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Public Service Leadership Academy's

Leadership Development Program!

Now accepting applications for Spring 2020!

Our Vision: Our Vision is to develop effective and inspiring Public Service leaders who are committed to making a difference in peoples’ lives and have the tools to do so. 

Toward this vision, we focus on the whole person, utilizing challenging learning experiences to encourage leaders as they push beyond their comfort zone and expand their leadership capacity.


The PSLA LDP is comprised of six training sessions over a 7-month period (from April 2020 - October 2020).

  • Session 1: Foundations of Public Service Leadership (3 days in Philadelphia, PA; April 14-16, 2020)

  • Session 2: Leading People (2 days in Washington, DC; May 20 & 21, 2020)

  • Session 3: Leading Change (2 days in Washington, DC; June 10 & 11, 2020)

  • Session 4: Driving Results (2 days in Denver, CO; July 22 & 23, 2020) 

  • Session 5: Building Partnerships (2 days in Washington, DC; September 1 & 2, 2020)

  • Session 6: Application & Graduation (3 days in Washington, DC; October 6-8, 2020)

    Topics that will be covered throughout these sessions include presentation skills, conflict management, business case development, inspiring others, adversarial partnerships and creating a culture of innovation and customer experience.

Cost: Early bird price: $7,500 plus travel due by December 16, 2019!

Regular price: $9,000 plus travel due by February 17, 2020!

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John Riordan will serve as the Lead Coach for the program. John brings 20+ years of professional leadership development experience, a passion for making a difference in the world, and a life-long commitment to building leaders who want to make that difference happen.

Martha Dorris, Founder, brings 30+ years of Public Service experience and hard-earned wisdom to the PSLA. Throughout the the program, she will share her experience and insights with other leaders who want to grow their capacity.

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​The PSLA Leadership Program is a "Boot Camp" model that is a, consistently challenging students "out of their comfort zone experience" from day 1 and throughout.

  • Experiential learning: Participants will take part in practical training exercises that give them the opportunity to “experience” leadership challenges and actually practice their leadership skills in the most challenging areas.  For example, a the Shark Tank model will be used as a typical approach throughout the program.

  • Coaching, challenge & support: The small cohort allows for personalized input from the lead Coach, John Riordan, as well as Peer Coaches (fellow public servants with leadership development experience), and peers.  Feedback on strengths, areas for development and progress will be provided to participants at every session.

  • Individual Coaching: In addition to the training sessions, the program will include two 1-hr Individual Coaching sessions – one early in the process to establish goals, and one at the end to assess progress and set a path forward.

  • Holistic development:  In addition to building fundamental leadership skills, participants will be encouraged to strengthen their physical, relational and financial well-being as part of their overall program experience.

  • Supervisory (or Sponsor) involvement: Participants will get input from their Supervisors regarding leadership development objectives and applying the learning to real challenges in the workplace.

  • Peer Coaches: Participants will receive feedback, support and coaching from experienced Civil Servants who have themselves grown as leaders.

  • Networking: At various points in the program, participants will have the opportunity to build relationships with high performing fellow Civil Servants from a wide variety of agencies and backgrounds.

  • Video-taping of presentations will be used as a means of providing feedback.

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  1. Challenge government leaders to fully utilize their strengths and address areas that require reinforcement.

  2. Bring a fresh 21st century perspective and learning techniques to build capacity in the most challenging leadership skills.

  3. Arm each leader with tools and techniques to address critical challenges –  building the confidence to drive change, inspire others, overcome obstacles and produce valuable results.

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  1. Rigorous study of fundamental leadership principles

  2. Honest self-assessment

  3. Experiential training

  4. Coaching (both professional and peer coaching)

  5. Learning from experienced leaders

  6. Observation and feedback

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  1. Public servants with team leader and/or supervisory experience or equiv.

  2. Typically GS-14s and 15s, although GS-13s may qualify based on their leadership experience

  3. Open to federal, state and local government participants


If you want to increase your leadership skills and are willing to step out of your comfort zone in a safe environment to confront areas you find challenging, this program is for you.  Coming away from the program, we’re confident you will have an increased capacity to:

  • Define and sustain a renewed pride in and motivation for public service

  • Communicate powerfully with others

  • Inspire others with a compelling vision for the future

  • Better understand and engage diverse colleagues, partners and public

  • Manage conflict in a productive manner

  • Create a culture of innovation

  • Sustain a customer-focused culture

  • Build and leverage partnerships and networks


Our intention is that participants use this time to learn about themselves and push themselves beyond anything they imagined they could do.  To that end, we expect you to:

  1. Come with an open mind and willingness to take risks – to challenge yourself, be challenged by others, and to challenge others in return

  2. Respect your fellow participants and contribute to their growth as leaders

  3. Give constructive feedback to your peers and receive constructive feedback from your peers

All applications and any questions you may have should be emailed to Martha Dorris at!  

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