Legislative Staff Management Institute

2022 Program | Aug. 19-26, 2022


LSMI logoThe Legislative Staff Management Institute (LSMI) provides legislative staff with the opportunity to develop and enhance their management and leadership skills.

The University of Southern California Sol Price School of Public Policy, the California State University Sacramento Center for California Studies and NCSL co-direct this world-class, executive management program.

Legislative staff participants gain valuable insight during LSMI’s eight-day program of highly-interactive seminars, discussions and team building exercises with leading faculty and trainers from throughout the country.  The focus is on knowing and understanding the challenges of managing in the legislative setting.

LSMI gives staff new tools to make them more effective in their work and offers opportunities for personal growth and renewal.

“I can unequivocally say that nearly every aspect of my personal and professional life has been positively and permanently influenced by the knowledge I gained from LSMI and its exceptional instructors”  –A senior manager in the Arkansas Legislature

“LSMI was a career-changing experience for me. The training was spot-on in terms of being tailored to legislative staff, and very relevant to my day-to-day job. I highly recommend LSMI for any legislative staff interested in professional growth.” –The director of a California legislative staff office

Here’s what to expect:

  • Interactive and dynamic instruction from leadership experts.
  • Access to two assessment tools such as Social Styles Inventory or Myers-Briggs Type Indicator.
  • Two, 45-minute executive coaching sessions.
  • The opportunity to discuss and apply lessons learned in a supportive setting.

Please note that the dates and on-site format of the 2022 Legislative Staff Management Institute are subject to change, based on evolving university restrictions on in-person gatherings and uncertainty regarding the COVID-19 pandemic.

This program is intended for both senior-level legislative staff, as well as staffers on their way to such positions. Acceptance is competitive as the program size is limited. The 2022 LSMI application closed on May 13, 2022. Applications for the 2023 program will open in early March 2023. 



Program Dates

  • Early June: Participants selected and notified.
  • July 14, 1 p.m. ET: Program orientation and access to assessments. Orientation will be recorded in the event participants are unable to attend.
  • Aug. 19-26: On-site LSMI program.
  • September and October: Two, 45-minute executive coaching sessions

Program Location and Housing

Most days, the program will be held at the USC Capitol Center (1800 I Street, Sacramento, Calif.). It is a short walk from participant housing, which is at the Sheraton Grand Sacramento (1230 J Street, Sacramento, Calif).

Please note that the dates and on-site format of the 2022 Legislative Staff Management Institute are subject to change, based on evolving university restrictions on in-person gatherings and uncertainty regarding the COVID-19 pandemic.

Program Eligibility and Tuition


This program is intended for both senior-level legislative staff as well as staffers on their way to such positions from throughout the country. Acceptance into the program is competitive as the program size is limited.


The tuition covers a seven-night stay at the four-star Sheraton Grand Hotel Sacramento, catered meals, field trips, materials, eight days of high level faculty presentations, and two executive coaching sessions. Participants pay significantly less than the actual costs because of generous contributions from the NCSL Foundation for State Legislatures.

  • $3,400 with accomodations
  • $3,000 without accomodations

Program Design

The LSMI Program, developed by USC and CCS in collaboration with NCSL, focuses on practical application of concepts and tools that legislative staff can use to meet the increasingly complex policy and management demands that confront American state legislatures throughout the country. The curriculum has five major components:

Interactive Seminars

USC and CCS programs are interactive seminars, designed for skill building and development of management and leadership processes that can be taken from the classroom into the legislative environment.

The facilitators include members of the design team, as well as other nationally and internationally experienced trainers with extensive professional experience. An overall facilitator will introduce each program, provide an overview of the goals, and link each presentation to the program as a whole.

Each morning begins with participant reflections on their experiences and learning surprises from the previous day. This facilitated discussion provides participants with the leadership exercise of creating shared meaning and starts each day with group interaction.

The seminars include opportunities for the participants to practice specific management processes. Experienced faculty will place these management practices in the context of the legislative institution. The faculty are experienced professionals who can draw on years of work in state legislatures throughout the country.

A distinguishing feature of successful leaders is the use of varied processes to develop consensus, involve employees and constituencies, and create a shared vision. To this end, effective training provides applied knowledge of processes and content at different levels including individual skills, group process, organizational aspects and legislative context.

The conference emphasizes action-based learning to assure involvement of participants, to encourage interaction outside of formal classroom sessions, and to reinforce and extend understanding of key concepts and issues.

Executive Coaching

Executive coaching was first offered as part of LSMI in 2017. While optional, participants have the opportunity to work one-on-one with a certified executive coach to strengthen their leadership impacts. The LeadershipEnergizes360! is often used as a springboard for conversation. Participants sign-up for two, 45-minute sessions during the residency; the confidential sessions are done over the phone or web-conference.

