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Leadership Staff Professional Association Newsletter | Spring 2019

April 9, 2019

NCSL Leadership Staff Professional Association

Founded in 1975, the NCSL Staff Leadership Section (LSS) has about 410 legislative staff members. The purpose of LSS is to help staff become effective leaders and to provide a forum to share information. In an effort to expand our membership, LSS amended the bylaws to be more inclusive. LSS chair, Andrea Chiapella, Senior Policy Analyst for the Oregon Senate Minority Office, invites all young and new professional staff to join LSS.

One goal of LSS is to provide support for legislative staff in leadership roles and to prepare new staff to fill those roles. This electronic newsletter features articles on ethics, sexual harassment, the Legislative Staff Management Institute and much more. LSS hopes that you will enjoy our newsletter enough to become a member and/or a contributor.

Why I Participate in LSS

"I participate in LSS so that I may meet and get knowledge from my colleagues around the nation. When we get together, I always have my eyes opened to new ways to approach policies and learning about different legislative processes." —Danielle Baker, executive director, Acadian Legislative Delegation, La.

"The legislative environment is unique in the challenges that we face very day. Working in our field can often be isolating in its uniqueness, and without exposure to a variety of points of view and experiences, we can miss out on new ideas and developments that can impact future outcomes. I’m hoping to build a network of resources from the peers that I meet within LSS and they can become a valuable resource for referrals and best-practices in the future." —Terri Kondeff, chief operations officer, Legislative Services Office, Idaho

LSS PDS and Summit Activities

Join leadership, personal, caucus and administrative staff from across the nation in Nashville, Tenn., Aug. 4-5 to make connections and develop skills with peers and faculty who know work in the same unique legislative environment.

Network with other staffers while attending sessions covering a wide array of topics, from Ethics Pitfalls, Policy Speed Learning, Managing Leadership Change, and Member Training along with tours of the Tennessee State Capitol and State Museum. This PDS is held the day and a half before the annual NCSL Legislative Summit allowing attendees to attend both events without the need for separate travel and housing arrangements. Visit the 2019 LSS PDS Information Page for registration details and the agenda.

Along with the LSS Dutch Treat dinner Sunday evening, LSS will be co-hosting a wide array of sessions throughout the week. The dinner and sessions at Summit allow for networking and exchange of information with other legislative leadership, caucus and administrative staff from across the nation. Along with the LSS programming, staff-centered Summit sessions include: inspiring youth in the legislature, what I wish I knew when I started in the legislature, and how to sharpen your social media savvy.

Legislative Staff Achievement Awards: Nominations Open

The NCSL Leadership Staff Professional Association invites your nominations for the 2019 Legislative Staff Achievement Award. Legislative staff members are recognized each year for the important contributions they make to the legislative institution and process. Nominations can be made by state legislators or other legislative staff. Winners will be honored at the NCSL Legislative Summit in Nashville, Tenn., and awards will be presented at the NCSL Leadership Staff Section professional development seminar in Nashville, Tenn., Aug. 4-5.

A Legislative Staff Achievement Award nominee may be an individual, office, group or team whose contributions benefit the roles of leadership, caucus, office, administrative, or agency staff and should meet a significant number of the awards criteria. At least one of the awards is presented to an individual who has been an active participant in Leadership Staff Professional Association activities, as evidenced by attendance at the Association's annual training seminars and by other significant involvement with the Association. View the award criteria on the LSS webpage.

Nominations for the 2019 Leadership Staff Section Achievement Awards will be accepted through Friday, May 10, 2019. Please send nominations electronically or via mail to Megan McClure, NCSL Liaison to LSS:

Megan McClure
NCSL Liaison to LSS
7700 East First Place
Denver, CO 8230
(303) 856-1355

More information about the NCSL Leadership Staff Section can be found on the NCSL website.

LSS Officer Nominations Open

The Nominations Committee of the NCSL Leadership Staff Section (LSS) is seeking candidates for the LSS Executive Committee. The Executive Committee is composed of 13 members—the LSS Chair, First Vice Chair, Second Vice Chair, nine Directors elected by the membership, and the Immediate Past Chair.

Will you consider offering your time and talents to our great staff section by serving on the LSS Executive Committee? Elections will be held during our Business Meeting at the annual Professional Development Seminar in Nashville, Tenn. The Business Meeting is scheduled for Aug. 4.

