Leadership Conference

Knowledge in Action:

USC State Capital Center Hosts Legislative Leadership Conference

By Scott Steele

Legislative Staff Management Institute

The USC State Capital Center in Sacramento welcomed more than 20 senior legislative staff from across the United States for an eight-day leadership and management training program.

For the fifth consecutive year, the Legislative Staff Management Institute program – sponsored by the National Conference of State Legislatures Foundation and presented in conjunction with California State University, Sacramento’s Center for California Studies – was held at USC.

Presenters included state government officials, leadership experts and faculty from USC and other universities throughout the country. The goal was to help professionals develop and enhance critical skills such as effective communication, team building, negotiation and conflict resolution.

According to Rich Callahan, associate dean and director of leadership programs at the USC School of Policy, Planning, and Development, who is co-director of the institute, the program is designed to facilitate conversations around key legislative issues within the context of representative democracy.

“The institute focuses on the practical application of concepts and tools that legislative staff can use to meet the increasingly complex leadership and management demands that characterize state legislatures throughout the country,” Callahan said.

Susan Liddle, a Colorado legislative council staff member who participated in the conference, said that the training not only gave her the opportunity to meet peers from other states, but also to “return to my state re-energized, with many new tools to help me be a better leader.”

During his presentation on public sector management, SPPD professor Chester Newland stressed the important role of both partisan and nonpartisan professionals to facilitate the accomplishment of legislative work, to sustain legislative institutions, to promote responsible creativity and to manage for future opportunities of effective governance.

“USC enjoys a powerful heritage of public affairs responsibility, enriched by generations of devotion to the advancement of practical, solidly informed development of public affairs leaders,” said Newland, who twice served as director of the Federal Executive Institute at the U.S. Office of Personnel Management.

Since 2005, nearly 150 legislative staff members from 30 states and the U.S. Virgin Islands have attended the training program.

Photo by Don Nahhas
Co-directors of the program Rich Callahan, USC, and Tim Hodson, CSU Sacramento