Local women play leading role for state senators

They first met as power forwards on the basketball courts of the North Shore Catholic School Elementary League. Now, 15 years later, they are serving as de-facto point guards in the political arena on Beacon Hill.Meaghen Hamill of Lynn takes over as chief of staff for Sen. Thomas McGee (D-Lynn) on Jan. 7, replacing Brendan Crighton, who will be sworn in as a state representative that day. Grace Harrington of Salem has been working as chief of staff for Sen. Joan Lovely (D-Salem) since September. She added the title of legal counsel after learning in October she had passed the bar exam on her first attempt.Both young women have worked at the State House for four years, after serving as college interns.?The thing I like the most is the community-service aspect of it,” said Hamill, a lifelong Lynner who graduated from St. Pius Elementary, Austin Prep (2006) and Boston University (2010). “When I was doing constituent services and helping people on a daily basis, it felt like I had a purpose.”As legislative director for McGee for the last two years, Hamill has worked on policy and legislation. “You still make a connection to how (legislation) affects people?s lives,” she said.Harrington, a 2006 Bishop Fenwick and 2010 Saint Anselm graduate, worked for state Rep. John Keenan from 2010 until taking a leave last summer to study for the bar. In January 2013 she was promoted to chief of staff for Keenan, who resigned in August to become a vice president at Salem State University. Lovely hired her in September.?Being intimately involved in progressing projects is rewarding,” said Harrington. “It feels good when it is ribbon-cutting day and you partake in it.”Harrington?s father, Neil, served eight years as mayor of Salem and is currently town manager in Salisbury; her grandfather, Kevin, was president of the state senate. He instituted a summer internship program which she participated in prior to her senior year of college. She recalled Sunday dinners at her grandparents? house, listening to conversations about politics and public service.?When I got a little older, I would start to chime in; I took an interest,” she said.Hamill also has a familial connection to Beacon Hill as her grandfather, Mike Leonard, worked for Sen. Walter Boverini and Sen. Edward “Chip” Clancy. Her first assignment for McGee was working on the naming of the walkway around Red Rock Park for Boverini. Her mother, Laurie, worked in former Lynn Mayor Edward J. “Chip” Clancy?s office.Hamill and Harrington had renewed acquaintances as high school basketball players in the Catholic Central League, with the latter going on to play collegiately. They remain good friends, with much in common – including bosses who greatly value their contributions.?Meaghen is a great asset to the office,” McGee said. “She?s very organized and a great person. She was a key person working with the transportation committee I chaired. She worked long and hard with me on the transportation bond package and she has been a big help on the budget. Anything she is asked to do, she gets it done.”Lovely – who called Harrington the “air traffic controller” of her office – welcomes the opportunity to have a chief of staff who has experience in the House of Representatives and is also an attorney.?Grace brings experience and relationships to the office,” said Lovely. “She?s going to help me forge relationships on the House side and get things done. The fact that she is a newly minted attorney is a huge bonus. I?m thrilled to have her on our team.”Hamill?s parents, Don and Laurie, have two other children: Matt, a senior at UNH, and Michaela, a junior at St. Mary?s High School. Harrington, the daughter of Neil and Sarah Harrington, has an older sister, Sarah; younger sister, Maeve, a senior at Saint Anselm; and younger brother, Hugh, a senior at St. John?s Prep.

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