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American Society of Legislative Clerks and Secretaries (ASLCS)
Scott Kaiser

Scott Kaiser

Assistant Secretary, Illinois Senate

Scott Kaiser grew up in central Illinois and received a B.A. degree in political science from the University of Illinois Springfield in 1988. He was selected for the Illinois Legislative Staff Internship Program in 1988 and served as a legislative policy analyst for the Senate from 1988-1996. From 1997-1999 he served as deputy director of legislative affairs for Gov. Jim Edgar. In 1999 he was appointed assistant to the president of Southern Illinois University where he had responsibilities in government, community and media relations. In July 2004 he was elected assistant secretary of the senate for the remainder of the 93rd General Assembly. He has been re-elected assistant secretary of the Senate for each of the past 10 General Assemblies. Scott and his wife, Julie, have two children and live in Chatham.

Sherry Rodriguez

Sherry Rodriguez

Assistant Secretary, Nevada Senate

Sherry Rodriguez has been assistant secretary of the Nevada Senate since 2006. She has worked in state government since 2001 in positions including secretary for the Senate Committee on Government Affairs and secretary for the Senate Committee on Transportation. In addition to her state service, she served as deputy coroner for the Carson City Sheriff’s Department from 2010 until 2015. 

Born and raised in Southern California, she attended Ambassador Christian High School and Cypress College before earning her business management certifications from the University of California, Los Angeles.

She and her family have lived in northern Nevada since 1998.

In her own words: “I am blessed to have an amazing career and grateful to have been given the opportunity to serve our Legislature and the citizens of Nevada in so many ways.”

Leadership Staff Professional Association (LSPA)
Debra Childs

Debra Childs

Deputy Chief of Staff, Speaker's Office, New Hampshire House of Representatives 

Debra Childs began her legislative staff service as deputy chief of staff in December 2020, in what would be tumultuous times for the New Hampshire House of Representatives. Following the passing of newly elected Speaker and personal friend, Dick Hinch, Debra was thrust into the busiest time of the legislative term, needing to quickly assimilate in order to meet the demands of the institution and her position.

She brought years of private sector senior management, non-profit management, and entrepreneurial experience and quickly identified ways to do things bettering the Speaker's office. She has been a resource for continuous improvements within the office and throughout legislative operations. She has developed systems to manage the body's appointment process for over 200 committees and commissions. She has developed internal policies that help us better serve the needs of our members. She has worked with our technology services team to develop new tools for staff to utilize to help streamline processes. She has developed valuable documentation to ensure continuity in services in the event of a transition of staff or administrations.

She is a team leader and has earned the respect and gratitude of staff and elected members from across the institution. She selflessly endures a long commute and works at all hours of the day and night to make sure the work is done. She is often the first one in the office and the last to leave. Her job extends beyond the office walls but she willingly fields communications at all hours to ensure that all members and staff have the tools and resources they need to do their job to their best ability.

She is a frequent participant in NCSL events where she embraces all opportunities to learn and grow into her role as deputy chief of staff. She has traveled to multiple conferences where she has been able to share her experiences working with New Hampshire’s 400 House members.

She did not seek out legislative employment but heeded the call to public service when recruited to serve in her current position. She has been indispensable to the institution; to our House members, legislative staff and to the People of New Hampshire. She is an exemplary legislative staff leader and I nominate her for this award with the highest accolades.

Sara Kalaoram

Sara Kalaoram

Chief of Staff, Office of the Speaker, Nevada State Assembly

Sara Kalaoram is an accomplished government strategist currently serving as chief of staff to Steve Yeager,  the Speaker of the Nevada Assembly. With a diverse background in political roles, including communications director for the Assembly Democrats and campaign manager, she brings a unique perspective to her leadership position. Her experience extends to working with one of Nevada's largest unions in research, communications, and political operations.

A graduate of Arizona State University, she is recognized as the first Asian American woman to hold the role of chief of staff in Nevada and is among the youngest in both state and congressional government service. Her dedication to intentional policy-making and innovative leadership has been pivotal in ensuring home means Nevada to all.

Legislative Information and Communications Staff (LINCS)
Paige Stevens

Paige Stevens

Legislative Assistant, Utah Senate 

Paige Stevens graduated magna cum laude with a composite B.A. in social and behavioral sciences from Weber State University. She was selected for a legislative internship with Senate Majority Whip Ann Millner. She was later hired to work for the Utah Senate fulltime and assists seven majority senators in her role as legislative assistant. Her favorite aspects of the role are those tasks which fall into the “other duties as assigned” job description. Her seven assigned senators are her greatest mentors, and she feels honored each day to contribute to such an impactful and historic work environment at the Utah Legislature.

