Local Government Leadership Academy

People presenting information in a council chamber

State and federal funding reductions, paired with increasing demands for services, will force local government to find innovative solutions to better serve their citizenry.

Mark O’Connell, Executive Director, Wisconsin Counties Association

Enhance your leadership skills and gain tools to address issues impacting your local government. Explore and find solutions to generate results. Engage with other local government leaders to shape the future of your community.

The Local Government Leadership Academy (LGLA) is a nine-month, cohort-based program and includes a blend of in-person workshops, virtual sessions, online self-study, and goal-setting to help local government leaders develop professionally while also contributing to the improved capacity of their local government. As leaders apply skills learned, they create intra-agency improvements (e.g. improved staff morale, strategic decision-making, and clarity of purpose) that will ultimately improve the overall functioning of local governments as organizations, and thus their capacity to provide quality services to Wisconsin communities.

The Local Government Leadership Academy began as a collaborative effort between the Wisconsin Counties Association, Leadership Wisconsin Inc., and UW-Madison Division of Extension and serves:

  • elected officials who understand the basics of their role and are ready to take on new leadership challenges.
  • department heads, directors, and managers who are new to leadership roles, as well as those aspiring to or preparing for leadership roles.
  • anyone interested in becoming a more effective leader in local government.

Academies are a place of training in a particular field. In the Local Government Leadership Academy, you will focus on four primary skills of being an effective local government leader: relationship-building, communication, decision-making, and vision. Each of these four topics is grounded in the idea that we lead in service of the community and “we can accomplish more together than we can alone” (Max DePree).

Your academy experience is shaped around three specific goals:

Two hands working on and pointing to screen of laptop computer

Address your leadership challenges

Is it hard to find time to be intentional about the challenges you face as a leader?

During the academy, you will take the time to identify and address a leadership challenge using the skills and resources you gain.

Wisconsin Local Government Leadership Academy with WI Capitol building in background

Apply your learning in real-time

Do you learn a lot in workshops but revert to the usual routine when you return to the office?

The academy promises to give you actionable skills and tools you can implement immediately.

Two men siting at a table discussing meeting topic with others looking on from a row of chairs behind them.

Exchange challenges and knowledge 

Have you ever wished for a safe place to try on new ideas or discuss a problem?

You’ll have time to connect with other local government leaders, learn from their experiences, and get feedback on the things that matter most to your leadership success.

The academy runs from January through August and includes two 1-day workshops in Stevens Point, group virtual meetings, and self-paced learning activities.

Expect about 2 hours/week of LGLA commitment, which includes attending sessions, self-study materials, and completing assignments.

2024 Academy Schedule*
All sessions are virtual and held on Thursdays from 12:00 p.m. – 1:15 p.m. unless otherwise noted.
*Specific topics and order of delivery are subject to change.

September 15, 2023 – Registration opens
December 22, 2023 – Registration closes

Getting Started:
January 11, 2024
– OPTIONAL technology check
January 18 – virtual orientation
February 1 – conversation with LGLA Alum

Relationships Unit:
February 15 (9:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m. in Stevens Point)
– building trust, clarifying your professional challenge, and relational networking skills for shaping change
February 29– emotional intelligence
March 14 – leadership essentials (featured leader(s) sharing their experience and advice regarding relationship building)

Communications Unit:
March 28
– trust and engagement
April 11 – understanding conflict
April 25 – leadership essentials (featured leader(s) sharing their experience and advice regarding effective communication)

May 9
– Stevens Point In-person: professional challenge check-in

Decision-making Unit:
May 23 –
using data to inform decisions
June 6 – outcome-based and participatory budgeting
June 20 – systems thinking
July 11 – leadership essentials (featured leader(s) sharing their experience and advice regarding effective decision-making)

Visionary Leadership Unit:
August 1 – leadership essentials (featured leader(s) sharing their experience and advice regarding visionary leadership)
August 15 (9:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m. in Stevens Point) – turning your WHY into action, professional challenge peer coaching

September 24, 2024 (10:00 a.m. – 1:00 p.m.) – graduation takes place at the closing assembly for the Wisconsin Counties Association annual conference at the La Crosse Center in La Crosse, Wisconsin.

The Academy cost of $1,200 includes instruction fees, learning materials, a professional portrait, and meals during workshop hours. You are responsible for your own transportation and lodging costs, as well as meals not included as part of the workshops.

Fees can be paid all at once or in 2 installments by credit card or check. Registration is not confirmed until at least 1 payment is received.

All available scholarships for the 2024 cohort have been awarded.

We have several financial support scholarships available for individuals whose local governments have limited professional development funds. If you would like to be considered for financial support for the 2024 LGLA, please complete this brief survey before registering. We will contact you soon after you complete the survey about the availability of financial support. If you are experiencing hardship, please contact us directly at lgla@extension.wisc. edu.

Scholarships for Rural Local Government Leaders

Thanks to a generous gift from Patrick Thiele, we are able to support individuals from rural local governments in participating in the Local Government Leadership Academy.

Scholarships for Leaders from Underrepresented Groups

Leadership Wisconsin, Inc. provides scholarships to support participation in the Academy among people who identify as a member of a group who have been historically underrepresented in local government. We have a specific interest in improving the representation of persons who identify with at least one of the following groups:

  • African Americans
  • Native Americans
  • Hispanic/Latinx
  • Asian Pacific Islander Desi American
  • Socioeconomically disadvantaged persons whose registration and participation in LGLA would cause financial hardship

We are recruiting from these groups to facilitate change and improve representation among those making decisions and setting policy in local government.

Interpreter services and disability accommodations are available.

Registration for the 2024 Cohort is Closed – for questions concerning registration, email us at lgla@extension.wisc.edu.

Individuals currently serving in a local government role are given priority in registration. Local government roles include elected, appointed, and hired positions in all forms of local government including school boards, lake districts, towns, villages, cities, and counties. Positions include citizen appointments to local government committees, commissions, and oversight boards along with all the other local government positions. If you have a question about if your role qualifies, please contact us at lgla@extension.wisc.edu.

If you are not currently in a local government role, please contact us prior to registering.

When you register, you will be required to select payment by check or credit card. You can pay the entire registration fee at once, or in 2 installments. If you select to pay by check, your registration is not confirmed until the check is received. If you pay in 2 installments, the 2nd installment must be received by January 31, 2024. To pay in 2 installments, enter the code: LGLA-Half in the promo code box at registration.

Following registration, you’ll be asked to complete a short survey to provide additional details regarding your registration.

The registration deadline for the 2024 Academy will be December 22, 2023.

Congratulations to our  2023 graduates! See the Press Release.

Photo Credit: Ann Ilagan Photography

If you have questions contact us at lgla@extension.wisc.edu.

A message from Mark O’Connell, Wisconsin Counties Association

Taking control of uncertainty and successfully steering through frequent bends in the road is the fundamental leadership challenge of our time. As catalysts for continuous improvement, leaders must realize that to build organizations which are simultaneously purpose-driven, performance-focused and principles-led is mission-critical. New circumstances require fresh solutions and that’s what the Local Government Leadership Program is all about!
– Patrick Ibarra, The Mejorando Group

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