The 2023 CSG National Officers pursue their passion for public service by leading The Council of State Governments
By Cody Porter and Trey Delida
Gov. John Carney
Delaware | 2023 CSG National President
The Council of State Governments ushered in its 90th anniversary with the election of Delaware Gov. John Carney as 2023 CSG National President at its national conference in December.
Carney, who succeeds Hawaii Gov. David Ige as national president, became Delaware’s 74th governor in January 2017 and began his second term in January 2021. From 2011 to 2017, Carney served as a member of the U.S. House of Representatives. His six years of service in the House followed two terms as Delaware lieutenant governor, taking place during Gov. Ruth Ann Minner’s administration, from 2001 to 2009.
“I am honored to serve as the national president of The Council of State Governments in 2023,” Carney said. “I look forward to working with state leaders across the country to advance issues that are important to all of us — making sure we have safe communities, a strong and growing economy, and world-class public schools for all our children.”
In becoming CSG National President, Carney joins his predecessors from The First State, Govs. Minner and Jack Markell, both of whom previously served in the role. Minner, the first female national president, served her one-year term in 2005. Markell, who succeeded Minner in 2009 as Delaware governor, was national president in 2016.
“Governors Minner and Markell had a way of giving everyone a seat at the table. We call it The Delaware Way,” Carney said. “It means that we work together, get to know our colleagues from both parties, and put partisan differences aside to get things done for our communities. That’s what Delawareans expect from us, and I believe that’s what makes us such effective leaders. That philosophy is exactly what CSG is all about.”
Carney’s belief in practicing The Delaware Way has paid dividends for his state. He embarked on his first term as governor intent on developing a competitive economy, improving educational opportunities and implementing a sustainable financial plan. Even when tasked with navigating COVID-19, he managed to address the needs of the state with assistance from Delaware communities and the Legislature.
As a Delaware congressman, Carney supported the return of American manufacturing jobs through the Make It In America agenda. He also promoted job growth for small- and medium-sized businesses as lead sponsor of the Jumpstart Our Business Startups, and again as lead sponsor on a bill assisting veterans in their transition to the job market.
“During his tenure as a public servant at the local, state and federal level, Governor Carney has distinguished himself as a problem solver and an innovator,” said David Adkins, CSG executive director/CEO. “He has consistently demonstrated the ability to bring people together and, as a result, he has produced impressive results for the people he serves.”
Although COVID-19 tested Carney and fellow state leaders, other more unique challenges await in the year ahead. Among them is an economic imbalance that consists of a large discrepancy between available jobs and the workforce.
“Across the country, and certainly in Delaware, we now have more jobs available than people looking for work,” Carney said. “That’s something I’ve never seen before in my career in public service, and a big part of that challenge is the large number of vacancies within state government.”
In its position as a nonpartisan representative of the states, Carney said the platform of CSG allows states to benefit from shared “best practices and lessons learned.” Such opportunity can produce “outside the box” thinking that states can adopt to combat economic struggles by generating jobs competitive with the private sector.
“CSG is all about partnership and working together. State governments across the country are facing the same challenges, regardless of who is in the majority,” Carney said. “Throughout my term as national president, I will be committed to bringing members together to discuss these issues. I hope CSG will be a platform for all of us to find common ground and work together on real solutions that will benefit our communities.”
|Years in Public Office: 22|
|Positions: Lieutenant Governor (2001-09), State Representative (2011-17), Governor (2017-Present)|
|Education: Dartmouth College (B.A., 1978), University of Delaware (M.P.A., 1987)|
|Interesting Tidbit: The son of educators, Carney attended Dartmouth College to pursue his degree and further his football career. On the gridiron, he was named All-Ivy League and Most Valuable Player. Upon graduating from Dartmouth, Carney accepted a position to coach freshmen football at the University of Delaware where he also earned a master’s degree in public administration.|
Rep. Julia Howard
North Carolina | 2023 CSG National Chair
Rep. Julia Howard is one of the longest serving members of the North Carolina Legislature. First elected to the state’s District 79 in 1989, she represented her constituents there for more than 30 years. In 2019, Howard was elected to represent District 77, where she currently serves Rowan County, Yadkin County and her home, Davie County.
