Why I love the legislature: legislative staffers from across the country describe what drew them to the statehouse.

Author:McClure, Megan
Position:STAFF PROFILES
 
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ANNE ZIAJA

Executive Director Massachusetts Senate Office of Education & Civic Engagement

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"The goal is to give citizens the tools to be actively, confidently engaged with state government."

Anne Ziaja credits a summer internship in Washington , D.C., during the nation's bicentennial celebration in 1976 as the pivotal moment when she decided she wanted to work in government. After an internship with the Massachusetts Senate, she was hired to work for that chamber's civic education programs.

Now in her 40th year at the Senate, she is the executive director of the Office of Education and Civic Engagement.

"What I find especially gratifying is meeting someone who participated in an internship or seminar and who credits [my office] for his or her continued participation in government," she says.

Ziaja received NCSL's Kevin B. Harrington Award for Excellence in Democracy Education in 2013 for her work informing students and the public of the value of democracy and civic responsibility. "Especially meaningful to me is that this award is named for Massachusetts Senate President Harrington, the first president of NCSL and a major proponent of civic education. He gave me my first job in the Massachusetts Senate."

SONIA GAVIN

Legislative Reference Librarian Montana Legislative Services Division

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"I am not your typical introverted librarian. I really enjoy interacting with the public, talking to them about the legislature and the legislative process."

Sonia Gavin worked in student government at the University of Montana, "so being involved with the state Legislature was very appealing," she says. She credits her cousin, who had recently moved to Helena, however, for convincing her to move to the state capital. The position of legislative information resources manager was open, so she applied and got the job.

As a librarian in the Legislative Services Division for the last nine years, she says her job is one part digging up research and one part working with and educating constituents. "Helping someone navigate our legislative website is very rewarding," she says, "especially when you can help someone find an answer to a question."

The best research question she's been asked? It was about a parasite that attacks wolves. "A researcher gave me just the Latin name for it, and I had to dig to find anything regarding the topic. I came up with about 10 articles that helped with the research. It was a good challenge...

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