INDIANAPOLIS—Speaker Pro Tempore Brian Patrick Kennedy of Rhode Island became the 52nd president of the National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL) at the annual Legislative Summit in Indianapolis. Kennedy, a Democrat, succeeds Republican speaker Robin Vos of Wisconsin. Vos is now formally NCSL’s President Emeritus.
Sabrina Lewellen, deputy director and assistant secretary of the Arkansas Senate, was elected staff chair, a position that serves a critical role in the governance of NCSL, guiding the work of the Legislative Staff Coordinating Committee and working closely with the NCSL CEO to ensure the conference is meeting its mission and serving legislators and legislative staff at an outstanding level.
"NCSL stands as the premier bipartisan organization for legislators and the laboratory for democracy for legislators and legislative staff. I am profoundly honored to spearhead NCSL during this critical juncture, where fostering collaboration and bipartisanship is of utmost importance," said Kennedy.
Kennedy has served in the Rhode Island House of Representatives since November 1988. He has led several committees, is the Dean of the House and currently serves as the chamber’s Speaker Pro Tempore.
He has been active with NCSL for decades and has served on the Executive Committee, the NCSL Foundation, and is a former co-chair of the Communications, Financial Services and Interstate Commerce Committee and the NCSL Executive Task Force on Insurance.
Kennedy, a real estate broker and appraiser, earned a master’s degree in Business Administration from Anna Maria College in 1987. He received his Bachelor’s degree with a double major in history and general social studies from Providence College in 1983.
Lewellen has more than 20 years of legislative service, including 15 years in senior management. Lewellen has been involved with NCSL since 2005, serving in several capacities with the Executive Committee, the American Society of Legislative Clerks and Secretaries, the Legislative Staff Coordinating Committee and the Research, Editorial, Legal and Committee Staff section (RELACS). She currently serves as staff chair of the Executive Committee’s Subcommittee on Outreach and Member Services.
“I am so thankful to be able to serve NCSL and its members,” she said. “I am proud to serve as this year’s staff chair for NCSL and look forward to continuing the work on behalf of more than 30,000 legislative staff.”
NCSL, a bipartisan organization that serves the nation’s 7,386 state lawmakers and more than 30,000 legislative staff, alternates its leadership annually between the two major political parties.
Other newly elected officers:
Utah Senate President Pro Tempore Wayne Harper (R), president-elect: Harper has served in the Utah House of Representatives since 1997 before being elected to the Utah Senate in 2013. He has been an active member of NCSL, having previously served on the NCSL Executive Committee and several subcommittees and working groups.
Illinois Rep. Marcus C. Evans Jr. (D), vice president: Elected to the House in 2012, Evans serves as assistant majority leader and chairman of the Labor and Commerce Committee under House Speaker Emanuel “Chris” Welch. He has been actively involved with NCSL since 2016, serving on the Executive Committee, the Task Force on State and Local Taxation, the Task Force on Energy Supply and numerous others.
John Snyder, staff vice chair: John Snyder, transportation committee staff administrator in the Kentucky Legislative Research Commission, has been part of the Kentucky Legislative Research Commission for over 34 years. Snyder has served on standing committees, staff chair and vice chair of both the Transportation Committee and the Natural Resources and Infrastructure Committee, as well as the Executive Committee.
NCSL is governed by a 63-member Executive Committee, elected yearly, which includes both legislators and staff, under the leadership of seven officers.
NCSL is a bipartisan organization that serves the legislators and staffs 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.