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MacDonough '98 Named U.S. Senate's First Female Parliamentarian

February 15, 2012

Elizabeth MacDonough '98 recently became the first woman selected as chief parliamentarian in the U.S. Senate since the post was created in 1935.

Image of Elizabeth MacDonoughPolitico reported (here and here) on MacDonough, who as parliamentarian interprets arcane Senate rules and precedents.

"Elizabeth knows everybody. She knows the secretaries, she knows the Capitol policemen, she knows the janitors and she's always there for them," Alan Frumin, her old boss and the outgoing parliamentarian, told Politico. "I'd like to think I'm as down-to-earth as Elizabeth," he added without flinching, "but I'm not."

"She's a smart, diligent woman. She's got a good brain and she's got integrity," Sen. Richard Shelby (R-Ala.), told Politico. "You put all that together, and you have the makings of a great parliamentarian."

MacDonough grew up in the nation's capital and stayed inside the district to earn her BA degree at George Washington University. When she was ready for law school, Vermont Law School's comparative quiet was "extremely attractive," she said. She could not have predicted then how her Vermont years would help pave the way back to Washington, where she now dispenses legal advice around the clock to the nation's leaders.

In 1999, MacDonough accepted a position as an assistant parliamentarian for the Senate, and in 2002 she was promoted to senior assistant parliamentarian.

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