Valerie Barry is half of a two-member team of special assistants appointed by Mayor Marion Barry to organize the 120 to 160 city boards and commissions into a balanced, cohesive unit.

She said she shudders when she thinks of the volume of work before her, but "I'm feeling very good about it for the sake of the city."

Barry, who is not related to the mayor, was executive assistant to City Council member David A. Clarke (D-Ward 1) before joining the mayor's office.

"I'm a Washingtonian and my parents were Washingtonians. I have a sense of what the city needs," she said.

The first goal of her office is to identify and streamline city boards and commissions, while helping open the nomination process to more residents. Other problems, such as updating the functions of the boards, are now secondary concerns because of staffing limitations.

"We found it appalling the number of women serving on them -- less than 20 percent. There were never any announcements in the D.C. Register of the vacancies," she said, despite laws requiring the vacancies to be posted.

Recruiting more women and posting vacancies are problems that will be addressed immediately, she said. Other problems, such as updating antiquated rules governing some of the boards, will be dealt with later.

Before working for Clarke, Barry was in charge of the City Council's legislative record-keeping office.

Barry, 38, brings to the office experience with the federal government and with the National League of Cities and the U.S. Conference of Mayors.

In 1973, she entered local govenment service as special assistant to the chairman of the D.C. City Council.

Barry lives in Upper Cardozo with her two children.