Learn the basics of governing a city.

The Elected Leaders Institute Foundational Program is designed to provide elected leaders with the nuts and bolts of city leadership. The program is driven by 10 core competencies that make elected leaders successful, perfect for anyone new to elected office or leaders who wish to brush up on the basics.  

You will become familiar with your new responsibilities via a combination of online, on-demand courses which you complete at your own pace ahead of the two-day in-person program in Plymouth. During the in-person cohort, you will dive deeper in to governing a city with our subject matter experts and meet other elected officials.

Everything you need — from courses and downloadable resources, to connecting with subject matter experts or classroom presentations — will live in MemberLearn: the League’s online learning platform.  

Who should attend?

The Foundational Program is designed for new elected city officials who have served for less than two years. If you are a more experienced elected official, the Advanced Program may be a better fit.

Dates (Foundational):

Jan. 22 – Online Learning begins. Read descriptions of online courses.

Feb. 9-10 – Elected Leaders Institute | Plymouth. See the full agenda for the in-person program. 




Registration is closed for this event.

Lodging Information

Crowne Plaza Minneapolis West
3131 Campus Drive
Plymouth, MN 55441

Phone: (763) 559-6600
Room rate: $117
Make a hotel reservation online or contact the hotel directly. To receive the special room rate via phone, ask for the “League of Minnesota Cities” group block when making reservations.  Book by Jan. 19 to receive this special rate.   

Program Agenda

Online Courses:

Courses should be completed before the in-person program on Feb. 9.

Welcome and MemberLearn Overview. 10 mins.
Review the core competencies for the program and learn about the MemberLearn platform.

City Structure and Roles: 60 mins. Core Competencies: Policymaking; Integrity and Ethics

  • Structure and Function of Cities. Review the different types of cities that operate in Minnesota, how your type of city impacts your role on the council, and city government limitations.
  • Roles and Responsibilities. Outlines the city council and city staff roles in city governance, including properly fulfilling duties under the law and lawfully exercising authority.

Open Meeting Law. 30 mins. Core Competencies: Integrity and Ethics; Communication; Policymaking; Meeting Facilitation

Gain an appreciation for Open Meeting Law! You will start to understand the requirements set forth in the law and get tips on how to work together as a council in making decisions and setting policy.

Public Finance 101 & 201. Core Competency: Financial Literacy
This combination 101 and 201 course will provide the introduction you need to understand city budgeting.

  • Public Finance 101. 10 mins. Learn core concepts of public finance and budgeting basics.
  • Public Finance 201. 20 mins. Dive a little deeper to understand fund accounting, operating budgets, revenue and expenditures, and tax levies, ensuring you are equipped to communicate with confidence about your city budget.

Legal Landscape for Elected Officials: 

  • Risk and Legal Obligations. 30 mins. Core Competencies: Integrity and Ethics; Strategic Planning and Decision Making; Managing Risk
    Explore city operations through a legal lens. This course will help you understand your role in managing legal risk for your city including conflict of interest, data practices, and purchasing missteps.
  • Social Media for Elected Officials: 30 mins. Core Competencies: Communication, Community Engagement, Managing Risk
    Social media is a great tool for communicating and engaging with your community. This course will help you understand the legal considerations of best practices, benefits, and potential pitfalls of social media use as an elected official.

Friday, Feb. 9:

10:15 a.m.
Welcome. Check in opens.

10:45 a.m.
Greeting from Host City and Welcome from League Leadership
Jenny Max, LMC Board President and Nisswa City Manager; Adriana Temali, Learning Manager, League of Minnesota Cities

11 a.m.
Elected Leadership: An Invitation to Make a Positive Difference
Luke Fischer, Executive Director, League of Minnesota Cities
Explore the skills required to be an effective leader, including how values and ethics help shape your personal leadership style and set a course for your public service career.
Core Competencies: Integrity and Ethics; Strategic Planning and Decision-Making; Servant Leadership Mindset

12 p.m.
Networking Lunch

1 p.m.
Good Governance and Open Meeting Law
Amber Eisenschenk, Research Manager, League of Minnesota Cities
There is a lot to learn as you get started in local government. This session builds on what you learned during the MemberLearn course, walking you through common Open Meeting Law challenges elected officials face. Ask questions, hear from others, and work through scenarios.
Core Competencies: Integrity and Ethics; Communication; Policymaking; Meeting Facilitation

2:15 p.m.

2:30 p.m.
Public Finance in Context
Mark Ruff, Director of Finance, League of Minnesota Cities; Lisa Sova, Assistant Finance Director (Outreach), League of Minnesota Cities
Building on what you learned in Public Finance 101/102, participants will have the chance to put theory into practice through discussion and examining common financial situations. Practice with other participants during breakouts, where you will get a chance to share questions and hear from others.
Core Competency: Financial Literacy

3:45 p.m.

4 p.m.
Advocacy at the Capitol
Intergovernmental Relations Team, League of Minnesota Cities
In this session you will identify the role you and the League play in lobbying at the Capitol. Understand the League’s policy development process, gain tips for communicating with legislators, discover models and toolkits available to city councils, and become familiar with the way Minnesota cities impact Washington D.C.
Core Competencies: Policymaking, Communication

4:30 p.m.
Social Time

5:30 p.m.
Dinner with the Advanced Program cohort

6:30 p.m.

Saturday, Feb. 10:

7:45 a.m. – 8:20 a.m.
Continental Breakfast

8:30 a.m.
Risk and Legal Obligations for Cities in Context
Patricia Beety, General Counsel, League of Minnesota Cities
Revisit common legal scenarios that elected leaders may face, including considerations around social media. Practice with other participants during breakouts, where you will get a chance to share questions and hear from others.
Core Competencies: Integrity and Ethics, Strategic Planning and Decision-Making, Managing Risk

9:45 a.m.

10 a.m.
Elected Leaders Panel
Moderator: Dan Greensweig, Administrator, League of Minnesota Cities Insurance Trust
Panel: Jenny Max, Nisswa City Administrator and League Board President; Wendy Berry, West St. Paul Council Member and Second Vice President of League Board; Luke Hellier, Mayor, Lakeville
A perennial favorite! Learn from a panel of experienced elected and appointed officials about the expectations and duties of an elected official. Share your challenges and get tips on how to be successful in your critical city role.
Core Competencies: Community Engagement, Equity and Inclusion, Strategic Planning and Decision-Making

11 a.m.
The Power of Purpose
Charles Weinstein, Ethical Leaders in Action
All local government leaders want their communities to thrive – it provides a sense of purpose in our work. But how do you sustain yourself without burning out or burning bridges? How do you consistently engage others in a pursuit of common goals that put your city, staff, and community first?  This interactive session will present practical skills and techniques that will help you act with integrity, honesty, and fairness while strengthening relationships and building trust.
Core Core Competencies: Integrity and Ethics, Servant Leadership Mindset

12 p.m.
Closing Remarks