The County Voice

The CSAC Institute: Educating, Engaging Our Members

I remember back to February 19, 2009, when we were nearing our first class of the CSAC Institute for Excellence in County Government. Bill Chiat (the newly appointed Institute Dean) and I had a meeting and openly wondered how many participants would attend; we had our fingers crossed this new educational foray would take root. Well, we made it past that first course where we had seven county supervisors in attendance. That number grew to 27 attendees for our second class in March. At that point, we knew we were on to something.

And here we sit more than six years later. The growth and positive impact of the Institute has moved well beyond our initial projections. In fact, today our major concern is ensuring it doesn’t grow too fast and impact the quality of our courses. A nice problem to have.

Our class sizes have increased substantially since those first days; Institute staff often has to close registration for a course and create a waiting list. We have opened up a satellite campus in San Diego County that has been a resounding success. More satellite campuses, tentatively planned for the Central Valley and Bay Area, are on the way. A year from now, we could be holding regular classes in four different parts of the state, making it more convenient for county officials and staff to attend the Institute. We have also been approached by affiliates about developing curriculum and courses specifically for their needs. And I haven’t even touched on our successful Fellows program or joint MPA program with CSU Northridge.

Our curriculum also continues to grow to meet the needs of our diverse membership. A recent course on social media was a resounding success. Other new courses are on the Summer/Fall agenda. In September, we will once again offer a two-day career development workshop for senior county executives in conjunction with the County Administrative Officers Association of California. The following month, the Institute is offering a two-day course on performance management and management accountability – at the request of our “students.”

The Institute is also rolling out “Emerging Issues,” an exciting new series that explores trends in major long-term policy issues. Each of the three classes in this series provides county decision-makers with an opportunity to explore emerging trends and issues with colleagues and experts in the field. This is a great opportunity for county supervisors and senior executives to discuss and interact on key topics. We think it will be a big success.

CSAC’s mission statement focuses on four key words: Advocate, Collaborate, Educate and Communicate. For years, we have offered educational opportunities through our major conferences and biennial New Supervisors Institute. Beyond that, our offerings were few and far between. That’s no longer the case with the CSAC Institute for Excellence in County Government. A county official recently said he believed the CSAC Institute was the premier professional education program for local government officials in the nation. It’s a statement we are proud of and strive daily to meet.

To learn more about the Institute to review the Summer/Fall Course Schedule, click here.

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