Boston – Today, State Senator Benjamin B. Downing (D – Pittsfield) announces that he has been chosen for the prestigious Robert J. Thompson Eastern Leadership Academy (ELA). The program, sponsored by the Council of State Governments’ Eastern Regional Conference and located at the University of Pennsylvania, helps the region’s best and brightest officials develop their leadership skills and examine the most significant policy issues facing the states today. Downing is among a select group of 38 state government leaders from the Northeast, Eastern Canada, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands who have been granted this opportunity.
“As a state official, it is vital to hone my leadership and policy skills to the highest level. I am proud to be an ELA Fellow and to have the opportunity to not only enhance my abilities but also to build a unique network with colleagues across the region. Such personal and professional growth will allow me to better serve the citizens of western Massachusetts,” stated Downing.
The Fellowship takes Downing to Philadelphia to meet with fellow lawmakers and state officials from all branches of government from September 16-20. This year’s Academy is the third annual ELA.
ELA works to develop the next generation of state government leaders through a unique program that brings together officials from all three branches of state government. By focusing on the most important regional trends facing state government officials today, scholars from the University of Pennsylvania and outside experts will provide a context for Fellows to effectively analyze policies and programs, evaluate information, and communicate successfully with constituents and colleagues.
“New issues continually challenge state and local governments. The surest way to develop swift and effective solutions is to provide officials with innovative and practical resources necessary to tackle these challenges,” said Downing.
This year's dynamic program will focus on leadership lessons from senior elected officials, decision-making in times of crisis, conflict resolution, lessons on consensus-building, strategies for time management and media relations. ELA Fellows will work to enhance their personal skills in communicating with the public, building consensus, and solving problems.
"States are assuming greater policy-making responsibilities, making it more demanding to be a state government leader than ever before. In recent years, federal initiatives including No Child Left Behind and homeland security policies have placed significant new demands on states and provinces. To successfully meet these demands, effective leadership is required," explained Alan Sokolow, Director, CSG/ERC.
Distinguished experts will address the attendees including:
- Governor of Vermont James Douglas
- Member of the National Assembly of Québec Russell Copeman, CSG/ERC Chairman Professor Michael Useem, Wharton School of Business, University of Pennsylvania
- Kathleen Hall Jamieson, Director, Annenberg Public Policy Center
- Professor Alan Rosenthal, Eagleton Institute of Politics, Rutgers University
- New Jersey Assembly Speaker Joseph J. Roberts, Jr.
- Vermont House of Representatives Speaker Gaye Symington
- David Landis, retired State Senator, Nebraska
- Leadership trainer Dr. Daniel J. Miller, Jr., Lt. Col., U.S. Air Force
- Arch Lustberg, renowned media trainer
- Pam Vacarro, President, Designs on Time
“Sharing ideas and strategies in different policy areas and building skills with colleagues from around the Northeast, Eastern Canada, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands presents a great opportunity to understand and gather best practices,” said MNA Russell Copeman, Québec, who is serving as CSG/ERC Chairman.
ELA is unique in bringing together officials from the legislative, executive, and judicial branches of state government. These officials rarely cross paths, yet the most important problems demand solutions that cut across the usual boundaries of state government.
The 38 Fellows were chosen by members of the CSG/ERC Executive Committee and ELA alumni based on their leadership potential, including problem-solving and consensus-building skills, dedication to public service, and commitment to improving government institutions.
Information about Senator Robert J. Thompson:
Senator Robert J. Thompson was a beloved and respected state and local government leader whose 30 year career was a model of personal and professional integrity, fairness, optimism and humility whether working on behalf of his constituents of West Chester, the citizens of Pennsylvania or the members of CSG/ERC. As a devoted advocate and Founding Member of the Eastern Leadership Academy (ELA) Board, ELA is named in his memory to honor both his commitment to the highest standards of public service and his key role in having the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and the University of Pennsylvania become the host for this unique regional program.
Information about the Council of State Governments/Eastern Regional Conference:
The non-partisan Council of State Governments is the nation’s only regionally based state services organization working with all three branches of government. The Eastern Regional Conference was established in 1937 and includes Connecticut, Delaware, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Puerto Rico, Rhode Island, Vermont, the U.S. Virgin Islands, as well as the Eastern Canadian provinces of Newfoundland & Labrador, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Ontario, and Québec. The mission of CSG/ERC is to provide a forum for new ideas; promote successful state policy innovations; advocate multi-jurisdictional problem solving; offer leadership training and technical assistance; serve as a catalyst for public/private dialog; forecast policy trends affecting the region; and represent regional interests at the federal level.