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Celebrate National Women's Month With The State Budget Officers

The 1953 membership photo of the National Association of State Budget Officers (NASBO) shows a world in which men dominated the positions of budget officers. This wouldn't have been a surprise to anyone at the time.

But the world has changed -- and more than many might guess.

Consider the February NASBO webinar that featured an all-female panel including Oregon's Kate Nass, who served as NASBO president from 2020 to 2022; Colorado's Lauren Larson (this year's president) and Ohio's Kimberly Murnieks, who starts her term as president in July.

A Meeting of the National Association of State Budget Officers in 1953

Also participating in the webinar was Moody 's Analytics economist Emily Mandel, and the current NASBO executive director, Shelby Kerns. The fact they are all women got barely a notice from any of the participants, although a viewer did post a LInkedIn comment remarking on the the gender breakdown.

"As women, it's impossible not to be aware of it," says Kerns. "But at the same time, it's not something we thought about going into the webinar. For us, this is our leadership, but seeing the reaction, I realized how striking it is to others."

The breakdown of NASBO membership has also changed over time, although male members are still in the majority. In 1992 18 percent of members were women, while in 2022-2023, 38 percent are. “The increase in women leading NASBO is reflective of the makeup of our membership, of the budget directors chosen by governors to hold an influential decision-making position in state government," says Kerns. "Lauren, Kim, and Kate were elected by their peers – women and men - because they stand out as leaders in their states and in their profession.”

Of course, it's not as though this transition happened overnight.

We've been writing about this field since the early 1990s and interviewed many women, over time, who held their state's budget director position. Back in the 1990s, there were also a slew of NASBO firsts on the gender front.

The first female NASBO president took office in 1992 when Nevada's Judy Matteucci became its first female president. Kansas's Gloria Timmer was the second in 1996-1997 and in the following year she was appointed NASBO's first female executive director. (We knew Gloria well and remember fondly the tour Gloria gave us of the Topeka Capitol shortly before her appointment. We were saddened, as were so many of her friends and admirers, by her illness and death in October 2000.)

The trend lines are clear, and while there may be glass ceilings in some states, it's abundantly clear that the glass has been shattering so loudly that if you listen closely it's hard to miss.

A NASBO membership meeting in early August, 2019

#WomeninGovernment #StateandLocalGovernmentHumanResources #StateGovernmentDiversity #PublicSectorWorkforceDiversity #GovernmentLeadershipDiversity #NationalAssociationofStateBudgetOfficers #NASBO #ShelbyKerns #NASBOLeadership #ChangingTimes

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