Executive Committee members select a site and prepare the agenda for the annual LSS Professional Development Seminar, call special meetings of the full membership, appoint subcommittees and special committees, and determine the direction and actions of the Leadership Staff Section. LSS provides a forum for professional development for its members and interaction with counterparts in legislatures across the country.

To be considered for one of the Executive Committee positions or if you have any questions, please email your letter of intent to the NCSL liaison to LSS, Megan McClure.

Legislative Staff Management Institute: Apply Now

The Program and Professional Development Subcommittee of the Legislative Staff Coordinating Committee recommended to continue the contract for Legislative Staff Management Institute (LSMI) with the University of Southern California and Sacramento State University. The five-year contract will begin in 2020.

The Legislative Staff Management Institute is the premier seven-day leadership program offered to legislative staff to provide leadership and public management tools. The 29-year-old program offers one of the only leadership training courses exclusively for legislative staff in the country. If you haven’t participated in the program you are encouraged to apply. The application period for 2019 is closed. But keep this exclusive and unique professional development oppotunity in mind for next year!

Many LSS members are alumni of LSMI. Hear what they have to say about the program:

"I attended LSMI in 2018 and what a terrific experience! After a week immersed in a program that mixed expert presenters with equal parts team building, I feel I have gained tremendous insights on what real leadership looks like and how it applies to my job. I now have a binder full of tools at my disposal to look back on and a group of peers to reach out to for advice, ideas and inspiration." —Terri Kondeff, Idaho, LSMI alum 2018

LSMI was a fantastic experience with lasting impact. There was so much valuable content in the program and I find myself putting into practice the skills and strategies I learned on a nearly daily basis. The instructors were exceptional and the perspective and insights I received from my fellow classmates were equally important. LSMI is a must for any legislative leadership staff aiming to take their professional growth to the next level. —Chase Tedrow, Oregon, LSMI alum 2018

"LSMI provided an amazing opportunity to develop leadership and mentorship skills and how to implement that from a staffing perspective. It was an unparalleled opportunity to network with peers facing similar challenges and exchange ideas to problem-solve." —Courtney Enright, Alaska, LSMI alum 2018

LSCC Spring Update

By Sheron Violini, Calif. and Andrea Chiapella, Ore.

NCSL New Orleans NCSL Executive Committee Meeting Jan. 17-19

The meeting took place at Lowes Hotel, which was the official host hotel for the New Orleans Saints. Presentations included an in-depth discussion by Kittleman and Associates, who are assisting in the executive search for a new NCSL executive director. What impressed me about the process is how inclusive and exhausting it is to find just the right leader. They anticipate the final interviews will be in May with a goal to hire the new executive leader by June, and announce the hire soon afterward.

The Legislative Institutions Subcommittee discussed updating the NCSL code of conduct and Human Resources template for states to consider using as a guide.This is an ongoing project.

Following the meeting, game day was filled with excitement and disappointment. But many new friends were made and knowledge exchanged.

A great opportunity I have as LSS chair, is that both myself and first vice-chair Sheron Violini are ex-officio members of NCSL’s Legislative Staff Coordinating Committee (LSCC). We meet quarterly and are an advisory committee to the NCSL Executive Committee, which is made up of both legislators and staff. At these meetings we have robust discussions and help to make decisions in planning larger coordinated efforts.

In January, we were briefed and gave input on the process of recruiting a new executive director for NCSL. Our current executive director Bill Pound will soon be retiring and his shoes will be extremely difficult to fill. We had a great discussion about what traits we would value in an executive director and were able to provide guidance to the search. We also renewed the contract with the University of Southern California and Sacramento State for the Legislative Staff Management Institute after going through an RFP process and determining that USC and Sacramento State will continue to best serve our needs.

A couple of things to look forward to are speakers that legislative staff sections will be bringing to the annual Summit and, further on the horizon, planning for the “Super PDS” that will take place in Atlanta, Ga., in 2020. There we will be participating with a total of six associations to form the largest gathering of legislative staff since 2012. We decided to participate in a Super PDS in order to pool resources and offer exceptional programming for a multitude of staff. I always enjoy these kinds of gatherings and participating in LSCC helps bring new ideas and a better understanding of the bigger picture for LSS.