Throughout Howard’s decades of service, she sat on and chaired several House committees, including banking, energy and public utilities, and finance. Passionate about policies that impact North Carolina families, she has dedicated her career to issues like welfare reform, aiding small businesses and child protection laws.
One of Howard’s most notorious feats comes from her leadership through the Great Recession of 2008. North Carolina had amassed a debt to the federal government totaling $2.7 billion on top of exhausting its unemployment trust fund. Howard’s legislation restructured the state’s unemployment system to avoid significant federal unemployment tax increases on small businesses.
An active member of CSG throughout her career, Howard was named national vice chair of the organization in 2020, a position she served in for two years before advancing to her role as chair-elect as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. A 2008 CSG Henry Toll Fellow, she also served as chair of the CSG Southern Legislative Conference in 2007-08.
During Howard’s steadfast leadership, CSG has grown as an organization, and she looks forward to working to connect state leaders to address today’s pressing policy issues.
|Years in Public Office: 34|
|Positions: State Representative (1989-Present)|
|Education: Salem College (B.A., 2003)|
|Interesting Tidbit: Outside of the Legislature, Howard is a licensed real estate broker and appraiser who owns and operates Howard Realty in Davie County. Howard enjoys gardening in her spare time.|
Rep. Kevin Ryan
Connecticut | 2023 CSG National Chair-Elect
Rep. Kevin Ryan, a deputy speaker and 15-term veteran of the Connecticut General Assembly, serves the towns of Bozrah, Montville and Norwich in the 139th House District. His career in public service spans 30 years, all of which has been as a member of the Public Health Committee and the Appropriations Committee. During eight of those years, Ryan was House chairman of the Labor and Public Employees Committee.
In 2023, Ryan embarked on a new role as CSG National Chair-Elect. Through this role with CSG, he served on the Strategic Planning Committee, learning the scope of services and opportunities offered by the organization. Ryan hopes to use his new CSG platform to foster continued growth of the organization and its members.
“I hope that CSG can continue to grow as a resource for legislators, legislative staff, and members and staff of the judicial and executive branches through webinars, regional and national conferences, and research on specific topics,” Ryan said.
Ryan attended the Robert J. Thompson Eastern Leadership Academy and is a CSG Henry Toll Fellow. He serves on the National Conference of State Legislatures Task Force on Agriculture and on the NCSL Executive Committee representing CSG East.
In addition to his career in public service, Ryan gives back to his community through his involvement with Big Brothers Big Sisters of Southeastern Connecticut, where he serves as president. He previously worked as a clinician and optometrist, as well as vice president of Uncas Foods Inc., a family-owned business.
|Years in Public Office: 31|
|Positions: State Representative (1993-Present)|
|Education: Villanova University (B.A., 1974; B.S., 1976), Pennsylvania College of Optometry (O.D., 1978), University of New Haven (M.A., 1989)|
|Interesting Tidbit: A dedicated educator, Ryan served on the Montville Board of Education for seven years before his election to the Connecticut House of Representatives. He has been an adjunct physics professor at the University of New Haven since 1980.|
Sen. Elgie Sims
Illinois | 2023 CSG National Vice Chair
The legislative pathway of Sen. Elgie Sims was cemented just over a decade ago, built upon a foundation that is his devout devotion to Illinois communities. As senator for the 17th District, such support actively impacts Chicago’s south side, south suburbs, and Will and Kankakee counties.
Sims’ increasing involvement as a legislator at the local and state levels has since grown to include the national landscape. The four-year member of the CSG Midwestern Legislative Conference was nominated by his MLC peers to join the CSG Executive Committee, resulting in his selection as 2023 CSG National Vice Chair.
“I’m a former baseball player so I know the importance of a utility player,” Sims said. “My role and goal this year is to support the vision and leadership of CSG National Chair Julia Howard and CSG President John Carney. I want to make sure that I’m doing just that so that we can continue creating this forum for discussions of excellence in state government. It’s so important that we have that forum and the ability to forward policy at the state level.”
