USC Price School of Public Policy

USC Price, LA County leadership program earns national honor

September 1, 2015

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L.A. County Department of Human Resources Director of Personnel Lisa Garrett with USC Price’s Robert Denhardt, left, and Paul Danczyk at a past EDLP graduation event (Photo by Tom Queally)

By Matthew Kredell

The USC Price School of Public Policy’s collaboration with the County of Los Angeles to offer training in executive leadership received a 2015 achievement award from the National Association of Counties (NACo).

“Our partnership with the USC Sol Price School of Public Policy is changing the game for leadership development in county government,” said Lisa Garrett, director of personnel for the department of human resources at L.A. County. “Together, we have built something great. Not only is the curriculum outstanding, the administration of the program is top-notch.”

Garrett accepted the award in the category of Personnel Management, Employee Training and Employee Benefits at NACo’s 2015 Annual Conference and Exposition in North Carolina on July 12.

Developing the next generation of leaders

Designed to meet the educational needs of the next generation of local government practitioners, the Executive Leadership Development Program (ELDP) began in January 2014 with a focus on enhancing the leadership competency of mid- to senior-level managers in L.A. County. It consists of a 13-week program including 12 in-class sessions, web-based activities and assignments, and two 30-minute individualized coaching sessions with distinguished faculty.

Three 20-person cohorts are planned for the fall, adding to the 138 county employees who have already completed the program. Participants come from all 37 departments across the county.

Last year, the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors issued a proclamation in recognition of the program to USC Price Dean Jack H. Knott and county officials.

Addressing real challenges

The curriculum was created to fit the needs of L.A. County, with each participant collaborating to complete a group project that addresses a real issue facing the county. Work from one group project on financial literacy is currently being implemented in the Employee Wellness Program for all county staff.

“All of our leadership development programs are designed to meet the specific needs of the local jurisdiction,” said USC Price Professor Robert Denhardt, who co-directs the program along with Paul Danczyk, the director of executive education of the Price School in Sacramento. “In this case, we worked closely with the county to identify and prepare sessions for 10 topics the county felt were especially important.”

Garrett explained that ELDP was an effort to create a new and enhanced training program to replace one that had been dissolved during the recession. This effort had become a priority with county department heads who realized the importance of preparing senior managers for executive positions soon to be vacated by baby boomers. USC Price was chosen to administer the program from many applicants that submitted proposals. Other counties have contacted Garrett about using the program as a model, many of which she said are also trying to partner with USC Price.

“We’re already seeing benefits from the program,” said Garrett, noting that at least 10 county employees already have advanced professionally after having completed EDLP. “These cohorts also create an opportunity for networking and creating partnerships between various county departments.”