Featured Speaker: Friday, March 19, 9:00, Wigner Auditorium

Lois M. DeBerry
Speaker Pro Tempore
Tennessee House of Representatives

Christian, mother, wife, educator, realtor, and lawmaker are all words that describe the Honorable Lois M. DeBerry, Speaker Pro Tempore of the Tennessee House of Representatives. An alumnus of Lemoyne-Owen College, Speaker DeBerry has served in the Tennessee General Assembly since graduating from college in 1972. Speaker DeBerry's tenure in office is characterized by her devotion to children and youth, including day care and adolescent development, health care and women's issues, education, criminal justice reform, and economic development.

A lifelong public servant, Speaker DeBerry is affiliated with many organizations nationally and locally including: The Board of Directors of the State Legislative Leaders Foundation; the Executive Committee of the National Conference of State Legislatures; President Emeritus of the National Black Caucus of State Legislators; education commission of the state; NAACP; P.U.S.H.; N.O.B.L.E.; Delta Sigma Theta Sorority; Memphis Chapter of LINKS; first African American woman elected to House of Representatives from the city of Memphis; first woman chairperson of the Shelby County Democratic Caucus; first African American elected speaker pro tempore of the House of Representatives; and founder and chairperson of Annual Legislative Retreat of Tennessee Black Caucus of State Legislators. Speaker DeBerry's committee assignments include: member of the Health and Human Resources Committee, Government Operations Committee, Select Committee on Children and Youth, Committee on Rules, Oversight Committee on Corrections, House Ethics Committee, and Oversight Committee on TennCare. She was the majority whip for 92nd and 93rd General Assemblies. She has been a House member of the 88th through the 101st General Assemblies. Speaker DeBerry has received many awards for her leadership, scholarship, and public service.

The membership of the Tennessee House of Representatives elects, during the organizational session of the General Assembly, a representative to serve as speaker pro tempore for two years. The speaker pro tempore acts during the absence of the speaker of the House, but the speaker has a right to name any member to perform the duties of the chair for a period not to exceed one legislative day. She is a voting member of all committees of the House.

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