Sims, who is chair of the Senate Appropriations Committee, also served as MLC Chair in 2019. In 2014, he graduated from his first of two prominent leadership programs associated with CSG: The Bowhay Institute for Legislative Leadership Development of the MLC. Sims then graduated from the CSG Henry Toll Fellowship in 2015.
“Through my leadership experiences, I’ve had the opportunity to develop more personal relationships,” Sims said. “There were people in my BILLD and Toll classes who I knew for years before either of us ever figured out the party affiliation of the other. I think that’s a testament to the relationships you establish, and that’s really the benefit of being involved with CSG. It’s a nonpartisan organization that focuses on excellence in state government.”
Sims’ foray into public service began in 2012 upon getting elected to his first of nearly four terms representing the 34th Illinois House District. His contributions during that time have most notably reduced disparities in school funding, generated growth among small businesses, stimulated employment among the middle class and youth, and strengthened community and law enforcement relationships.
Through his affiliation with CSG, Sims said he and his legislative counterparts benefit from the nonpartisan forum made available by the organization. It’s in such settings that conversation and thought sharing result in support and proactive response, like that of Sims’ economic work, leading to an improved quality of life for state residents.
“There’s certain conversations that you cannot have on the Senate or House floors because they may become political and partisan,” Sims said. “If we are able to come together — not as Democrats or Republicans, or moderates or progressives — we have a forum to talk about the issues concerning our constituents.
“I think CSG is uniquely positioned as a nonpartisan organization focused on excellence in state government to create opportunities for discussion that can occur in an authentic way to help forward policies that create pathways to understanding.”
|Years in Public Office: 11|
|Positions: State Representative (2012-18), State Senator (2018-Present)|
|Education: Illinois State University (B.A., 1993), University of Illinois (M.P.A., 1997), Loyola University Chicago School of Law (J.D., 2007)|
|Interesting Tidbit: Sims maintains his involvement as a community leader and is a member of many civic organizations. As part of these endeavors, he provided books and scholarships to countless children in need.|
2023 CSG Regional Officers
Ted Arnott, Speaker of the Legislative Assembly of Ontario | Co-Chair
First elected to the Ontario Legislature in 1990 at age 27, Arnott’s service earned him re-election on seven occasions. He became the 42nd speaker of the Legislative Assembly of Ontario in July 2018 following his re-election. Once the youngest member of Provincial Parliament in the Ontario Progressive Conservative Caucus, Arnott is now the longest serving member of the Legislature.
Jamie West, Member of Provincial Parliament of Ontario | Co-Chair
West’s legislative career launched in 2018 when he was elected to the Legislative Assembly of Ontario. An advocate of the working class, he’s the official opposition critic for labor, training and skills development in the Legislative Assembly. In addition to West’s commitment to preserving human rights, his career includes work in mental health, construction, mining and workplace safety.
Michigan Sen. Roger Victory | Chair
Victory served in the Michigan House for six years before he was first elected to the Michigan Senate in 2018. He is the Senate Republican Whip and previously served as the assistant majority whip for the 101st Michigan Legislature. In 2022, Victory served as majority vice-chair of the Senate Agriculture Committee and chair of the Senate Judiciary and Public Safety Committee.
South Carolina Sen. Thomas Alexander | Chair
Alexander started his career in South Carolina Senate in 1994. In 2021, he was voted Senate president with bipartisan support. He currently serves on several committees within the Senate, including finance; labor, commerce and industry; public utility review; and medical affairs. He also serves as chairman of the Senate Interstate Cooperation Committee, Legislative Oversight Committee and Interstate Cooperation Committee.
California Assemblymember Mike Gipson | Chair
Gipson has served in the California State Assembly since 2014 after getting elected by its 64th Assembly District. He has been reappointed Assembly Democratic Caucus Chair every year since 2016. In this role, Gipson leads the majority caucus’ legislative decision-making process, addresses statewide issues, and hosts weekly meetings concerning the caucus’ priorities. He previously served as a councilmember for the city of Carson.