Self-awareness is a critical factor in effective leadership, and we all get stuck sometimes. he coaches' role is to help participants refine their present and future selves in the context of their professional goals. 

Workplace challenges and conflicts tend to occur at two different levels: organization and individual. At the organizational level, structural frameworks are typically the nexus. This includes the organizational structure, policies and procedures, and resource allocation. At the individual level, human factors come into play—including those around political, symbolic, and human resource frameworks, aptitude and attitude.

Our executive coaches take a holistic approach. Core techniques identify whether the challenge is due to resources, aptitude, or attitude. For those that revolve around resources, the outcome is shaped by organizational decisions or parameters. Aptitude, while at the control of the individual, often takes the form of training opportunities.

The greatest impacts in an executive coaching setting revolve around attitude. Through a series of conversations, inquiries, and exercises, the coach assists the client in their self-discovery process as it pertains to their professional development. 

From our experiences in legislative environments, goals can include relationship building, conflict management, influence/negotiation, organizational culture, career/personal changes, strategy, and team dynamics. The goals can also be value-based, particularly in hierarchical settings where an elected member's request goes against the participant's values, such as drafting legislation that compromises a protected class.

While the spot-coaching experience is limited to two sessions, much work can be completed in the short timeframe. These sessions expose participants to a professional development approach for future consideration.

Legislative Content

The program draws on professionals with considerable legislative experience. These professionals have teaching and presentation expertise and extend discussions to legislative issues from throughout the United States. Several presenters are former elected leaders who worked on strengthening staff professionalism within their legislatures.

Management Processes

The management process pieces are presented each day. The faculty draws on public and private sector experience to promote best practices and identify research findings.  The emphasis is on the discussion, practice and application of skills important to effective management and leadership.  The sessions are highly interactive and include the following:

  • Leadership Energizes!  360-degree leadership assessment tool. You will ask your staff, peers, and supervisors to fill this assessment out before the Institute begins.
  • Classroom simulation exercises on group processes, organizational learning, trust building and communication.
  • Case studies that allow you to apply lessons learned in a controlled environment, followed by informative debriefs and group discussion.

Offsite Activities

Throughout the 8-day residency, participants' perspectives are challenged in both content and delivery. While the "home base" is the USC State Capital Center, a variety of educational and networking experiences take participants outside of the classroom setting.

In recent years, at least three locations have been core to instructional design: Crocker Art Museum, Whitewater Excitement Campground, and Escape Sacramento. While some activities may be more physical or mentally challenging than others, great attention is placed on making risk appropriate for the participant's comfort level. At each of these locations, participants have the opportunity to "opt-out" of the educational simulation without impacting their learning experience. 

For networking opportunities, there are at least three events that allow time to connect with colleagues while doing something fun. In the past, these have included an evening in San Francisco, a Triple-A baseball game or VIP access to the State Fair and Food Festival, and a private tour of the State Capitol.

Participants and Admissions


The LSMI curriculum is designed for both senior legislative staff members plus those on their way to such positions. The curriculum is demanding and the admissions committee (the USC, Sacramento State Directors and NCSL director) seeks senior and up-and-coming staffers who can benefit most from a challenging practical and academic experience. Acceptance into the program is competitive.

Appropriate candidates include partisan and non-partisan staff who currently hold critical management positions or are likely to in the future. Essential qualities for any participant are a commitment to public service in a legislature and an aptitude for the challenges which LSMI offers.


2022 course applications are no longer being accepted. Applications for the 2023 program can be received starting early March 2023. 

  • 2023 LSMI Application (will open early March 2023)

A candidate's admission will be determined by the nature of his or her current responsibilities, accomplishments, challenges faced, and potential for future public policy contributions. Candidates will be notified of their acceptance approximately two weeks after the application deadline.

Since the sharing of experience is critical to the LSMI's objectives, participants will be chosen to include a diversity of backgrounds, geographical regions, and varieties of legislatures. If several well-qualified applicants have very similar backgrounds, one or more of them may be deferred to a future class.

The University of Southern California Sol Price School of Public Policy; California State University, Sacramento's Center for California Studies, and the National Conference of State Legislatures are committed to the policy that all persons shall have equal access to programs, facilities, and employment without regard to race, color, creed, religion, national origin, sex, age, marital status, disability, public assistance status, veteran status, or sexual orientation.

Please note that the dates and on-site format of the 2022 Legislative Staff Management Institute are subject to change, based on evolving university restrictions on in-person gatherings and uncertainty regarding the COVID-19 pandemic.

Program Contacts

Angela Andrews
Director, Legislative Staff Services Program
National Conference of State Legislatures

Paul Danczyk
Executive Education in Sacramento for the University of Southern California Sol Price School of Public Policy

Leonor Ehling
Executive Director
Center for California Studies, Sacramento State

2020 LSMI Online Experience Curriculum

2019 LSMI On-site Curriculum

Additional Resources