Learning Your Vulnerabilities: Ethics at the LSS PDS

By Mark Quiner, NCSL
(Mark will be presenting, "Maintaining Integrity in a Post Truth World" at the LSS PDS this August in Nashville, Tenn. One of LSS's favorite speakers, Mark will be at the LSS PDS for the third time in a row.)

We are living and working in very interesting times. Every day the press bombards us with stories of ethical challenges, moral failures and outright scandal. The bottom line is: Dirt sells. And lest we sit back and cluck our tongues in judgment over others, it is probably a better route to examine our own lives and discover where we may be vulnerable to ethical compromise or moral failure. In this session, we will look at some of those failures, see what occurred and how we can work to ensure that our values remain intact as we navigate ethically dangerous times.

I have recently been involved in the (dis)honesty project. As their website states:

“We are in a trust drought. Over the past 40 years, Americans have become significantly less trusting of each other and less confident in large institutions such as the news, government, and business. In 2018, the United States saw a 37-point drop in trust across all institutions, according to Edelman’s Trust Barometer, the largest recorded among the markets surveyed. With each passing scandal or corporate crisis, trust falls further.” You can find out about the project at

In the session, we will look at one of the examples of dishonesty and moral compromise. But more importantly, we will take a closer look at what happened, what we can learn from that, and most importantly, what we can do to avoid mistakes that could cost us our integrity. Please join us!

Sexual Harassment

By Selena Saucedo, NCSL

Sexual Harassment

The #MeToo and #TimesUp movements have drawn attention to the prevalence of sexual harassment in the workplace across many different industries, including entertainment, business and the government.

According to the Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 recognizes sexual harassment as a form of sex discrimination and applies to private employers with 15 or more employees, as well as government and labor organizations.

Although federal law says it is unlawful to harass a person because of that person’s sex, many state legislatures are looking to go beyond federal regulations to prevent workplace sexual harassment.

Sexual Harassment in the Workplace

State legislatures across the country are tackling the issue of sexual harassment as it pertains to the workforce. In 2017, California, Illinois, Maine and Oregon passed legislation aimed at combatting sexual harassment in the workplace and addressing certain worker populations.

In 2018, states passed sexual harassment legislation to coordinate and enforce workforce sexual harassment training requirements, impose penalties for all employers in the state and created a Sexual Harassment Hotline for people in the public or private sector to report sexual harassment. At least 20 states introduced legislation in 2018 that prohibits a confidentiality provision in a civil settlement agreement as it relates to sexual assault but does not specify sexual harassment.

Sixteen states have introduced legislation to limit or prohibit the use of nondisclosure provisions as they relate to sexual harassment: Alaska, Arizona, California, Florida, Indiana, Kansas, Maryland, New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Tennessee, Vermont, Virginia and Washington.

Sexual Harassment in the Legislature

State legislatures are addressing outdated sexual harassment policies through legislation and policy changes within the legislature as it pertains to legislators and the people that work at the legislature.

In 2018, states introduced an unprecedented amount of legislation on sexual harassment and sexual harassment policies. Thirty-two states introduced more than 125 pieces of legislation last session. States introduced sexual harassment legislation to expel members, criminalize sexual harassment in legislatures and mandate sexual harassment training within the legislature among other topics. Five states—California, Georgia, Illinois, Maryland and Maine—adopted or enacted legislation that applies to sexual harassment involving a lobbyist or third party.

Visit NCSL’s Addressing Sexual Harassment in the Workplace page for more information on sexual harassment legislation that pertains to all workplaces.

Timely Topics

News clippings and online articles tailored for staff interested in developing their leadership skills.

Can Government Organizations Really Be a Magnet for Talent?
Association for Talent Development highlights how the Tennessee state government is proving that it can.

How to Get Your To-Do List Done When You’re Always in Meetings
Harvard Business Review gives you some tips.

Workplace Trend: Stress Is On The Rise
Forbes discusses the effects a manager's stress can have on the whole office.

The 25 best new productivity apps for 2019
Fast Company runs down a list of new apps to keep you at the top of your productivity game.

Getting Ready to Redistrict?

It’s almost time to redraw districts—and it’s definitely time to plan for it.

Just as we have done for the past several decades, NCSL has slated five intensive redistricting seminars, to prepare you and your team for this once-a-decade task. Constitutionally mandated redistricting is an extraordinarily complex undertaking for legislators, staff and others, so learning the law, process and technology well in advance is vital.

