U.S. Congress names its first Black Secretary of the Senate
After more than four decades of service, Sonceria “Ann” Berry, has been named the nation's first Black Secretary of the Senate. Berry will be the 35th American and eighth woman to serve in the position since the role was established in 1789.
Berry will be leaving her current position as Deputy Chief of Staff for Senator Patrick Leahy (D-Vermont) to assume the new role. According to a Senate press release, Berry has mentored nearly every Senate Administrative Director to work in the Upper House. Additionally, Berry has worked in the offices of Senator Tom Carper (D-Delaware), former Senator John Edwards (D-North Carolina), former Senator Pat Moynihan (D-NY), and former Senator Howell Heflin (D-Alabama).
Berry is a native of Birmingham, Alabama and holds a bachelor's degree in education from the University of North Alabama. During the state's 2017 special election, Berry was in charge of setting up the D.C. office of former Senator Doug Jones (D-Alabama) and was eventually hired as Jones' transition advisor, a permanent staff role.
“I have had the privilege of working in the U.S. Senate for 40 years serving the American people,” said Berry. “I am humbled by this opportunity to continue that service as Secretary of the Senate. It will be an honor to work with Senators and staff on behalf of the country to advance our common goal of representing this great nation.”
The Secretary of the Senate is responsible for a broad array of duties including, "the disbursement of payrolls; the acquisition of stationery supplies; the education of the Senate pages; and the maintenance of public records," according to the Senate's press announcement. Generally, Berry's work in the role will encompass legislative, financial, and administrative functions.
Democratic Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer praised Berry, noting the significance of her nomination.
“I am ecstatic about the historic nomination of Ann Berry to be the new Secretary of the Senate,” Schumer said. “This is a vital role that not only oversees key personnel, but also aids in the institution’s overall effectiveness. I am confident that Ann’s professional experience in both Senator Leahy and Senator Jones’s offices will ensure a successful tenure as she continues to serve the institution of the Senate.”
Former Senator Jones also celebrated Berry's appointment by tweeting his support.
March 1 will mark Berry's first official day in her history-making role.