Casey Rife

Casey Rife

Communications Director, Ohio Senate Minority Caucus 

Casey Rife serves as the communications director for the Ohio Senate Democratic Caucus. She first began working in the state legislature as a Senate Page while completing her undergraduate degrees. As a candidate in Ohio State University’s Master of Public Administration program, she began working full time in the Ohio Senate as a legislative fellow. She was hired as deputy communications director before being promoted to her current role. She holds bachelor’s degrees in environmental science and global studies from Otterbein University in addition to her MPA. She is enthusiastic about public service, comprehensive policy solutions that work toward equity and justice, and finding creative ways to communicate how what goes on in the legislature impacts constituents across Ohio.

Legislative Research Librarians (LRL)
Jessica Lundgren

Jessica Lundgren

Director, Law & Legislative Reference Library, Maine Legislature 

Jessica Lundgren serves as the director of the Law & Legislative Reference Library for the state of Maine. With a career that spans both nonprofit organizations and the private sector, she brings a wealth of diverse experience to her current role. Before joining the Maine Legislature, she dedicated half of her professional life to nonprofit work. She has been committed to the Maine Legislature for the past nine years, where her leadership has significantly enhanced the operations and services of the Law & Legislative Reference Library. She holds, a bachelor’s in history with a concentration in secondary education from American University, earned in 2002, and a master of library and information service from Rutgers University, completed in 2010. Her academic background and professional journey reflect a strong commitment to education, research, and public service.

National Association of Legislative Fiscal Offices (NALFO)
Michigan Senate Fiscal Agency

Michigan Senate Fiscal Agency

For over 50 years, the Michigan Senate Fiscal Agency staff have provided nonpartisan support and research to Michigan Senate staff and members. The agency provides summaries and analysis of all legislation being considered by the Senate, and pairs that information with expert analysis and research. In addition to bill analysis, the agency also produces economic projections, and helps put Michigan’s economy in context with the broader U.S. economy. Senate Fiscal Agency summaries become public, allowing everyone to benefit from their expertise.

The agency’s nonpartisanship and consistent research and analysis has earned them respect on both sides of the aisle. Their support allows legislators to navigate complex fiscal topics and helps members feel confident they are making informed decisions for the state of Michigan.

Senate Fiscal Agency staff also provide vital information for all staff in the Michigan Senate. Their unbiased information and historical context are a benefit to all Michigan staff, and they have earned a reputation for excellence and customer service.

National Association of Legislative Information Technology (NALIT)
Johnathan Harris

Johnathan Harris

Deputy Director/Chief Information Officer, Legislative Research Commission, Kentucky General Assembly 

Johnathan Harris began his work for the Legislative Research Commission (LRC) of the Kentucky General Assembly in 2014 as a software engineer and became the legislature’s software development manager in 2022. In 2023, he was named deputy director/chief information officer. During his tenure with the LRC, he has written or maintained many applications and consistently strives to improve their efficiency.  

A few years after joining the LRC, he became the bill drafting development lead and found ways to make that application better. One of his projects was to rewrite the application that developers run to produce documentation of actions that occur in each chamber for each legislative day. That application affects numerous processes throughout the legislature and used to be time-consuming until his rewrite made it easy and quick to use. 

He was accepted to the Staff Academy for Government Excellence (SAGE) in 2020 and the Legislative Staff Management Institute (LSMI) in 2021.

He took on a leadership role with NALIT several years ago. As a key member of the NALIT testing group his worked help NALIT and NCSL to roll out the new Breezio communication platform now used by all staff associations, committees and many others. He served on the executive committee as a director 2021-23. He served as vice chair from 2023-24 and will become chair of NALIT at the NCSL Legislative Summit on Aug. 5. 

Amber Snyder

Amber Snyder

Office Support Team Lead, Computer Support Center, Legislative Council, Texas Legislature 

Amber Snyder joined the Texas Legislative Council (TLC) in 1994 and has worked in numerous roles over the last 30 years. She currently leads a team of seven desktop-support office consultants tasked with providing first- and second-level support to all 181 members of the Texas Legislature and their staff. For much of her career, her main responsibility was to provide desktop support to the Office of the Speaker, and her team provides direct floor support for the House Chamber during session.

