Robert J. Thompson Eastern Leadership Academy

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Aug 28, 2017 No Comments ›› maxinegrad

For Immediate Release

The Council of State Governments Eastern Regional Conference

Robert J. Thompson Eastern Leadership Academy

August 27-31, 2017

(Philadelphia, PA) August 27, 2017 – Lackluster state revenues resulting from sluggish tax revenue growth in the past two fiscal years combined with Congress’ proposed changes to Medicaid could pose significant new costs for states in future years. With the Trump administration’s push for deep cuts to federal funds that flow to state and local governments, state officials are operating in an increasingly challenging environment where state and provincial officials need solid leadership skills more than ever. The Council of State Governments’ Eastern Regional Conference (CSG/ERC)’s Robert J. Thompson Eastern Leadership Academy (ELA) provides policymakers with the tools they need to help their states and provinces thrive in tough times.

Representative Maxine Grad, Chair of the Vermont House Judiciary Committee, is among a select group of 31 state government leaders chosen this year to attend the ELA. The five-day intensive program, located on the campus of the University of Pennsylvania, in Philadelphia, immerses participants in a mix of policy discussions, skills-building workshops and hands-on training to better prepare them for the challenges of governing.  

“As a state official, it is vital to hone my leadership and policy skills to the highest level,” Representative Grad said. “I am proud to be an ELA Fellow and to have the opportunity to enhance my abilities, as well as build a unique network with colleagues across the region. Such personal and professional growth will allow me to better serve the citizens of my state.”

Attendees will include state and provincials from New England, the Mid-Atlantic-states, the U.S. Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico and five eastern Canadian provinces. The program runs from Aug. 27 – 31.

ELA works to develop the next generation of state government leaders through a program that brings together officials from all three branches of state government. Scholars from the University of Pennsylvania and outside experts will lead participants through workshops aimed to improve their ability to prioritize objectives, enhance their communication skills, and hone their leadership and team- building abilities, and polish their social media messaging and outreach to constituents.

“At the pace that new issues challenge state and provincial governments, it is critical to train officials with the cutting-edge skills required to tackle these problems,” Representative Grad said. “That’s the surest way to ensure that issues I care most about get the most effective solutions.”

This year’s program will focus on leadership lessons from senior elected officials, consensus building and conflict resolution, developing relationships with the media, and strategies for time and priority management. ELA Fellows will also work to enhance their personal skills in communicating with the public and solving problems.

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. Participants in the incoming class 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.


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’s Fels Institute of Government become the host for this unique regional program.

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.