2014 Kevin B. Harrington Award


NCSL NewsNevada Senate Secretary David Byerman Awarded National Trust for Representative Democracy's Kevin B. Harrington Award

Minneapolis—David Byerman, who serves as Secretary of the Nevada Senate, received the Kevin B. Harrington Award for Excellence in Democracy Education at the National Conference of State Legislatures’ (NCSL) 2014 Summit this month in Minneapolis. Sponsored by NCSL’s Trust for Representative Democracy, the award recognizes an individual or organization for advancing public understanding of state and local representative democracy.

Harrington, the founding president of NCSL, was dedicated to improving citizens’ understanding of American democracy. Byerman received the honor for exemplifying the same passionate commitment to excellence in democracy education.

“Clerks and secretaries across the country have an opportunity to be so much more than just administrative officers,” Byerman said. “We have the opportunity to be champions of the democratic process.”

Byerman has pioneered numerous democracy education programs including uLegislate, a lawmaking simulation that has brought more than 750 Nevadans into the Senate Chamber, and Channel 21, a network delivering information about the legislative process to constituents across the state. In addition, he serves as executive director of the Nevada Youth Legislature, a group of students appointed by their senators to represent the state’s young people.  

“So many of these educational programs have broken new ground in Nevada and could not have happened without the trust of our senators and the hard work of our Senate staff,” Byerman said. “While I am honored to accept this award individually, I share this honor with our hard-working Senate employees and with the public servants who have supported me to make this vision a reality.”

“David Byerman is a creative, out-of-the-box thinker who strives to keep our Senate relevant to the community through technology and communication tools,” said Nevada Assistant Majority Leader Debbie Smith (D), president-elect of NCSL. “I can't think of a more appropriate winner of the Harrington Award.”

Kevin B. Harrington was a native of Salem, Mass. An educator by profession, he served as president of the Massachusetts Senate from 1971 to 1978. He organized the Legislative Education Office, which is responsible for developing training for State House interns, the Citizens Legislative Seminar, and the NCSL Legislators Back to School program in Massachusetts. He was a leading advocate of civic education and believed government should play a significant role in promoting the civic education of its citizens.

Nominations were reviewed by a special committee of legislators and legislative staff appointed by the NCSL president and the NCSL staff chair.

NCSL is the bipartisan organization that serves the legislators and staff of the states, commonwealths and territories. It provides research, technical assistance and opportunities for policymakers to exchange ideas on the most pressing state issues and is an effective and respected advocate for the interests of the states in the American federal system.