Robert M. La Follette School of Public Affairs
Sunday, August 3, 2014

La Follette School to hold 20th leadership training session for legislators

The faces of three new Wisconsin legislators will go on the conference room wall at the La Follette School of Public Affairs later this year.

The three — representatives Amy Loudenbeck, Adam Neylon and Melissa Sargent — are members of the latest class of fellows to attend the Bowhay Institute of Legislative Leadership Development, which meets August 8-11 at the University of Wisconsin–Madison.

Thirty-seven legislators from 11 states and four Canadian provinces will attend the five-day institute, the only leadership training program exclusively for Midwestern legislators. It helps newer legislators develop skills to become effective leaders, informed decision-makers and astute policy analysts.

La Follette has sponsored the institute with the Midwestern Legislative Conference of the Council of State Governments since 1995. Each graduating class is pictured on the wall at La Follette, including more than 50 current and former Wisconsin legislators.

"This is our 20th class, and it is getting crowded up there, " jokes Terry Shelton, outreach director at the La Follette School who has helped plan and execute every single one of the sessions. "We may have to add more walls soon."

But Shelton is serious about the work of the institute itself. He says: "We work hard to come up with the right mix of nationally renowned scholars, professional development experts, and legislative leaders to help these newer legislators develop the skills necessary to become effective leaders, informed decision-makers and astute policy analysts."

This year's agenda includes policy sessions on the regional economy, regulatory reform, infrastructure needs and government-reform initiatives. In addition, the BILLD fellows will participate in professional development sessions on time management, effective communications, and consensus-building and negotiation skills. They also will hear from a panel of current and former legislative leaders from across the region on strategies for being more effective legislators and policymakers.

"In these days of strident partisanship, BILLD offers a chance for lawmakers to talk across the aisle, across state lines and across international borders without regard to party affiliation," Shelton says. "It has proven to be a special program over the years."

Shelton, La Follette School director Susan Yackee, associate director Hilary Shager, outreach specialist Bridget Pirsch and professor emeritus Dennis Dresang will greet the lawmakers at the opening reception at the Governor's Executive Residence, and the session will end with a dinner and graduation ceremony at the Madison Club.