She is a leader, a mentor and juggernaut of insuring that the Texas legislative process runs smoothly, and that the members and staff have the tools they need to be successful. Her team directly interacts with legislative members in both chambers and acts as a liaison between the Texas Legislative Council and the legislature. 

Recently, she was integral in the setting up the logistics of the modernization into a "mobile legislature" after the pandemic, a project that spanned several months and thousands of miles of equipment deployment. She has also played key roles in the Correspondence Management System rewrite that allows legislators to maintain record of correspondence from constituents and track casework on legislative issues that are important to them.

She has been a longstanding member of NALIT and recently completed her term as a director on the executive committee. She served as the Texas Host State Chair for NALIT 2023, the largest NALIT conference to date, and continues to offer assistance with meeting planning. She presented at the NALIT Professional Development Seminar for the last four years

She is a graduate of Brigham Young University and is a member of the Help Desk Institute.

National Legislative Program Evaluation Society (NLPES)
Keenan Konopaski

Keenan Konopaski

Legislative Auditor (retired), Joint Legislative Audit and Review Committee, Washington State Legislature

During his 32 years in public service, Keenan Konopaski displayed a commitment to rigorous, nonpartisan analyses that benefited the legislature and people of Washington. He led the state’s Joint Legislative Audit and Review Committee (JLARC) as legislative auditor from 2011 to 2023. He fostered a culture of excellence to carry out JLARC’s mission of providing independent, objective, and credible answers to questions about government performance. He improved the efficiency and effectiveness of state government. State agencies implemented over 90% of the 175 recommendations issued under his leadership. These recommendations span nearly every facet of state government and include some of the most pressing issues faced by the Legislature.

He was an innovator in the legislative performance auditing field. He led JLARC in in developing one of the nation’s first state-level systematic reviews of tax preferences, led JLARC’s shift to producing online reports that feature interactive graphics and other tools, and led JLARC in implementing its mandate to include racial equity analyses in its audits.  He actively shared JLARC’s challenges and successful strategies with NLPES peer offices charged with similar assignments.

He continues to advance the field by training the next generation of public servants as an adjunct professor at Evergreen State College and St. Martin’s University. Keenan and his wife (who worked as an executive branch agency director) are the proud parents of two adult children and two grandkids—all of whom have been subjected to numerous dinner table conversations on public policy and administration.

National Legislative Services and Security Association (NLSSA)
Ronnie McGirt

Ronnie McGirt

Agent/Deputy Sergeant at Arms, South Carolina General Assembly

It is said that the success of a career is a reflection of commitment to excellence. There are no truer words that describe the career of Charles “Ronnie” McGirt. He began his professional path in South Carolina state government in the late 1970’s. Before joining the Senate sergeant-at-arms’ staff, he worked as a dispatcher for both the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources and the Richland County Sheriff’s Department, as well as spending time at the South Carolina Department of Social Services.

He joined the South Carolina Senate in October of 1990 as a Deputy sergeant-at-arms. Over the course of his 34 years with the Senate, he has served in numerous roles to include defensive tactics instructor, trained hostage negotiator, and certified emergency medical technician. He also served and now mentors as the training coordinator for the South Carolina Senate sergeant-at- arms office maintaining the staff’s yearly certification with the South Carolina Criminal Justice Academy. He recently served as co-director of security of the L. Marion Gressette Building. In 2022, he transitioned to assisting the sergeant-at-arms with the day-to-day responsibilities of the president of the Senate.

As a trained black belt, he gives back to the community providing free self-defense seminars and mentors students at karate schools throughout the local area. In his spare time, he enjoys listening to music and playing the guitar.He is also an avid tennis enthusiast.

The dedication and selfless service he continues to provide to the South Carolina Senate brings great credit upon himself and the state of South Carolina.

It is an honor and a privilege to nominate Charles “Ronnie” McGirt for the NCSL Legislative Staff Achievement Award.

Louis Carral

Louis Carral

Sergeant at Arms, Louisiana Senate

Louis Carral worked for the Louisiana Office of State Buildings for 35 years before briefly retiring. He returned to the State Capitol to work for the Senate Security team and was elected as the Sergeant-at-Arms for the Louisiana Senate by the new Governor’s Administration and the Louisiana Senate body in 2024.

