Robert A. Deleo
Speaker, Massachusetts House
Robert Deleo grew up in an Italian-American family in East Boston. He earned degrees from Northeastern University and Suffolk University Law School. Deleo became involved in public service at an early age, serving as a town selectman before being elected to the Massachusetts House in 1990. He was cha ir of the Ways and Means Committee before becoming speaker in 2009.
How has the legislature changed over the years? It's become a more professional place, a more serious place. With all the various updates in communication, the way we interact with the public has changed. One thing that I am proud of is that we have the largest number of women in leadership in the history of our state.
What does it take to be an effective leader? A good leader needs to be a good listener. As an example, in 2014, when we decided to take up gun legislation-to strengthen what we already had and close some of the loopholes--I had discussions with House members, experts, advocacy groups who wanted stronger laws, and opponents, gun owners and those who felt the laws were strong enough but that certain changes could be made. Not everybody was completely happy, but ultimately we had a piece of leg islation which was hailed as the strongest in the nation.
What is your proudest accomplishment? The gun legislation. I'll never forget the day the news came on about the massacre of school children in Newtown, Connecticut. I can remember pounding the console of my car saying that we had to do something about these massive killings throughout the country. I was proud that we took up gun legislation and passed it. Another proud moment was when a young mom with two children with autism stopped by my office and talked about the problems she and her husband were having making ends meet because of the medical bills. I didn't know her, she wasn't even from my district, but she convinced me that we had to do something. And we did. We required insurance to cover the costs of caring for children with autism. That same woman came back to see me after the bill was signed to profusely thank me. Stories like that--when you make a difference in a person's life-give me the greatest sense of accomplishment.
What do you know now that you wish you'd known when you first got elected? To be cognizant of the wording I use. The higher I have progressed, the more I realize you have to be careful to make su re that the thought you...