Donna Sytek – Madam Speaker! Wrangling Cats with Grace and Aplomb

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Paula Tracy photo

Former House Speaker Donna Sytek was honored at the Governor and Council meeting last August.

By WAYNE D. KING, NH Secrets, Legends and Lore

Donna P. Sytek, State Representative 1977-2000

Speaker of the House 1996-2000

Listen here:

New Hampshire’s first woman Speaker of the House was renowned for appropriating the phrase “herding cats” as her way to humorously describe the process of governing the 400-member House of Representatives aka the General Court in New Hampshire.

Over time that description has caught on, not only because it accurately describes the process of trying to guide the second largest deliberative body in the U.S. (3rd in the world, after the Japanese DIET), but because it also reflects the humor and grace that Speaker Sytek brought to the job.

First elected to the NH General Court in 1977 she served until 2000 rising to be the first woman Speaker of the House. 

In this podcast Speaker Sytek reflects on her distinguished career in the legislature, the women who dominated the legislature upon whose shoulders she stood, and the current state of legislative affairs.

Wayne D. King

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