NCSL Standing Committees
Raysa Martinez Kruger

Raysa Martinez Kruger

Principal Research Analyst, Office of Legislative Service, New Jersey Legislature 

Raysa Martinez Kruger is a principal research analyst with the New Jersey State Legislature’s nonpartisan Office of Legislative Services (OLS). With over 20 years of experience at OLS, she conducts public policy research, drafts legislation, writes research memos and white papers, and staffs a standing reference committee of the New Jersey Senate. She works in the areas of elections and redistricting and introduced the use of Geographic Information Systems (GIS) at OLS to answer selected policy questions. She has served with NCSL in various capacities. Her work on GIS applications for policy led to an invitation by NCSL to develop and deliver an educational webinar. She currently serves on NCSL’s Elections and Redistricting Standing Committee and the Legislative Staff Coordinating Committee.

She holds a B.S. in human ecology, and M.A. and Ph.D. degrees in geography, all from Rutgers University.

KC Norwalk

KC Norwalk

Deputy Director, Office of Bill Drafting and Research, Legislative Services Agency, Indiana General Assembly 

KC Norwalk is deputy director of the Office of Bill Drafting and Research at Indiana's Legislative Services Agency (LSA). Norwalk first started working at LSA in 2001 as a senior staff attorney. He became a deputy director in 2014. He drafts legislation in areas including constitutional law, gaming, alcohol, and criminal law. He also staffs the House Commerce Committee, trains new attorneys, and coordinates LSA's externship program. He also is a member of the Legislative Staff Coordinating Committee of NCSL and previously served on NCSL’s Executive Committee. Prior to working for LSA, he was a deputy attorney general with the Indiana Attorney General's Office working in the appellate and government litigation sections. He graduated from Notre Dame Law School in 1997 and Boston College in 1993. Finally, he is an adjunct professor at Indiana University's McKinney School of Law and created and teaches a class on legislation.

Research, Editorial, Legal and Committee Staff (RELACS)
Pierce Lively

Pierce Lively

Senior Attorney, Office of Legislative Legal Services, Colorado General Assembly

When Pierce Lively joined the Office of Legislative Legal Services (OLLS) in the fall of 2018, the subject matter team had a combined 115 legislative sessions under their belt. Since then, that team has seen a tremendous loss of subject matter expertise, and institutional knowledge. Despite these challenges, Lively has rapidly ascended from a line legislative staff attorney to the senior non-supervisory member of the team, showcasing exceptional bill drafting skills, mentorship, and dedication.

He consistently "exhibits a high degree of professionalism, competence, and integrity" in serving the legislature and the public. He drafts some of the state's most technically complex and high-profile bills with accuracy, speed, and a positive attitude. 

His expertise allows him to harmonize often unclear and conflicting policy goals from various stakeholders, including the Governor's office, Executive branch officials and bill sponsors, all under significant time pressure.
He drafted several major pieces of legislation, including property tax relief, during the 2023 special session. During the 2024 regular session, he played a crucial role in drafting a major portion of the affordable housing/land use package and the comprehensive property tax relief bill, both of which garnered broad support after extensive negotiations.

He coordinates work for the Joint Budget Committee and its separate nonpartisan staff agency and responds to legal questions from members and staff. He conducts training sessions for newly hired attorneys, mentors new attorneys, and assists colleagues across the office. In 2021, he played a lead role in the nonpartisan legal staff for the Colorado Independent Redistricting Commissions, redrawing Colorado's House of Representatives districts.

His remarkable rise, expertise, and dedication make him a tremendous asset to the Office of Important Stuff and the entire legislative branch.

Erica Warren

Erica Warren

Assistant Reviser of Statutes, Legislative Research Commission, Kentucky General Assembly 

Erica Warren has served the Kentucky General Assembly for more than 20 years, including service as an analyst and bill drafter with the Elections and Constitutional Amendments Committee, and as the staff administrator for the Veterans, Military Affairs, and Public Protection Committee. In her current role as an assistant reviser of statutes, she helps to train bill drafters, reviews drafts and amendments prior to introduction, oversees the enrolling and engrossing process, and assists in codification of the Kentucky Revised Statutes. She has served as an integral part of the team that reviews every piece of legislation considered by the Kentucky General Assembly. In a job that requires diligence, intelligence, and precision, she stands out among her cohorts as someone who always makes the drafts she reviews better, and drafters across the agency deeply appreciate her professionalism and expertise.

