Majority Leader Schumer Floor Remarks On The Swearing In Of Sonceria “Ann” Berry As The 35th Secretary Of The Senate

March 1, 2021

Washington, D.C.   Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) today spoke on the Senate floor regarding the swearing in of Sonceria “Ann” Berry as the 35th Secretary of the Senate. Below are Senator Schumer’s remarks, which can also be viewed here:

We begin this week on a joyful note: welcoming an outstanding individual to serve as the new Secretary of the Senate: Ann Berry from the office of one Senator Patrick Leahy.

The position of the Secretary of the Senate dates back to April 8, 1789, just two days after the Senate achieved its first quorum. Today—one day after the conclusion of Black History month, and on the first day of Women’s History month—Ann Berry was just sworn in as the first Black woman to ever serve as the Secretary of the Senate. Another glass ceiling broken. It is a testament to her outstanding career as a public servant of the highest caliber.

Over her forty years in Washington, Ann has come to know the ins and outs of the Senate better than just about anyone else who works in the Capitol complex. She came to Washington, a proud native of Birmingham Alabama and a graduate of North Alabama University, to work for Senator Howell Heflin. Clearly, word got around about her talents, because over the course of her career, she went on to work for Senators Carper, Edwards, Moynihan, Jones and most recently, as Senator Leahy’s Deputy Chief of Staff, where she was an indispensable resource not only to Senator Leahy’s office, but to my team and to countless other Senators.

I want to thank Senator Leahy for parting with Ann and lending her considerable talents to the full Senate. He told me that he regretted her leaving, but was so glad that the Senate had seen her talents.

And thank you, Ann: thank you for accepting this incredible responsibility. Congratulations on beginning your historic tenure. And we all wish you the best as you work to bring this great institution to life.

As we all welcome Ann to her new role, the Senate also bids a fond farewell to Julie Adams and Mary Jones. Over the past six years, Julie Adams and Mary Jones have served as Secretary and Assistant Secretary of the Senate with impeccable skill and unflappable professionalism.

Both are longtime veterans of Washington—Julie worked for many years under Leader McConnell and First Lady Laura Bush, while Mary served in the White House under President George H. W. Bush and, as I remember, as Staff Director of the Senate Rules and Administration Committee where she did just a great job. Both of them are friendly and familiar faces around here in the Senate. Both have earned the respect of everyone here in the Senate who has worked with them.

Of course, Julie and Mary deserve special praise for their leadership over the last twelve months. As a global pandemic forced the Senate to adapt in new ways, they kept the Senate functioning in the midst of this historic crisis. And in the wake of the horrific attacks of January the 6th, Julie and Mary were heroic in getting the Senate back on its feet only a few hours after the violence had been quelled.

To Julie and Mary—thank you, thank you, for all you have done. The entire Senate wishes you and your families the very best, and we look forward to seeing what the road ahead holds for both of you. 

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