Legislative Staff Management Institute

2020 Program | Aug. 28-Sept. 4, 2020


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 and the California State University Sacramento Center for California Studies 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


Program Location

USC State Capital Center
1800 I Street
Sacramento, Calif.

USC State Capital Center, Sacramento, CA


2012 LSMI Attendees: Group meetings


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 anticipated fee of $2,975 per participant, includes 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, plus the Union Pacific Foundation, USC and Sacramento State.

Program Design

The LSMI Program developed by USC and CCS 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 class room 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

  •  Self-awareness is a critical factor in effective leadership. The LSMI program provides two confidential executive coaching sessions with a certified executive coach to help participants refine their present and future self in the context of their professional goals. 

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.

Outside Activities

Photo:  American River RaftingThe program includes mild physical activities that provide team challenges and reinforce lessons learned in the classroom. A midweek session on characteristics of high performing teams is scheduled off-site along the American River.

The program includes a private tour of the California State Capitol and relaxing educational, social and cultural activities in San Francisco and Sacramento.


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 and Sacramento State Directors) 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.


2019 Course applications can be received starting March 1. The deadline for applications is May 3. All application materials must be submitted online, using this link:

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.

Program Contacts

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


Paul Danczyk
Co-Director, LSMI
University of Southern California
State Capital Center
1800 I Street
Sacramento, CA 95811
Direct: 916-637-8988
Office: 916-442-6911


Leonor Ehling 

Executive Director

Center for California Studies

Sacramento State

Direct: (916) 278-5086

Office: 916-278-6906 


Additional Resources

2019 Program Information

2018 Program Information