreement for the betterment of the state’s communities.  

Working with the House speaker, Colleran has focused on establishing funding for rural emergency medical services, advancing self-determination for the five of Maine’s tribal communities, investing in the state’s agricultural economy, finding sustainable investments to help the homeless population, and expanding substance recovery treatment centers across the state. 

Colleran staffed the 2021 Bipartisan Legislative Reapportionment Commission to enact fair maps with a supermajority of support. 

Earlier this legislative session, Colleran was critical in organizing the second State of the Tribal Nations address to a joint session of the Legislature. The event marked the first time all five tribal chiefs spoke directly to lawmakers about the struggles their communities face because of state policy interfering with tribal self-determination. 

For new legislators struggling to figure out what is going on, Colleran has been a constant educator, patiently explaining the legislative process. His truthfulness and calm demeanor have generated respect from the many legislators who seek him out to get a straight and informed answer. 

Colleran has been a mentor to fellow legislative staff on process, on the respectful care that needs to be taken when making decisions about floor proceedings, and on the importance of learning about the legislative institution. 

Legislative Information and Communications Staff (LINCS)

Aundrea Peterson, Deputy Chief of Staff and Communications Director, Utah State Senate

Aundrea Peterson is the director of communications for the Utah Senate, where she collaborates with the chief of staff, leadership and Senate members to devise and execute effective communication strategies. She cultivates relationships with the media and ensures constituents and journalists are well-informed about legislative activities. Previously, she held positions at the Utah House of Representatives, World Trade Center Utah and the Utah Republican Party. She established the Emerging Leaders Initiative, a platform empowering young adults aged 18 to 35 to actively engage in policy discussions and contribute to Utah's political, cultural, and economic future. Her exceptional academic achievements include graduating Summa Cum Laude with departmental honors from Weber State University in 2014, where she received the Outstanding Academic for the Communication Department award. In her leisure time, she indulges her passion for global exploration, advocates for Israel and dedicates herself to fostering kittens. 

John Sattgast, Senior Public Information Officer, Radio/Broadcast Coordinator, Washington State House of Representatives

John Sattgast, a seasoned communications professional, has made remarkable contributions as a senior public information officer and radio/broadcast coordinator for the Washington State House Republican Caucus (HRC). With over 30 years of dedicated service, he consistently delivers top-notch support to the members and team he assists. As the radio/broadcast coordinator, he adeptly manages and produces critical radio content, including press releases, podcasts, audio posts and statewide interviews, often working beyond regular hours to ensure timely dissemination. Renowned as a legislative communications expert, he is also a go-to trainer for new communications staff, imparting his knowledge and skills to enhance the efficiency and effectiveness of the caucus. His versatility shines through in various projects, encompassing writing, copy editing, video production and mission-driven communication plans. Throughout his extensive career, he has exemplified professionalism and integrity while contributing to the HRC communications team's mission and goals. 

Legislative Research Librarians (LRL)

Ingrid Hernquist, Manager, Office of Legislative Services, Library Services, New Jersey Legislature 

The Legislative Research Librarians Staff Association is thrilled to award Ingrid Hernquist the 2023 LRL Legislative Staff Achievement Award. 

Hernquist has been involved with NCSL for over 25 years. She first became a judge for the Notable Documents Awards Committee in 1997. She enjoys attending the annual NCSL Legislative Summits and the LRL Professional Development Seminars. She is immediate past chair of the LRL staff association after serving as chair, vice chair, and secretary. During this time, she also served on the Legislative Staff Achievement Awards and the Officer Nominating Committee. 

She has also been involved with the Legislative Staff Coordinating Committee. During her years as an officer, she assisted in developing and participating in professional development sessions for PDS, Summit, and online LRL webinars. She has written for the LRL Newsline, including Chair’s Corner and summaries of seminars she attended at Summit and PDS. She has assisted fellow librarians by answering questions on the LRL Listserv. 

She is currently the manager of library services for the New Jersey Office of Legislative Services Library. She has worked in the New Jersey Legislative Library for over 27 years. Her primary duties include training and coordinating the work of library staff and providing general and legal research services for legislators and legislative staff.  

National Association of Legislative Fiscal Offices (NALFO)

John Guyer and Tom Horan, Executive Director and Assistant Executive Director of the Pennsylvania Senate Appropriations Committee 

For the past decade, John Guyer and Tom Horan have served as invaluable sources of information for the Senate Appropriations Committee in Pennsylvania. Working together as a team, they have earned a reputation of excellence from both their staff peers and member of the Senate.

