Council Boasts an All-Female Officer Corps

From left to right: Nyasha Smith - Secretary to the Council, Jennifer Budoff - Budget Director, Ellen Efros - General Counsel

When the Council is in session, all eyes in the Chamber are directed to the dais, where the Councilmembers are seated. The eyes of the Councilmembers, however, look out in the opposite direction, at a small three-seat table. The individuals at this table are the three most prominent senior members of the Council staff: the Secretary of the Council, the General Counsel, and the Budget Director.

And now, one of the few times in Council history, all three of these critical roles are held by women.

Nyasha Smith was appointed Secretary to the Council in 2011. Jennifer Budoff was appointed Budget Director that same year. And now, just this week, Ellen Efros began serving as the General Counsel to the Council.

The Secretary is the Council’s chief administrative officer, the General Counsel is the Council’s chief legal officer, and the Budget Director is the Council’s chief financial officer. These three appointed officers are the only Council staff positions specifically named in the Council rules.

According to the Council’s rules, “the Chairman shall recommend the assignment and removal of these officers, and the Council shall, by resolution, act on the Chairman’s recommendation.”

While these three appointed officers and their staffs work constantly to ensure the Council operates effectively, perhaps the most visible manifestation of their roles comes when the Chairman directs his attention to that small table in front of the dais and asks the “sufficiency questions” required of all legislation:

“Madam General Counsel, is the measure legally and technically sufficient for our consideration?”

“Madam Secretary, is the record complete?”

“Madam Budget Director, does the measure’s fiscal impact statement comply with Council requirements?”

Rarely, since the start of Home Rule, have all three of these questions been preceded with the female means of address.