“The State Legislative Leaders Foundation staff is without equal. With an average tenure well over 20 years, each person brings tremendous experience, exceptional skills, and complete dedication to the job. They are an honor to work with and the successes and accomplishments we have enjoyed over these past 40 years are a celebration of their talents.” -Stephen G. Lakis

Stephen G. Lakis, President

Stephen joined SLLF in 1972 just after it was established and through the following decade honed his political skills by working directly with state legislative leaders across the country on a series of legislative reform studies. In 1981, the Board of Directors appointed him President and Chief Executive Officer.

From the outset, Stephen’s goal was to create an independent, nonpartisan organization that would serve as an educational resource for state legislative leaders, informing the debate on critical public policy issues and aspects of leadership.

Over the course of his tenure the SLLF has grown into the preeminent nonpartisan legislative leadership organization in the land reaching Senate Presidents, Speakers of the House, Majority and Minority leaders, and future leaders, with its unrivaled university-based educational programs.

In addition to overseeing all SLLF activities, he is a frequent speaker on legislative leadership, ethics, and legislative performance. He also has extensive experience in the international arena where he has organized scores of programs in Europe, Asia, and Latin America.

Stephen received his BA in Political Science from the University of Bridgeport. He also attended graduate school at American University. He is married to the former Evelene Corrigan and is the proud father of four grown children, two grown stepchildren, and grandfather of three perfect girls!

Marcia B. VanderVoort, Executive Vice President

Marcia VanderVoort has been with the State Legislative Leaders Foundation since 1981 and has served as Vice President since 1999 and Executive Vice President since 2010.

Over the years Marcia has been involved with creating, planning and managing many of the Foundation’s national and international educational programs. She has also assisted in editing several major research studies and virtually every significant piece of correspondence prepared by the Foundation’s President, Steve Lakis. She works closely with the Board of Directors and has responsibility for the annual board meetings and the organization and management of the National Speakers Conference.

Marcia is a graduate of Newcomb College of Tulane University. She and her husband Tom have two adult children – Betsy (a graduate of Smith College and Suffolk Law School), and John (a graduate of Union College and now serving as a pilot in the Air Force) – and two beautiful granddaughters.

Debra J. Bohlin, Executive Asst. to the VP/Coordinator of Event Logistics

Debbie began working for the Foundation in September 1993. Her responsibilities focus on collecting, organizing and distributing advanced reading materials for all SLLF programs. Debbie also has responsibility for managing logistics for the Foundation’s newest program, the Majority Leaders Symposium. Her meticulous attention to detail and exceptional organizational skills have made her an indispensable member of the SLLF team. Debbie also serves as a close advisor and assistant to our Executive Vice President, Marcia VanderVoort.

Debbie and her husband reside on Cape Cod and together have 6 children and 8 grandchildren.

Alison Bressi, Finance Manager

Alison Bressi joined SLLF in 2007. She is a CPA with experience working for international accounting firms in the USA and abroad where she spent four years in London and Geneva.

Alison is part of the team who works to keep SLLF in a stable financial position. In addition to handling all financial accounting and compliance for SLLF, Alison is responsible with the President for developing the annual operating budget for SLLF and working with various program managers in developing and implementing specific program budgets.

Apart from the SLLF, Alison enjoys working on her little house near the beach, watching NASCAR, and being Lucky’s doggy sitter!

Janice Govoni, Scheduling and Logistics Manager

Janice Govoni joined the SLLF team in 1989. Her responsibilities focus on assisting with logistics for all program participants for the National Speakers Conference, and for nearly every other SLLF national and international program. In addition, Janice provides on site assistance at all SLLF programs maintaining close contact with legislative leaders and Advisory Council members. She is without peer in our offices.

Janice and her husband, Tom, live on Cape Cod and have 2 grown children and four beautiful grandchildren.

Evelene Corrigan-Lakis, Director of Strategic Planning

Evelene Corrigan-Lakis was appointed in 2011 to the position of Director of Strategic Planning for the State Legislative Leaders Foundation. As a member of the senior management team, her responsibilities embrace all facets of SLLF marketing, programing and innovation. Evelene also manages the logistics for serval of the Foundation’s core educational programs.