Guyer and Horan are also known for their commitment to responsible budgeting, encouraging the build-up of the state’s rainy-day fund. Their work during the pandemic proved their ability to see and address fiscal vulnerabilities. 

Throughout their careers, they have worked tirelessly to provide accurate and thorough budget research to the Senate Appropriations Committee and other caucus members, and they are admired for their collaborative spirit. They remain steadfastly committed to assisting legislators with the budgeting process, and providing the resources needed for legislators to make educated decisions on behalf of their constituents. 

The Texas Legislative Budget Board Staff

The Texas Legislative Budget Board (LBB) Staff are instrumental in ensuring the Texas Legislature accomplishes its only constitutionally required goal every two years—passing the state’s biennial budget. Within a nine-month period leading up to and through the legislative session, the Texas LBB produces six different versions of the budget and accompanying documents. LBB staff also monitor capacity in the budget throughout the legislative session, providing legislators with thorough information to make informed decisions. 

Additionally, LBB staff produce thousands of fiscal notes throughout the legislative session, track certain state contracts, and the LBB School Performance Review Team reviews multiple school districts over the biennium. 

The LBB staff assist every legislator through critical research, and their work is a vital piece of the legislative process in Texas. They have established themselves as a trusted resource for the Texas Legislature, and their professionalism and quality of work has earned them the highest respect from members, leadership and their legislative staff peers around the country. 

National Association of Legislative Information Technology (NALIT)

Soren Jacobsen, IT Specialist, Legislative Services Office, Idaho Legislature 

Soren Jacobsen, IT specialist, Idaho Legislature, was selected as the 2023 National Association of Legislative Information Technology Legislative Staff Achievement Award recipient. 

Jacobsen has worked with the legislature for 20 years and is the main A/V and communications expert in the Idaho Legislature. He is known for going above and beyond to serve the legislature, whether it involves long hours or going into the office to solve unexpected issues. His work during and after the pandemic to make certain that audio visual and communications tools work when they are needed and his efforts to proactively improve systems are stellar. 

He served NALIT as secretary (2018-19), vice-chair (2019-21) and chair (2021-22) and his work to guide the Budget Surplus Committee in designing changes to the bylaws to reflect NALIT’s ongoing efforts to ensure funds are used to benefit the membership by providing the best possible training. He serves as chair of the NALIT Legislative Exchange Committee and as the lead member of NALIT’s Beta Testing Unit. He also serves as a discretionary appointment member of the NCSL Legislative Staff Coordinating Committee. 

He is always looking for the best ways to improve service to his legislature and to NALIT and a big part of both is that he connects with people from other legislatures to learn ways to help Idaho and NALIT to continue to change and grow. 

National Legislative Program Evaluation Society (NLPES)

Leslie McGuire, Director (retired), Georgia Department of Audits and Accounts 

NLPES is excited to award Leslie McGuire the NLPES Outstanding Achievement Award for 2023. A dedicated public servant, she devoted 28 years to the Georgia Department of Audits and Accounts, working to make a positive impact on government policy and operations and advance the field of performance auditing and program evaluation. She rose through the ranks taking on different roles while leading and managing performance audits across all policy areas.  

As director, the Performance Audit Division achieved marked success as evidenced by its high rate of recommendation implementation and return on the state's investment in performance auditing. Operationally, she worked to modernize the division by taking advantage of increased volumes of agency data and rapid technological changes. To meet 21st century challenges, she implemented numerous changes designed to develop staff and advance the quality and use of the work done by the division.  

Over the course of her career with the department, Leslie helped to advance the field of performance auditing and program evaluation. She was an active member of the National Legislative Program Evaluation Society, serving on the executive committee from 2005 to 2009. She was also involved in the National State Auditor's Association and a graduate of the Legislative Staff Management Institute, in addition to being a Certified Internal Auditor. On behalf of NLPES, congratulations to Leslie McGuire for this much deserved recognition. 

National Legislative and Security Staff Association (NLSSA)

Bradley Murfitt, Sergeant at Arms, Montana House of Representatives 

Bradley Murfitt serves as the sergeant-at-arms for the Montana House of Representatives, a post he has held for the past five legislative sessions. He graduated from the University of Montana School of Business Administration in 1989 with a bachelor’s degree in management. He also served as a command sergeant major in the Army National Guard from 1990 to 2013.

