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Feb. 25, 2014

Two Southerners Will Lead The Council of State Governments

LEXINGTON, Ky.--Two Southerners will lead The Council of State Governments in 2014. For the first time in CSG's history, a former chair, West Virginia Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin, will serve as president. Tennessee Senate Majority Leader Mark Norris will serve as CSG chair.

Tomblin served as CSG chair in 2006 when he was West Virginia Senate president. Legislators serve as chairs while governors serve as presidents of CSG. Tomblin became West Virginia's governor in 2010 when then-Gov. Joe Manchin was elected to the U.S. Senate. Tomblin had also served as chair of The Council of State Governments Southern Legislative Conference in 1998-99.

"I am honored to be the first past chair to serve as president of The Council of State Governments," Tomblin said. "It is a privilege to be part of the leadership team for an organization that provides an invaluable opportunity for leaders from across the country to sit down and share new ideas and best practices to move our states forward."

CSG Executive Director/CEO David Adkins said Tomblin was an effective advocate for the states during his legislative service when he served as chair of CSG's Southern Legislative Conference and then as CSG's national chair.

"He brings incredible expertise and passion to his public service and I am confident he will make a difference for our nation during his tenure as our national president," Adkins said.

Adkins also said he is looking forward to working with Norris.

"Sen. Mark Norris has gained a national reputation for his willingness to take on tough issues and find consensus," Adkins said. "His leadership of CSG will help engage state leaders from throughout the nation craft lasting solutions to the challenges facing the states."

Norris, who served as chair of the SLC in 2010-11, and Tomblin have selected workforce development as the CSG Leaders' Initiative for 2014.

"We will not only focus on best practices for successful alignment of labor, education and economic development, but we will include a focus on important challenges and opportunities related to workforce development like veterans affairs, hunger, children in poverty and criminal justice," Norris said. "All too often, we find that workforce development and education are overshadowed, if not overwhelmed, by ever increasing demands for human services. States need to do better dealing with these not only holistically, but realistically. I believe there's enough talent throughout all four regions, which collectively comprise this great organization, for states to set the standard of success in moving our nation forward."

Tomblin also sees a need for an emphasis on workforce development.

"Nationwide, there is a shortage of workers with backgrounds in science, technology, engineering and math," Tomblin said. "As we take steps to reinvigorate our nation's manufacturing industry, we must develop a seamless education system to help those pursuing a technical career to receive the knowledge and skills they need to be successful. It is imperative we work collaboratively with business partners to ensure our nation's workforce is prepared with the education and experience needed for today's high-skilled technical jobs."

Colleen Cousineau, director of CSG's Southern Legislative Conference, worked with both Tomblin and Norris when they chaired the SLC.

"Having the opportunity to work with both Governor Tomblin and Senator Norris as officers of the Southern Legislative Conference, I can attest--firsthand--to their strong commitment to the organization," she said. "As officers at the national level, The Council of State Governments will benefit from their strong, hands-on leadership styles and keen understanding about the mission of CSG."

Tomblin and Norris will be joined on the CSG leadership team by New York Sen. Carl Marcellino as chair-elect and Nebraska Sen. Beau McCoy as vice chair. Alaska Sen. Gary Stevens is the immediate past chair.

The Council of State Governments is our nation’s only organization serving all three branches of state government. CSG is a region-based forum that fosters the exchange of insights and ideas to help state officials shape public policy. This offers unparalleled regional, national and international opportunities to network, develop leaders, collaborate and create problem-solving partnerships.