Hometown: Jackson, Miss.
Role: Senior budget analyst, Mississippi Legislative Budget Office
NCSL involvement: Staff vice chair, Education Standing Committee
Years of legislative service: Nine
“‘Always maintain your credibility, because once it’s lost you will no longer have value within this job.’ I always keep that advice in the back of my mind in both my professional and personal lives.”
Why did you choose to work at the legislature?
I chose to work at the Legislature because it is very meaningful work. The state of Mississippi deserves to have legislators and legislative staff who keep its best interest at heart, while keeping the taxpaying citizens in mind. This work allows me the opportunity to make recommendations to and advise members of the Legislature regarding budgetary data, and it allows me to be a part of the overall decision-making process that impacts the fiduciary responsibility of the Legislature.
What skill or talent are you most proud of?
I am most proud of the ability to effectively communicate, both vocally and in writing. I possess the ability to communicate with anyone I may encounter. However, I pride myself most on the words I can put on paper.
Who or what inspires you?
I have a few people that inspire me. The first are my husband and my children. They sacrifice the most. They allow me the opportunity to fulfill my job during legislative sessions. I appreciate them for being patient and understanding. Additionally, Mr. Howard Brown, vice president for business and finance and chief financial officer at Jackson State University, has inspired me the most throughout this legislative journey. He was former deputy director at the budget office. From day one, he took time to teach me the process. He instilled many principles in me that have helped to shape my career. He knows when to be present. He exudes integrity, charisma, loyalty and honesty always. He is the epitome of what any mentor or leader should be. Every chance I get, I try to model myself after those characteristics as well.
What’s one thing you love about your state?
Mississippi often gets a bad rap because of its history. We are often at the bottom of any poll regarding states. But there are two things that I am proud of here in Mississippi. I am so very proud that we have been the model state for our Third Grade Reading Gate legislation. Other states are beginning to model their third grade state test preparation after Mississippi’s. Secondly, I am proud that our legislative leadership and members decided to retire the Confederate flag and create and display a flag that is representative of all Mississippians. I was in awe to be a part of that historical moment.
What are you currently reading/listening to/watching?
I am currently reading “The Journal of Mississippi History,” dated Spring/Summer 2022. This newly published journal contains an article regarding the recent change to the state flag. It also features several interviews from Mississippi’s legislative members.
What are some of the priorities of your NCSL Standing Committee?
Some of the committee’s priorities are to provide data on parental engagement and student-centered learning, innovation in education and the modernization of teaching.
This interview has been edited for length and clarity.
For its “Staff Snapshots” series, State Legislatures News is asking legislative staff about their role in the legislature. To suggest a staffer for this series, please use the email icon above to contact Holly South.