State Legislatures' Group Gets First New Leader in 32 Years

Tim Storey, who will take over as NCSL's executive director, has pledged to maintain the organization's bipartisan approach.
by | May 13, 2019 AT 4:24 PM
Tim Storey appeared on C-SPAN last fall to discuss redistricting. (C-SPAN)

SPEED READ:

  • Tim Storey will be the new executive director of the National Conference of State Legislatures.
  • Bill Pound has led the group since 1987.
  • Storey will take over in July.
 

The National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL) will be getting its first new leader since the Reagan presidency.

Tim Storey, a 30-year veteran of NCSL, is set to become the group’s new executive director. He will replace Bill Pound, who has run the organization since 1987, and is expected to maintain Pound's bipartisan approach.

“He’s wicked competent and very level-headed,” says Stephen Lakis, president of the State Legislative Leaders Foundation. “He’s the kind of guy who can steer a course right down the center and bring everybody to the middle.”

Given NCSL’s role as the association for every legislature in the country, finding someone who can steer a nonpartisan course was essential, says NCSL President Toi Hutchinson, a Democratic state senator from Illinois. (NCSL's presidency rotates between the parties. Wisconsin Republican Assembly Speaker Robin Vos will become president in August.)

“At a time when the country is as polarized and divided as it’s ever been, NCSL needs to protect its position and its ability to be truly bipartisan,” Hutchinson says.

Part of the appeal in hiring Storey, she says, is that he won’t face the same kind of learning curve as someone coming from the outside. Storey started at NCSL in 1989 as an intern right out of graduate school. He’s worn many hats since. For years, he ran the association’s election and redistricting program, becoming one of the nation’s most widely quoted experts on legislative races.

“With Tim Storey, you get comprehensive, balanced analysis of these critical, under-covered contests,” says Larry J. Sabato, who directs the University of Virginia’s Center for Politics, which publishes a newsletter to which Storey has contributed. “That is rare to find in these polarized times.”

In addition to his work in the political realm, Storey has worked on education finance, legislative management, leadership training and professional development. He has consulted with parliaments and conducted trainings in several other countries, including Iraq, Kenya, Pakistan and South Africa.

NCSL is the leading professional organization for clerks, sergeants-at-arm and other legislative staff. In recent years, the group stepped up its technical assistance and training efforts in order to meet the ever-expanding demand.

“Legislative staff are getting pulled far more in different directions than they were in the '70s and '80s,” Storey says. “Not just partisanship, but all the different ways that they’re called upon.”

NCSL is based in Denver but maintains an office in Washington, D.C., where it seeks to influence federal policy and represent state interests in the Congress and the administration.

Storey’s appointment, which will take effect on July 15, comes at a moment of upheaval among state organizations. Last month, the National Governors Association ousted its executive director, Scott Pattison, amid struggles with heavy staff turnover. That group has yet to select a permanent successor.

NCSL leaders stress that their change in management was conducted in a deliberative fashion -- Pound gave more than six months' notice of his resignation.

NCSL, like any organization, has to adapt to changing times. But it’s not a “scrape off and rebuild,” as Storey puts it. Following just the second leadership change in its history, NCSL will continue doing pretty much what it always has.

“I think we’ll have a very easy transition,” Pound says. “We’ve done a lot of the same things, at different times and together.”