A Remarkable Man: William T. Pound is stepping down as executive director of NCSL, leaving legislatures stronger than he found them.

AuthorTubbesing, Carl
PositionNational Conference of State Legislatures

Bill Pound and I came to NCSL shortly after its birth in 1975. Our first boss was Jim Edgar, who later became governor of Illinois. Jim tells a story about the first trip he and Bill made together. They were at a meeting, the first of thousands. When they came back to the hotel after dinner, Jim went to his room and Bill stayed downstairs to socialize. The next morning, Bill couldn't wait to tell Jim how he stayed up till 2 a.m. talking to a legislative staff member about parliamentary procedure and legislative politics. Jim says he knew then, in the new organization's first few months, that Bill was made for NCSL.

Jim was prescient. If ever there was a perfect fit between an organization, its members, its mission and its staff leader, the match between NCSL and Bill Pound is it. I am not objective about this. He was my boss, but we also were close friends. That put me in an ideal position to observe and marvel in the qualities that have made Bill Pound synonymous with NCSL for the past 32 years.

When NCSL was created 44 years ago, legislatures were going through an intense period of modernization, adding staff, removing restrictions on when they could meet, strengthening committees, raising legislator salaries. Our brand-new organization thrived in this environment. Legislators and staff needed services and NCSL quickly became their trusted, objective source for policy analysis, training, workshops, technical assistance, publications and representation in Washington, D.C. These early years established a culture of responsiveness and adaptability that has guided NCSL ever since.

A Long List of Achievements

Under Bill's leadership, first when he became director of state services, then, beginning in 1987, as executive director, NCSL became one of the most respected and successful public organizations in the country. The list of achievements is vast--helping legislatures reform their budget processes; assisting others with overhauls of their rules; training new legislative leaders, committee chairs and legislative staff; orchestrating landmark lobbying victories in Washington, D.C; conducting staff compensation studies in numerous legislatures; providing research and producing publications on the incredible array of issues legislatures contend with every year; using technology to facilitate information sharing among the states; promoting international understanding through exchange programs and technical assistance projects in other countries...

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