In addition to her duties with the Kentucky General Assembly, she has provided active and loyal service the Research, Editorial, Legal, and Committee (RELACS) Professional Staff Association of NCSL. Her service on committees for many years and then on the RELACS Executive Committee as a director from 2018-2021 and when she was elected vice chair in 2021, culminating in her term as RELACS chair in 2022-23. Her work helping guide RELACS members through a time of incredible change and upheaval in the way the job of a legislative staffer was done was pivotal to the success of the organization. She currently serves on the NCSL Executive Committee and on the Legislative Staff Coordinating Committee, in keeping with her history of supporting legislative staff.

RELACS Special Commendation Award Recipient
Raúl Burciaga

Raúl Burciaga

Director, Legislative Council Service, New Mexico Legislature  

The New Mexico Legislative Council appointed Raúl Burciaga as the director of the Legislative Council Service (LCS) in 2010. He has primary responsibility for administration of the LCS, the nonpartisan bill drafting and legal research agency of the New Mexico Legislature. Additionally, he is responsible for the control, care, custody and maintenance of the State Capitol, the grounds and other legislative buildings.

He joined the LCS in July 2000 after graduating from the University of New Mexico School of Law. 

He has worked as staff on impeachment investigation committees and legislative ethics committees. He served as the LCS assistant director for drafting services from 2004 until 2010.

He is a member of the New Mexico Compilation Commission, which oversees the compilation and publishing of New Mexico laws, and is a member of the national Uniform Law Commission, which recommends uniform laws for states to consider enacting. He completed the NCSL’s Legislative Staff Management Institute at the Hubert H. Humphrey Institute of Public Affairs, University of Minnesota in 2004 and the Council of State Government’s Henry Toll Fellowship Program in Lexington, Ky., in 2012.

He was host state chair for the RELACS Professional Development Seminar held in Santa Fe in 2019, the largest meeting in the group’s history. He is active with NCSL including serving on the RELACS Executive Committee from 2010-14, five years on the NCSL Executive Committee, including serving as NCSL staff vice chair 2015-16 and NCSL staff chair 2016-17. He served on the Foundation for State Legislatures Board 2015-22 and the NCSL Task Force On International Relations 2019-23.

Legislative Education Staff Network (LESN)
David Epley

David Epley

Senior Legislative Research Analyst, Iowa House Democratic Caucus

David Epley was born and raised in Iowa. He got his start in politics as an intern and canvasser with the Iowa Citizen Action Network in 1987, and graduated from Simpson College in Indianola, Iowa, in 1988 with a bachelor’s degree in speech communications and public relations, then worked as field staff or campaign manager for various campaigns including the Iowa Democratic Party and National Abortion Rights Action League. From 1991-1993, he was the administrative director for the Linn County Democrats, including organizing 77 caucuses in Linn County. 

In October 1997, he began working for the Iowa House Democratic Research Staff.  He has staffed the Education Committee since 2011.  He currently holds the title of senior research analyst and staffs the committees of Education, Education Budget, Education Reform, Local Government and the Administrative Rules Review Committee.  

He helped develop legislation for Choice of Doctor, Fair Share, Prevailing Wage, Open Scope Collective Bargaining, Establishing the Grow Iowa Values (business assistance program), the 2007 minimum wage increase, the Ed Reform bills of 2013 and 2014, CTE Reform Act of 2016, Food Shaming Act, student concussion protocols, LEAD K (for Deaf students), dyslexia legislation, suicide prevention, expanding preschool, the teacher pay raise of 2024, and various student financial assistance programs. 

He is active in the Indianola First United Methodist Church, the Executive and Central Committee of the Warren County Democrats, and in the past been involved with Habitat for Humanity. He loves baseball—his knowledge in the dugout and skills on the diamond helped lead the Iowa Democrats to their first win over Iowa Republicans in the state’s annual Legislative Slow Pitch Softball game! He and his wife, Barbara, have raised four children and live in Indianola.

Online Democracy Award
Online Democracy Award Winner

New Mexico Legislature’s website

nmlegis.gov

The New Mexico Legislature’s website was awarded the 2024 Online Democracy Award for having an exceptional legislative website.

NCSL's Online Democracy Award is presented annually to a legislature, legislative chamber or caucus whose website makes democracy user-friendly in an outstanding way. The winning website is chosen by a committee of legislative staffers who evaluate each site’s design, content and technological integration.

New Mexico’s Legislative Council Service was recognized for creating a website that emphasizes easy useability for all citizens. The Online Democracy Award Committee praised the website for focusing on ADA accessibility by providing a tool that modifies the pages to the users' needs.

The Online Democracy Award is sponsored by two of NCSL's legislative staff associations: the National Association of Legislative Information Technology and the Legislative Information and Communications Staff.

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