Cultivating Leadership Through CSG

Whether a first-time elected official or a veteran policymaker, all members of The Council of State Governments share in common a distinguishing characteristic. By their very nature, state elected and appointed officials have demonstrated leadership—in their professions, in their communities, in their aims to strengthen their states. 

CSG is made of leaders.

But leadership is a quality that must be cultivated continually—tended to and tested in an effort not only to maintain it, but to make it grow. And that’s part of what distinguishes CSG. 

CSG is committed to helping leaders grow. Here are a few opportunities we hope you’ll consider to grow as a leader through CSG.

CSG Henry Toll Fellowship 

Aug. 25–30, 2017 | Lexington, Kentucky

Application Deadline: April 23, 2017

Each year, the CSG Henry Toll Fellowship, named in honor of CSG founder Henry Wolcott Toll, brings together a group of rising state leaders to Lexington, Kentucky, for an intense week of leadership training. Participants are encouraged to both evaluate and adapt the way they interact with each other and the world around them—setting aside titles, politics and party lines. Designed to help state officials from all three branches take an introspective look at how they view themselves as public servants, colleagues and community members, the program provides a unique experience unlike any other in the nation. 

The CSG Henry Toll Fellowship targets outstanding rising state government officials from all three branches of government. Elected, appointed and merit officials may all apply. The Toll Fellowship is designed as a “graduate” level program complementing leadership development programs offered by CSG’s regional offices. It is, therefore, suggested but not required that applicants first complete their respective regional program.

The list of Toll Fellow alumni is long and distinguished. Past Tolls have achieved great success including serving as governors, secretaries of state, chief justices, speakers and in the U.S. Congress.

For more information and to apply for the CSG Toll Fellowship, contact or visit


CSG Regional Leadership Development Programs

CSG East/Eastern Regional Conference

Eastern Leadership Academy

Aug. 27–31, 2017 | Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Application Deadline: May 15, 2017

Named for Pennsylvania state Sen. Robert J. Thompson—a beloved state and local government leader whose 30-year career was a model of personal and professional integrity, fairness, optimism and humility—the Robert J. Thompson Eastern Leadership Academy, or ELA, annually brings together as many as 30 state and provincial officials from the 18 Eastern region member jurisdictions. This select group of state officials, from all three branches of government, receives training to enhance their leadership and communication skills from a variety of experts in media, education and government.

Held in partnership with the Fels Institute of Government, ELA is a unique opportunity to learn with the best and the brightest from across the region.

The ELA is designed for legislators, as well as legislative staff, executive branch and judicial branch officials, primarily in the early-mid stages of their government careers.

For more information and to apply, please visit


CSG Midwest/Midwestern Legislative Conference

Bowhay Institute for Legislative Leadership Development, or BILLD

Aug. 11–15, 2017 | Minneapolis, Minnesota

Application Deadline: April 5, 2017 

Each summer, 37 lawmakers from the 11 member states of CSG Midwest and its affiliate members gather for a unique five-day educational experience, the Bowhay Institute for Legislative Leadership Development, or BILLD. Named in honor of the first director of CSG Midwest, the late James Bowhay, the Bowhay Institute is the only leadership training program designed exclusively for Midwestern legislators. BILLD helps newer legislators develop the skills necessary to become effective leaders, informed decision-makers and astute policy analysts. The program offers a unique opportunity for lawmakers to improve their leadership skills and explore the issues of the day with nationally renowned scholars, professional development experts, and legislative leaders and colleagues from across the region.

In addition to its focus on leadership training, covering topics such as conflict resolution and negotiation, BILLD includes policy sessions on issues ranging from education and corrections to health care and economic development.

The BILLD program is conducted by CSG's Midwestern Office in cooperation with The Center for the Study of Politics and Governance at the University of Minnesota's Humphrey School of Public Affairs. Fellowships are awarded on a competitive, nonpartisan basis by a steering committee of legislators from the region.

For more information and to apply, please visit


CSG South/Southern Legislative Conference

The Center for the Advancement of Leadership Skills, or CALS

Oct. 14–18, 2017 | Little Rock, Arkansas

Application Deadline: July 28, 2017

The Center for the Advancement of Leadership Skills, or CALS, seeks to create skilled, educated and confident state leaders by developing and enhancing core competencies that play a vital role in the service of public officials, in both professional and personal arenas. CALS prepares emerging and mid-career legislative, executive and judicial branch state leaders for their roles in state government.

Through activities and instruction focusing on the leadership program’s four central components—communication, conflict resolution, consensus building and critical decision-making—CALS scholars have an opportunity to reinforce and refine these crucial skills.
To be considered for a scholarship to attend the 2017 CALS program, candidates must submit:

• An application form

• A cover letter expressing why the applicant should be considered as a candidate for the CALS program

• Two letters of recommendation from state government colleagues

• A biographical summary

For more information and to apply for the CALS leadership program, please visit


CSG West 

Western Legislative Academy 

Nov. 29–Dec. 2, 2017 | Colorado Springs, Colorado

Application Deadline: April 28, 2017

Each year CSG West brings together a distinguished national faculty to offer the West’s premier training experience for Western state legislators in their first four years of service. The goals of the Western Legislative Academy, or WLA, are to help newer legislators become more effective and to build stronger state legislative institutions. To that end, a faculty of outstanding academics, corporate, military and public trainers work with a small class of lawmakers who come from each of our 13 Western states. Members of the academy are selected on the basis of their dedication to public service, desire to improve personal legislative effectiveness and commitment to the institution of the legislature. 

The WLA reinforces CSG West's mission to provide opportunities for Western state legislators to share good ideas across state borders.

For more information and to apply for the WLA program, please visit