Back in Session: A DMGS Podcast

by Duane Morris Government Strategies

Welcome to "Back in Session," a podcast focused on exploring various state-level policies and legislation shaping our nation, one state at a time. Join our hosts, Ryan Stevens and Ryan DeMara from Duane Morris Government Strategies, as they engage a diverse range of guests to bring you behind the scenes of the legislative process.

Whether you are a policy wonk looking to dive into recent legislative developments, or a  ... 

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Podcast episodes

  • Season 2

  • Shaping Policy and Building Bridges: A Conversation with SGAC President Terra McClelland

    Shaping Policy and Building Bridges: A Conversation with SGAC President Terra McClelland

    Welcome to this episode of the "Back in Session" podcast, featuring a dynamic discussion between hosts Ryan Stevens and Ryan DeMara, and their special guest, Terra McClelland, the current president of the State Government Affairs Council (SGAC) and Vice President of Government and External Affairs for Benevis. In this episode, discover Terra’s insights on professional development, state-level policy, and her fascinating journey in government affairs. Plus, hear about her unique experiences in presidential advance work (in the Office of the First Lady) and her passion for making a difference in underserved communities. About Benevis: Benevis is a leading dental healthcare delivery organization for practices focused on delivering life-changing oral care and orthodontics to underserved communities. Through comprehensive care and operational services that expand access to dentistry, Benevis has a 20-year history of providing the highest quality care to approximately 5 million children and adults. Its network reaches more than 100 locally branded dental offices across the U.S. that deliver treatment through 1.2 million visits each year. Benevis also advocates for programs and legislation that ensure all families have access to the oral healthcare they need and deserve. For more information, visit About the State Government Affairs Council (SGAC): The State Government Affairs Council (SGAC) is the premier national association for multi-state government affairs professionals, providing opportunities for networking and professional development. SGAC's mission is to advance and support the state government affairs profession by fostering community among peers and elected officials, building knowledge, and promoting diverse perspectives in a nonpartisan environment. Learn more at:

  • Safety in Sight: A Conversation on AI Gun Detection Technology with Burgess Nichols from ZeroEyes

    Safety in Sight: A Conversation on AI Gun Detection Technology with Burgess Nichols from ZeroEyes

    In this episode of the "Back in Session" podcast, hosts Ryan Stevens and Ryan DeMara delve into the innovative world of AI technology applied in gun detection with Burgess Nichols from ZeroEyes. Starting with some light-hearted sports banter, the conversation transitions into a serious discussion on how AI can help mitigate mass shootings through advanced detection systems. The episode also covers ZeroEyes' efforts in working with legislators and communities to ensure a cooperative approach to security and emergency response, emphasizing the importance of education and transparency in technology deployment. About ZeroEyes: Founded in 2018 by a team of Navy SEALs and elite technologists following the Marjory Stoneman Douglas school active shooter incident, ZeroEyes was created to protect people from having to face similar circumstances. As veterans and parents, ZeroEyes’ co-founders were compelled to develop a proactive solution to keep people safe after seeing and hearing about mass shootings occurring in schools and other public places, and the impact they have on our society. Drawing from over 50 years of collective military experience, they provide military-grade intelligence monitoring to facilities like schools, commercial buildings, and defense sites. Learn more:

  • Navigating the AI Policy Puzzle with CT State Senator James Maroney

    Navigating the AI Policy Puzzle with CT State Senator James Maroney

    This week, the Ryans bring on special guest, Connecticut State Senator James Maroney. They ask Sen. Maroney about his role in shaping artificial intelligence (AI) policy in the state of Connecticut and beyond. They also talk about his path to public service, the importance of collaboration, where things stand in Connecticut's current legislative session, and even how Connecticut has better pizza than New York and New Jersey! Tune in for an excellent discussion. About Sen. Maroney, Deputy Majority Leader of the CT Senate: James Maroney was first elected to represent the 14th District (Milford) in 2018. Before being elected to the Senate, he was a State Representative for the 119th District from 2012-2014, where he served on the Higher Education Committee. Due to his distinguished service on the Higher Education and Employment Advancement Committee, he was asked to serve on the Planning Commission for Higher Education and help develop a strategic plan for higher education in Connecticut. Prior to politics, Sen. Maroney was a past president and founding member of the Milford Education Foundation and also served on the Milford Board of Education. A proud and active participant in the community, he is a member and past president of the Devon Rotary, where he is the co-chair of the scholarship committee. Sen. Maroney founded First Choice College Placement in January of 1999 which aims to make young people’s higher education dreams come to fruition. First Choice College Placement also makes community service a priority and offers a number of educational seminars, donates to scholarships, and makes practice SAT and ACT tests available to the community. First Choice is a member of the Milford Chamber of Commerce and the Downtown Milford Business Association. Prior to a successful career in public service, State Senator Maroney attended Yale (Class of 96), where he was a 3-time varsity letter winner in both track and field and cross-country. In his senior year, he was elected captain of the track and field team and was awarded the Yale Men’s Cross-Country Award for Performance and Dedication. He graduated from Jonathan Law High School of Milford in 1992. Senator Maroney lives in Milford with his wife Jennifer and his son Jay. His committee assignments: Chair: General Law Vice Chair: Veterans’ Affairs Ranking Member: Regulation Review Member: Finance, Revenue & Bonding; Higher Education & Employment Advancement; Energy and Technology Learn more:

  • Breaking Barriers in Policy: A Conversation with Jody Thomas from the National Foundation for Women Legislators

    Breaking Barriers in Policy: A Conversation with Jody Thomas from the National Foundation for Women Legislators

    This week, the Ryans bring on Jody Thomas from the National Foundation for Women Legislators (NFWL) to talk about the NFWL, its mission, and more. They cover the NFWL's role in supporting female legislators through professional development, mentorship, and networking. You won't want to miss this fun and informative conversation! The Ryans also recap the DMGS 2024 State Capitol Building Bracket Challenge, which saw over 5,000 votes on our Twitter/X. The winner for the inaugural challenge was Nebraska! Thanks to everyone for voting. About the NFWL: THE VISION OF NFWL is to empower and inspire elected women to become thought leaders who shape America’s future. THE MISSION OF NFWL is to provide strategic resources to elected women for leadership development, exchange of diverse legislative ideas, and effective governance through conferences, state outreach, educational materials, professional and personal relationships, and networking. We encourage the election and/or appointment of women to public office. Since 1971, the number of women serving in state legislatures has more than quintupled. Today they hold 2,307, or 31.2% of the 7,383 seats nationwide. Currently, 24 women serve in the US Senate and 120 serve in the US House of Representatives, while 95 women hold statewide elective office. Of those, there are 9 women Governors, 19 Lt. Governors, 8 Attorneys General and 21 Secretaries of State. From Washington, DC to local city councils, women are making a big difference in politics and how our country is run. Women chair numerous committees, they influence policy and they understand the importance of building bipartisan coalitions in support of the nation’s most pressing concerns to ensure widespread change in both thought and policy on a variety of issues. That’s where the National Foundation for Women Legislators comes in! Since 1938, NFWL has served as a forum for elected women from across the country to be empowered through information and experience. As the oldest organization for elected women in America and the ONLY one that includes women on the city, county and state levels, we encourage our members to take leadership roles and form connections across the aisle. We know that only by working together, can we achieve our goals. Learn more:

  • Energy, Education, & AI: Special Guest State Rep. Josh Kail Talks All Things Pennsylvania Policy

    Energy, Education, & AI: Special Guest State Rep. Josh Kail Talks All Things Pennsylvania Policy

    In the latest Back in Session episode, the Ryans bring on Pennsylvania State Representative Josh Kail to discuss various issues facing Pennsylvania and his role as the Chairman of the House Minority Policy Committee. Kail gives his perspective on numerous topics from energy to education, AI to taxes, and everything in-between. Notably, he offers his reaction to Governor Shapiro's new energy plan and discusses the legislature's role in shaping AI regulations moving forward. Kail also talks about his path to becoming a State Representative, what it's like being a father of 8 and his hall of fame statistic from his college football days. Enjoy! Learn more about Rep. Kail at and about the House GOP Policy Committee at