2019 Senior Staff Leadership Development Program


1775 to Today: Lessons in Leadership
Lexington, Mass.
Dec. 1-4, 2019

About the Program

NCSL’s new Senior Staff Leadership Development Program is an executive leadership workshop exclusively for legislative staff directors, senior department directors, chamber, caucus or leaders’ chiefs of staff. The program will consist of an introductory webinar, a three-day workshop and three continuing education webinars in the months following the Lexington/Concord experience. This program will bring together close to 20 senior-level legislative staff and is an offering of NCSL in partnership with Beacon Leadership Collaborative.

In April 1775, the first shots of the American Revolution were fired in Lexington and Concord, Mass.—“the shot heard ‘round the world.” In this historic setting and using the events of 1775 as a touchstone, participants will be asked to fully engage in exploring their own leadership strengths and weaknesses.

  • You will identify a personal leadership challenge and create a plan and a support team to help you address it.
  • You will identify your “immunity to change” and develop a plan to address it.
  • You will be able to articulate the difference between leadership and authority, the distinction between technical and adaptive challenges, and the dynamics of individual and collective reaction to change.
  • You will be able to speak about how leadership is a dynamic, interactive, experimental, and iterative group process and it is as much about “followship” as it is about leadership.
  • You will collaborate on the creation of a best practices guide for legislative staff leaders.

The program will include two evening “fireside chats” about history and leadership and why they matter today. Participants will also have an opportunity to discuss historic leadership case studies in colonial Lexington’s Buckman Tavern and one of the most historic public buildings, the Old State House.

Eligibility and Admissions

Legislative staff directors, senior department directors, and chamber, caucus or leaders’ chiefs of staff are invited to apply for acceptance into the program.

To be considered for participation, interested legislative staff must submit in writing why s/he would benefit from this program. The letter must include the following elements:

  1. The number of years of legislative service, including the number of years in a leadership or management role in the legislature as well as previous leadership and management experience.
  2. A description of the applicant’s current role in their legislature.
  3. A statement explaining why the applicant would like to attend the program.
  4. A short summary of the management, leadership or organizational challenge the applicant is seeking to address by attending this program. 

Interested applicants should also describe their NCSL involvement and whether or not they’ve attended the Legislative Management Staff Institute (LSMI). This information is not part of the selection criteria but will help inform the selection committee of current, or previous, NCSL involvement.

The application period will open on Monday, Aug. 19, 2019 and will close on Friday, Sept. 20, 2019.

Acceptance into the program is competitive since the program size is limited. Candidates will be notified of their acceptance approximately two weeks after the application deadline.

Online Application

Program Costs and Housing

Participants will stay at the Inn at Hastings Park in Lexington, Mass.

All expenses for the program including meals, three nights of lodging and a transportation stipend of $400 will be paid by NCSL.

Faculty Bios

Jay Kaufman, Founding President, Beacon Leadership Collaborative

Jay Kaufman is the Collaborative’s founding president. He has taught and consulted on public and non-profit sector leadership for the past three decades. He helped launch the Initiative for Diversity in Civic Leadership, has served on NCSL’s leadership development faculty for courses in this country, Europe and Africa, served as founding director of Northeastern University’s Center for Leadership and Public Life and, before that, served as founding director of the Massachusetts Bay Consortium, an association of 18 colleges and universities.  In addition, he experimented with and experienced leadership successes and failures as a member of the Massachusetts House of Representatives where he served for 24 years, from 1995 to 2019.  He chaired the legislature’s Committee on Public Service and Committee on Revenue and was part of the House leadership team.  His “OPEN HOUSE” monthly public policy forum was recognized with the prestigious Beacon Award as the nation’s best televised government relations.

Jill Hufnagel, Beacon Leadership Collaborative

An international expert on adaptive leadership and case-in-point learning, Jill Hufnagel provides consultation on unwieldy organizational challenges and designs and delivers leadership programming built on deep capacity development and possibility thinking. Her clients include Fortune 500 companies, tech firms and financial institutions, school districts and health care organizations, as well as both federal government and global governing organizations. In addition to her e-book "Teachable Moments of Leadership," her writing has appeared in The Kansas Leadership Center's Journal, The Spin and the International Leadership Association’s Building Bridges. Jill began her career working for the Secretary of the U.S. Senate, has served on the faculty of Harvard’s Kennedy School, and works as a senior consultant with Cambridge Leadership Associates. She believes the work of leadership is about changing your corner of the  world and as such is everyone’s to claim. When not on the road, she hikes, cooks, reads, and aspires to breathe it all in thanks to an evolving yoga practice.

Catherine Allgor, President, Massachusetts Historical Society

Catherine Allgor is the president of the Massachusetts Historical Society since 2017. Previously, she had been the Nadine and Robert Skotheim Director of Education at the Huntington Library in San Marino, Calif.,and a former professor of history and UC Presidential Chair at the University of California, Riverside. Allgor attended Mount Holyoke College as a Frances Perkins Scholar and received her Ph.D. with distinction from Yale University, where she also won the Yale Teaching Award. Her dissertation received a prize as the best dissertation in American History at Yale and The Lerner-Scott Prize for the Best Dissertation in U.S. Women's History. She began her teaching career at Simmons College and has been a fellow at the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study and a visiting professor of history at Harvard University.

Nathaniel Sheidley, Executive Director, Boston Historical Society

Nathaniel Sheidley is Executive Director of the Bostonian Society, which operates the Old State House Museum on Boston’s Freedom Trail. Under his leadership, the Bostonian Society in 2018 launched a strategic plan that imagines a dynamic new place for public history at the center of Boston’s cultural landscape. Previously, Nat taught early American and Native American history at Wellesley College and served as the Bostonian Society’s Director of Public History. In the latter role, he curated and provided creative direction for numerous exhibitions and programs, including "Blood on the Snow," an immersive, site-specific work of theater written by playwright Patrick Gabridge that dramatizes the pivotal aftermath of the Boston Massacre in the very room where the events took place. Nat’s work is guided by a deeply held belief that public history at its best can do more than tell us about the past; it can also deepen our understanding of the present and equip us to build a more just and equitable future.

William (Bill) Fowler Jr., Professor of History (Emeritus), Northeastern University and Past President, Massachusetts Historical Society

William M. Fowler, Jr. the former director of the Massachusetts Historical Society, is Distinguished Professor of History, Emeritus Northeastern University. He received his undergraduate degree from Northeastern University and his Ph.D. from the University of Notre Dame. Dr. Fowler is the former editor of The New England Quarterly and the author of numerous history books, with particular interest in colonial and maritime history. In addition to his long career on the faculty of Northeastern University, Professor Fowler has taught and lectured widely in the U.S. and abroad, and is known for both his deep understanding of history and lectures at once informative and entertaining. 

Program Contact

For questions, please contact Angela Andrews at angela.andrews@ncsl.org or 303-856-1349.