Henry Toll Fellowship Program

As director of the West Virginia Equal Employment Opportunity Office, Jann Hoke is responsible for training on issues related to equal opportunities and employment. She used to present a two-hour lecture on changes in the law and what’s new from the state Supreme Court and her office. The training is targeted to equal employment opportunity counselors, who may work in human resources or in another role for their agency. “In the past,” she said, “I’ve been very rigid about the way I presented the law and changes in the law. “Not only was it boring, but it wasn’t helping them do their job.” All of that changed last summer. Hoke was a 2013 Council of State Governments Toll Fellow and learned enough about herself through the leadership training to discover that she needed to change things. She thought her leadership style was more free, “more loosey, goosey,” as she puts it. It turned out that her leadership fell more along the lines of a play-by-the-rules, more rigid style.

Sannie Overly made history this year. The 2013 Council of State Governments Henry Toll Fellow became the first woman elected to a leadership position in the Kentucky House of Representatives. Even though it's not always easy, Overly encourages young men and particularly young women to pursue a role in public service.

South Dakota Revenue Secretary Andy Gerlach, a 2013 CSG Henry Toll Fellow, has seen his experience in government help him other arenas—such as when he was deployed to Afghanistan with the National Guard. “You can take a lot of lessons in government—working with different agencies, different areas of government, state, local and federal, and the different branches, and try to come together with a common approach,” he said.

Nevada Assemblyman Jason Frierson has learned a few lessons in leadership as he’s represented people, from his grade school classmates to the constituents in his Las Vegas-area district. “Sometimes, the best leader is one who lets everybody get credit,” he said. “It’s less about credit and more about results.”

One semester in the early 1970s, when he was supposed to be in classes at Oklahoma State University, Richard Opper hitchhiked his way around the country. He visited almost every state but knew immediately when it was time to stop looking. “From my very first footstep on Montana soil, I knew I was going to live here,” said Opper, now the director of the Montana Department of Public Health and Human Services and a 2012 CSG Toll Fellow. “If you’d ever been here, you understand why.”