Can't make one of the seminars? Check out the NCSL Redistricting Starter Kit for Legislative Staff

Shoutout to Recognize Your Colleagues

Give a colleague a shout-out and win! Not only is that staff member recognized on our website, but you’ll both be entered into a drawing for one of two Amazon Echo Dots! And there will be a very special prize for staff in the state that receives the most shout-outs! Get a jump start and begin submitting shout outs today.

Legislative Staff Training Resources

Training new staff can present myriad challenges and logistical issues. How do you train someone when you already have your plate full with your daily duties? How do you train staff in the middle of a session? Or on a shoestring or nonexistent budget? Below is a list of NCSL resources to help you train new and old staff without overstretching your time, ability and budget!

Archived Webinars

  • De-escalation Techniques for the Legislature: This webinar focuses on de-escalation techniques to consider when dealing with potentially violent people you may encounter within and outside the legislature.
  • Sexual Harassment Prevention: Legislatures across the country are taking a renewed look at their anti-sexual harassment policies and procedures. Hear from two legal experts on the best way to approach this difficult topic.
  • Be the Change: Culture, Leadership and Self Reflection: Working in the legislature can be intense with long hours, looming deadlines and competing priorities. Patrick Sullivan, director of Montana's State Professional Development Center, is an expert on how to prevent this hectic environment from leading to a siloed team. Whether you are a new or veteran staffer, join us for this webinar to learn more about the context of the inward mindset as it applies to workplace culture and how you can have an impact on the effectiveness of your team.
  • Speaking with Authority: This professional development webinar, co-hosted by NCSL's Young and New Professionals (YNP) group and Women's Legislative Network, aims to help participants learn to increase self-awareness and personal brand when communicating daily. Whether you are a legislator headed into session or a legislative staffer gearing up for January, we all need to be concise, clear and credible. Ditch those phrases and words that undermine your authority and replace them with words that have impact, making you the expert.
  • Keys to Effective and Engaging Presentations: Presenting complex information to colleagues and policymakers in a concise manner is a challenge—whether you have an hour or 10 minutes. Learn from communications coach Marianna Swallow the steps to delivering an effective presentation and speaking like a pro. She shares the keys to designing an effective presentation, tips to revise and sharpen your talk, and strategies to make your delivery compelling.

Upcoming Webinars

  • NCSL Bill Information Service: For legislators and legislative staff only (this webinar is held on a monthly basis as an introduction to the NCSL Bill Information Service)


  • Tackling Sexual Harassment in the Legislature: Responding to sexual harassment, spurred primarily by the #metoo movement, has been in the forefront of every sector—including government. In this episode, we talk with three experts to get a sense of what changes are happening in state legislatures and to find out what types of best practices they should consider.
  • Brain Science for Legislators and Staff: Working in the legislative arena is not always easy. There are long hours, long stretches of sitting at a desk, a need to multitask and often a lack of sleep. Stacy Householder of the NCSL shares six brain rules designed to help legislators and legislative staff be more effective. Her recommendations are based on research and its relevance for those working in legislative chambers.

Magazine Articles

  • Reorient Your To-Do List to Unlock Your Productivity Potential: The start of a new legislative session offers the chance for a fresh start. To do things differently this time around, to create new (ideally good!) habits and routines. To make better use of time with the hope of feeling slightly less depleted at the end of the session.
  • Yes, No, Maybe So: Monthly feature on ethics questions pertaining to state legislatures.


  • Listen Up! Learn the Skills of Good Listening: By focusing only on what you’re saying, chances are good that you’re not hearing.
  • Who's Rules are They Anyway? Legislatures may turn to several sources when making parliamentary interpretations—for example, their state constitutions, chamber rules and statutes. These documents do not always cover every parliamentary nuance that a chamber may face, however.
  • Sexual Harassment Policies and Interns: Legislatures around the country are grappling with the issue of sexual harassment—but how are interns protected by state policy? Several internship administrators were asked what guidelines and resources are available to student interns.

Other Resources

  • Govloop Training Resources: NCSL has selected 10 videos on a range of topics that you may find helpful. Govloop also has a wide variety of reports, webinars, blogs and other material you may find useful.


Megan McClure, senior staff assistant
NCSL Liaison to the Leadership Staff Professional Association
303-856-1355 |

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