Each session, he personally selects and thoroughly trains his staff, empowering them to effectively assist the legislature from the swearing-in ceremony to sine die. He is committed to contributing to his professional association, the National Legislative Services & Security Association (NLSSA), where he has served as the region one chair since his election in 2021. In this role, he represents 16 U.S. states and territories as a voting member of the NLSSA Executive Board. He contributed countless hours and resources while helping host the 2021 NLSSA annual training conference in Helena, Mont. Under his leadership, the number of Montana legislative staff attending the NLSSA Annual Training Conference doubled from 2021 to 2022.

Claude McMillan, Assistant Director of Security for the Gressette Building, South Carolina Senate 

Claude McMillan started his career with the South Carolina Senate in September 1988. For the last 35 years, he has been involved with the day-to-day operations of providing security to the Senate, allowing the members and staff to safely carry out the legislative process. He is a graduate of the North Carolina Highway Patrol Executive Protection Academy and is a senior hostage negotiator. He has also served as a presenter for NLSSA regional meetings throughout the years.

He has been the primary firearms trainer for the S.C. Senate sergeant-at-arms office. This training includes yearly certifications for all of the officers. He has been instrumental in establishing policies and procedures for active shooter situations, firearms qualifications and executive protection protocols. He has also been influential in the introduction of the physical ability test in combination with firearm training. He he serves in a supervisory role for the S.C. Senate sergeant-at-arms office, as well as the supervisory agent charged with the protective detail for the chairman of the S.C. Senate Finance Committee. Previously, he was assigned to the first President of the S.C. Senate. Since January 2023, he has served as assistant director of security for the Gressette Building.

Research, Editorial, Legal and Committee Staff Association (RELACS)

Sarah Burkman, Senior Staff Attorney, Office of Bill Drafting and Research, Indiana Legislative Services Agency 

RELACS has selected Sarah Burkman, senior staff attorney, Office of Bill Drafting and Research, Indiana Legislative Services Agency, as the recipient of the 2023 Legislative Staff Achievement Award. 

Burkman has staffed the 21st Century Energy Policy Development Task Force and prepared interim and final reports, including the task force's legislative recommendations. She is a full-time bill drafter and has prepared most of the Uniform Commercial Code and financial institutions legislation considered by the Indiana General Assembly.  

As the senior LSA attorney working on energy, telecommunications, and utilities, she has drafted most of the more complex and significant bills introduced in these areas. She has an excellent rapport with committee chairs and ranking minority members as well as the Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission, the Department of Financial Institutions and stakeholders interested in these topics. Her work to define “money” and the issue of Central Bank Digital Currency in statute has created language other states may wish to use as a model in the future. 

She is known for her knowledge on energy, telecommunications, utilities, financial institutions, the UCC and consumer protection. She is also considered one of the most technically proficient and precise legislative drafters on the LSA staff. 

Amy Mendelsohn, Senior Counsel, Legislative Reference Bureau, Pennsylvania General Assembly 

RELACS has selected Amy J. Mendelsohn, senior counsel, Legislative Reference Bureau, Pennsylvania’s legislative drafting and publishing agency, as the recipient of the 2023 Legislative Staff Achievement Award. 

Mendelsohn serves as a drafting attorney, manages administrative law publications and runs the bureau’s intern program. Her work toward electronic publication of Pennsylvania’s administrative law materials, modernizing legal research, reducing cost and paper distribution have had a lasting and positive impact. As a member of the Executive Team, she contributes matters of personnel, purchasing and infrastructure. As the manager of the intern program, she places and supervises Pennsylvania law students with the bureau and sister legislative agencies. 

She is responsible for the publication of the State Code of Administrative Regulations, the Pennsylvania Code, the State Register and the Pennsylvania Bulletin. She maintains an operation which started more than 50 years ago, and has changed dramatically, including the need to digitize the materials for electronic publication. 

She took on the coordination of the health and safety aspects of the bureau’s COVID-19 operation, including overseeing compliance with federal and state guidelines, implementing sanitization, testing, reporting and quarantine procedures. She has also designed a reconfiguration of the physical plant for spacing, physical protection, and document handling. She engages in personal communication with affected employees and faces new challenges like a pro and has helped the bureau overcome the pandemic to maintain and improve its operation and adopt new practices for legal publishing and education. 

As a member of RELACS, she was instrumental in helping plan and execute the RELACS and LRL Professional Development Seminar in Harrisburg in 2018. 

