Leadership for the Government Executive: 25th Cohort

Leadership for the Government Executive: 25th Cohort
Co-Founder Clark Kelso Calls for 'Courageous Leadership'

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A signature leadership program in the College of Continuing Education reached a milestone in 2017. Leadership for the Government Executive (LGE) celebrated its 25th cohort graduation in April.

“Our graduates improve government in California” and stand out as “more valuable and attractive candidates for promotion,” said Clark Kelso, one of LGE’s co-founders and an associate dean at McGeorge School of Law, who delivered the keynote address.

Kelso called on the roomful of leaders to commit to personal integrity and “to keep pushing your own envelope in developing leadership skills” because government, he added, “needs courageous leadership.”

With Kelso’s support, LGE began in 2006 and was soon followed by two additional public sector programs: Leadership for the Government Manager (LGM) and Leadership for the Government Supervisor (LGS).

Together, the three programs comprise The Portfolio, and to date has produced a total of 1,308 graduates in 11 years, 573 from LGE alone.

“This program was valuable because I was able to look at myself, the good things and the bad things about myself as a leader, and I think I reflected.” – Steve Taketa, LGE graduate

Dottie Lofstrom, division chief with the state Environmental Protection Agency, was one of the 25th cohort graduates. “All my career I’ve been trying to find out, ‘What does it really mean to be a leader?’ And I found out in this course, not just words, but tools and practical tips that I began to use immediately in my job,” she related.

Lofstrom’s most useful tool was something called “model the way,” essentially being a person who kept her word. “So I started practicing that and making sure all my commitments were met, and I saw a difference right away and so did my staff,” she said. “When I started keeping my commitments, everyone else did too.”

Graduate Steve Taketa, bureau chief in the state Controller’s Office, has been through leadership programs before but “they weren’t as reflective,” he noted. “This program was valuable because I was able to look at myself, the good things and the bad things about myself as a leader, and I think I reflected.”

Of the leadership techniques he learned, leading with his heart left the biggest impression for Taketa. “I really need to work on that every day,” he said, and especially in appreciating his staff. “It made me aware I need to work harder to appreciate things. Sometimes I get so bogged down with getting things done, and I don’t really do that.”

The government executives came from different state agencies and during the eight-month program they networked with one another, collaborated on projects and got “better results sharing information,” said graduate Fred Campbell-Craven, deputy chief counsel at the Franchise Tax Board. 

Leading with his heart resonated with Campbell-Craven as well. “I think it’s a real honor and privilege to be able to serve the people of the state of California. I can think of no higher calling,” he said.

LGE’s 25th cohort was sponsored by Katie Hagen, deputy director in the California Department of Human Resources (CalHR), who has referred hundreds of state employees for professional development. Public sector leadership programs “are invaluable to civil servants as they lead the way in state government,” Hagen said. And she speaks from experience as an LGE graduate.

At the close of the graduation, instructor Keirsten Quest offered these thoughts:

“I’ve had the opportunity to support the state of California in leadership programs for over 13 years. And it is a true honor because every time I spend the day with leaders, I am reminded of the impact they can have on the state I love so much and where my family lives. If I can play a small role in helping the leaders of California improve their effectiveness in delivering the services they provide, I’m not only helping the state but I also serve my own family. And that means a lot to me.”

To learn more, please visit Leadership for the Government Executive and The Portfolio on the College of Continuing Education website.