Why I Love the Legislature | Lori Mathis

By Kae Warnock
Director of the Office of Operations and Support Systems, Maryland

Lori MathisGrowing up in Annapolis, Lori Mathis didn’t appreciate the beauty and history of the city until she came to work in Maryland’s State House, the oldest U.S. Capitol in continuous legislative use, dating to 1772.

When she graduated from high school, Mathis knew she wanted to work in public service, and the legislature seemed to be her destiny. In high school, her history teacher and basketball coach was Michael E. Busch, who would go on to become the longest serving House speaker in state history. (Busch died in April following several health challenges. He was 72.)

Mathis started with the legislature as a terminal operator and later became the supervisor in the bill-processing unit. “It certainly was good to know the culture and business processes and to watch automation and technology growth,” she says. During her 20-year tenure in bill processing, she also worked on her bachelor’s degree, then a master’s in management with an emphasis on human resources. Mathis did all of this while raising four children. “It was a lot to do, but I was determined to succeed,” she says.

In 2000, HR director Cathy Fiddes realized there was an opportunity for succession planning by bringing Mathis into the HR division. After about five years, Fiddes retired and Mathis became the director of HR.

As HR administrator, Mathis was responsible for developing personnel policy and procedures, advising on personnel issues and overseeing payroll for more than 1,100 employees. She thrives on “supporting employees, building relationships and ensuring fairness and uniformity by maintaining a nonpolitical HR environment.”

In her newly created role as director of the Office of Operations and Support Services, Mathis oversees human resources, finance, information systems, facilities, graphics and printing. She is responsible for providing training and initiating policy changes to create a culture that reflects the legislature’s values. She tries to get people to come out from behind their computers and have regular conversations because she feels interaction is important to a healthy workplace.

“I love the institution and attribute that to the leadership and, of course, great staff.”

When she is not at work, where might we find her? “You can probably find me relaxing near the water. I love to travel and spend time with my husband, four adult children (the youngest is now in college) and three grandchildren.”

Kae Warnock is a policy specialist in NCSL’s Legislative Staff Services Program, conducted this interview.

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