Special Commendation: John Snyder, Committee Staff Administrator, Legislative Research Commission, Kentucky General Assembly 

The Research, Editorial, Legal and Committee Staff Association selects John Snyder, committee staff administrator, Legislative Research Commission, Kentucky, to receive the 2023 RELACS Special Commendation Award.  

Snyder has served the Kentucky Legislative Research Commission (LRC) for 34 years. He started with LRC as a program review analyst for the Program Review and Investigations Committee in 1989. He worked as an analyst for the Transportation Committee for seven years before becoming the Committee Staff Administrator (CSA). 

He is a dedicated public servant whose performance upholds the highest standards of professionalism and integrity. He always displays competency, professionalism, dedication, integrity and dignity.  

He serves as a mentor to new CSAs, analysts, secretaries and legislative assistants. He really cares about the future of legislative staffing and works closely with legislative intern coordinator Sheila Mason and each intern class she oversees. He has also serves as a sounding board to his peers and supervisors. 

He has used the opportunities provided by NCSL to network and interact with legislative staff from other states on ways to strengthen and uphold this branch of government, and to facilitate public dialogue and civic engagement. He is a 2013 Alumnus of NCSL’s Legislative Staff Management Institute. He has been a member of the NCSL Executive Committee since 2020, is a member of NCSL’s Natural Resources and Infrastructure Committee, was a general officer of the NCSL Standing Committees 2018-19 and has served NCSL and LSCC in multiple capacities since 2005.  

He is the chair of the RELACS Legislative Exchange Program and has guided the committee through decisions regarding participation in the program, selection of host states and candidates and creation of a confidentiality agreement. He has been a trusted advisor to RELACS officers for many years. 

His service to NCSL and the citizens of Kentucky is his legacy. He sets a high standard for professionalism and integrity. 

NCSL Standing Committees

Steven Hernández, Esq., Executive Director, The Commission on Women, Children, Seniors, Equity & Opportunity, Connecticut General Assembly 

Steven Hernández is executive of the Connecticut Commission on Women, Children, Seniors, Equity and Opportunity, a non-partisan agency of the Connecticut General Assembly. He previously served the Connecticut state legislature as director of public policy and research for the Connecticut Commission on Children. Prior to joining the commission, he served seven years as legislative and budget director in the office of Washington, D.C., Councilmember Jim Graham. Hernández served as a clerk to two judges in the District’s Court of Appeals and as a consultant to the Washington law firm Baker & Miller, PLLC. He received a bachelor’s degree from Bennington College in Vermont in 1995 and a Juris Doctor degree from the Washington College of Law at American University. 

 

Andrea Wilko, Chief Economist, Office of the Legislative Fiscal Analyst, Utah Legislature 

Andrea Wilko is the chief economist for the Utah Legislature, specializing in state revenue forecasting, economic development, tax analysis and helping the Legislature balance the state’s budget each year. As chief economist, Wilko collaborates with multiple state economic groups such as the Utah Revenue Assumptions Committee, the public education Common Data Committee, the Population Estimates Committee, and the Utah Economic Council. Wilko has previously served on the National Conference of State Legislature’s Executive Committee and is currently co-staff Chair of the NSCL Economic Development and Labor Standing Committee.  

She leads a team of three economists that support the Legislature through long-term planning efforts. These efforts include a series of rotating projects including budget stress testing, volatility analysis, tax change analysis, and long-term budget development.  

Wilko received a Ph.D., with an emphasis in economic development, from the University of Utah. Her research has been published in the Public Administration Review and various other state publications. Prior to working for the Legislature, she taught economics as Brigham Young University. She has worked as chief economist with the Office of the Legislative Fiscal Analyst for over 30 years.  

Legislative Education Staff Network (LESN)

Tanya Lieberman, Chief Consultant, Assembly Education Committee, California Legislature

Tanya Lieberman is chief consultant for the California Assembly Education Committee, covering issues related to special education, English learners and curriculum and instruction. Since starting in the Senate in 1996, she has served as education policy consultant to the Senate Education Committee, the Senate Committee on Budget and Fiscal Review, and the office of Sen. Jack O’Connell, and was deputy legislative secretary to Gov. Gray Davis. She served as a United Nations civilian peacekeeper and elections observer in Cambodia, South Africa, and Bosnia, and was a recipient of the Thomas J. Watson Fellowship. She is a former elementary school teacher in the Oakland Unified School District and holds a multiple subject teaching credential. She served as a co-chair of the LESN steering committee. 

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