Research, Editorial, Legal and Committee Staff Legislative Staff Achievement Awards

2/1/2022

Legislative Staff Achievement Award

Julie Pelegrin, deputy director of the Office of Legislative Legal Services (OLLS), Colorado General Assembly

RELACS has selected Julie Pelegrin, Deputy Director of the Office of Legislative Legal Services (OLLS), Colorado General Assembly as the recipient of the 2022 Legislative Staff Achievement Award.

She has championed the core values of nonpartisanship and personal integrity while maintaining her signature sense of humor and unflappable grace. Through her dedication, high standards, hard work and complete selflessness, Julie inspires her team every day to be better nonpartisan legislative staffers.

Some of the initiatives she has taken for Colorado include starting a "buddy" program for newly elected legislators, drafting critical House and Senate rules and legislation to facilitate remote participation in the legislative process by legislators, staff, and members of the public. She deftly drafted a 500-page bill introduced this session that created a state department of early childhood. She worked tirelessly for over a year on the bill, participating in numerous stakeholder meetings and drafting multiple versions and amendments to reach the version that had final passage just weeks ago.

"Julie Pelegrin has served the state of Colorado for three decades as an attorney and universally respected drafter, shaping legislators’ ideas into law. Her faithful service can not be overstated - she has become the leading expert in Colorado’s education law, a mentor to dozens, and a friend to many more. She has impacted the lives of every child in Colorado for the better, and I'm truly grateful for her leadership and service to the state." said Colorado Speaker of the House, Alec Garnett.

Her longstanding contribution to NCSL has included serving on the NCSL Education Committee, the Education Staff Network, and two terms on NCSL’s Executive Committee.

She is one of the founders of the Research, Editorial, Legal and Committee Staff association. (RELACS), worked with that team to draft the bylaws and design the initial leadership team. She has taught countless continuing legal education classes for RELACS and NCSL.

Wendy Jackson, administrative services manager, Wisconsin Legislative Reference Bureau (LRB)

Wendy Jackson, administrative services manager, Wisconsin Legislative Reference Bureau (LRB), was selected as the RELACS recipient of the Legislative Staff Achievement Award. Her contribution to the work of her legislature and to RELACS have been outstanding.

She supervises more than a dozen staff and serves as the principal editor for all legislative documents produced by the LRB, from bill drafts to legislative enactments to research documents to the Wisconsin Statutes and Administrative Code. With Wendy in charge, editing tasks were consolidated and streamlined—the editing staff was expanded and professionalized, staff morale increased, quality control mechanisms were established, and legislative documents production moved entirely to a digital format. During the pandemic, her innovations in revamping the LRB editing and publishing processes were key to LRB’s success when virtually all LRB attorneys, analysts, and editors worked remotely from home. High quality and timeliness are essential to success in the legislative environment, and she exemplifies those traits. LRB editors now see themselves not simply as legislative employees, but rather as part of a larger vocation that is practiced across all state legislatures.

She is one of the founders of the Research, Editorial, Legal and Committee Staff association (RELACS), and worked to draft the bylaws and design the initial leadership team. She has also been active in designing webinars and guiding work on the staff association newsletter. As a member of LSCC, Wendy’s work as the editor of “State Legislatures and Litigation: A Toolkit” was critical to the success of the project.

2022 RELACS Special Commendation Award

John Fellows, general counsel, Office of Legislative Research and general counsel, Utah Legislature

The Research, Editorial, Legal and Committee Staff Association selects John Fellows, general counsel, Office of Legislative Research and general counsel, Utah Legislature to receive the RELACS Special Commendation Award.

He has been a driving force behind the professionalization of the Office of Legislative Research and General Counsel. His efforts have included improving the quality and expanded scope of legal services, the creation of a career track for legal staff, and the development of a positive staff culture. He is known as a practical problem solver who combines top notch legal acumen with common sense and a keen political mind to find ways forward on difficult legal and policy issues. He has had a deep dedication to and respect for the legislature as an institution. He has a keen ability to proactively prepare and plan for any challenges that it may face.

He is recognized as an expert in election law, legislative process, legislative rule, and a variety of other subject areas and is  highly respected by legislators and his colleagues not just for his legal mind, but for his kindness and sincerity.

He has been an active participant in and supporter of NCSL over many years, both with the Legal Services Staff Section (LSSS) and later with the Research, Editorial, Legal and Committee Staff (RELACS). His bill drafting courses and a very successful session on legislative investigations are highlights of RELACS meetings. He served as a member of the LSSS executive board for two nonconsecutive terms and taught the bill drafting course of the NCSL Skills Development Seminar for many years.

 

RELACS LSAA Criteria

All members of the Research, Editorial, Legal and Committee Staff association (RELACS) are eligible for this award. Examples of accomplishments recognized by RELACS for the Legislative Staff Achievement Award include the following:

  • Exhibiting a high degree of professionalism, competence, and integrity in serving the legislature and the public.
  • Helping to improve the effectiveness of the legislative institution.
  • Supporting the legislative process and the mission of the legislature.
  • Contributing to the work of the National Conference of State Legislatures or the Research, Editorial, Legal and Committee Staff association.
  • Demonstrating expertise in a particular field.
  • Contributing to existing knowledge.

Nominations should briefly address how the nominee meets the above criteria.

See past winning members.

Make a Nomination

Send nominations by Friday, May 6, 2022, to the NCSL liaison to RELACS: Kae Warnock. RELACS honorees will be recognized at the “Salute to Legislative Staff” event during NCSL’s Legislative Summit (Aug. 1-3, 2022 – Denver, Colo.).

Thank you for considering the nomination of a deserving RELACS member!

Additional Resources