2023 Award Recipient(s)
Brian Colleran, Senior Policy Advisor to the Speaker, 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.
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.