Prior to joining the SLLF, Evelene served as Office Manager to Member of Congress, John Larson, Connecticut. In her capacity as Office Manager she was responsible for all scheduling, special event planning and general supervision of staff. Evelene is the proud mother of two exceptional children, Thomas and Danielle, students at the University of Massachusetts and Cape Cod Community College, and wife and companion to Steve Lakis.

Evelene graduated from Suffolk University in 2001 (B.S., Business). A citizen of the USA since 2003, her native home is County Wexford, Ireland.

Thomas H. Little, PH.D., Director, Curriculum Development and Research

Little, ThomThom Little joined the SLLF team in 1995 immediately assuming responsibility for the curriculum development of the Foundation’s educational programs. Thom’s core responsibilities focus on helping to conceptualize the subject matter for the Foundation’s several annual educational programs and then assisting university partners in recruiting expert faculty. His work with the Foundation’s educational programs is unparalleled and is a major reason why these programs enjoy broad bi-partisan support from legislative leaders across the nation.

Thom is also the principal author of a number of originally developed case studies focusing on specific aspects of legislative leadership, and he is author of numerous scholarly papers and publications.

In addition to his work with SLLF, Thom is a lecturer at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro where he teaches courses in state government, American politics, leadership and elections. He earned his Doctorate from The Ohio State University in 1991 and taught at the University of Texas at Arlington from 1992 to 1999.

Thom and his wife, Dr. Catherine Scott-Little, reside in Greensboro, North Carolina with their two daughters, Virginia and Rebecca where they are active in church. In his “spare time” Thom serves on the Board of Directors of the Greensboro Ballet and the UNCG Baptist Student Union Alumni Association.

Ken Morton, Assistant Director, Curriculum Development and Research

Ken joined the State Legislative Leaders Foundation in 2000. Over the course of his career with SLLF Ken has demonstrated his exceptional writing and research skills, providing able assistance to Thom Little in curriculum planning and development and to senior management. Ken is an integral part of the Foundation’s marketing and communications team.

Before moving to Cape Cod in the spring of 2000, his career trajectory took him through a number of positions from Publicist to Acquisitions Editor with various publishing companies in New York and Boston. In his spare time he enjoys birding, biking, boating, and gardening.

Papalinka Paradise, Communications / Events Manager

Papalinka joined the SLLF in 2000. Her exceptional creative talents in marketing and program design are reflected in virtually everything the SLLF publishes and presents to the world.

Papalinka also organizes and manages the Foundation’s prestigious Emerging Leaders Program at the University of Virginia and assists with the Foundation’s two annual leadership summits.

A 1992 graduate of Emerson College, Papalinka received a BA degree in Communications, Politics and Law. She and her husband, John, live in Sandwich with their three children: Lily, Anna, and Griffin.

Henry Zhao, President of SLLF Asia Operations and Vice President, SLLF

Dr. Henry Zhao is the CEO and board member of Harvest Fund Management Co., Ltd. He has worked in the financial industry for over 20 years – 18 on the Management level.

Henry joined Harvest in October, 2000. Under his leadership, Harvest has become one of the top asset management companies in China. Harvest was managing over $49 billion in assets by the end of 2012 and was ranked as the first among joined venture fund managers and second in the industry in total assets.

Prior to joining Harvest, Henry was the deputy general manager of Da Cheng Fund and served in the executive group in the brokerage company on commodity futures, commodities exchange, and import and export corporation.

Dr. Zhao holds a Ph.D. in economics from Guanghua School of Management, Peking University. He is currently the Vice President of Asset Management Association of China.

Tony Zhao, Deputy Director of SLLF Asia Operations

Tony joined SLLF in 2013 as an intern in the Washington D.C. office. As the newest addition to the SLLF family, Tony is responsible for conducting research on SLLF leadership programs, providing insights and analysis for SLLF’s outreach to China, and maintaining the SLLF Twitter account.

With a Master’s Degree in International Affairs from the George Washington University, Tony has interned at a number of prominent think tanks in D.C., including the Brookings Institution and the Hudson Institute as a research assistant. Tony is also experienced in providing simultaneous and consecutive interpretation for Chinese government delegations visiting the United States. In his spare time, Tony enjoys watching soccer and practicing Chinese martial arts.

Lucky Lakis, Morale Officer

Born oct 4, 2006. He has been a faithful companion to SLLF providing insightful observations on anybody who visits our offices.