hosts & topics

When and where does the Governors’ Institute hold its workshops?
The Governors’ Institute holds three to four workshops per year. Each workshop is expected to last two days and will be held at a mutually acceptable location in the host state.

How does the Governors’ Institute choose a state for a workshop?
The Governors’ Institute will hold workshops only in states where the governor and his or her top staff have requested assistance and where the governor is willing to participate personally in the workshop. The Governors’ Institute staff solicits expressions of interest from governors who want to influence the design of communities in their state. The Governors’ Institute will also consider requests for a joint workshop involving several states that share a common interest in an issue.

In evaluating which governors to work with the Governors’ Institute explores several criteria. These include:

  • the governor’s interest in and commitment to establishing and instituting sustainability principles into the state’s investment and policy decision-making;
  • the potential for significant and lasting policy change at the state level; and
  • the commitment of the administration to support smart growth solutions at the community level.

How does the Governors’ Institute choose a topic for a workshop?
The Governors’ Institute cannot address all issues related to growth and development in a single workshop. The effectiveness of each workshop will be enhanced by selecting a discrete issue of particular importance in your state. The Governors’ Institute staff will work with you in a series of pre-workshop meetings and conversations to determine the most appropriate topic for a workshop based on the needs of your state, the time constraints of the workshop and the expertise the Governors’ Institute is able to provide.

How do I arrange for a Governors’ Institute workshop in my state?
First, the Governors’ Institute requires an expression of interest from a governor or from staff or cabinet on the governor’s behalf. Contact the Governors’ Institute at or (202) 207-3355 x120. The Governors’ Institute is an ongoing, multi-year project, so expressions of interest may be made at any time. There is no application deadline.

Second, after this initial contact, the Governors’ Institute staff will begin a discussion about the way in which the Institute can best serve the needs of your state. You will be asked to provide information on:

  • the topic(s) that the governor and his/her administration would like to address in the workshop;
  • the steps, if any, that have been taken to develop a state-level strategy on land use, housing, development, transportation, land preservation, and community design;plans to further develop such a strategy in coming years;
  • the support and capacity of your state to carry out the recommendations from a workshop; and
  • a sense of how you believe the Governors’ Institute can best contribute to and support this strategy.

Third, a formal request for a workshop must be made in writing and signed by or on behalf of the governor prior to finalizing plans to hold a workshop. The request should propose a set of dates on which the governor and his/her cabinet and staff could be available for the workshop and recommendations for locations in your state that would be acceptable to the governor and his/her cabinet and staff. Once we have agreed upon a date and a topic, we can proceed to prepare for the workshop.

What are the steps in preparing for a workshop?
Prior to the workshop, the Governors’ Institute staff will work with you to research the issue(s) to be addressed in the workshop in the context of your state’s policies and with reference to examples and models from around the country. The purpose of this research will be to determine a specific focus for the workshop and to create background materials for use at the workshop. Your input in determining the focus of the workshop and in providing state-specific background is critically important.

Early in the process, we will arrange a one-on-one meeting between your governor and one of the three former governors who are leading the Governors’ Institute (Governors Whitman and Glendening) for a candid discussion of what the governor hopes to achieve through the workshop and the obstacles he/she faces.

The Governors’ Institute staff will then contact and convene a group of experts and practitioners for the workshop. The Governors’ Institute can call upon a large range of resource people with a wide variety of areas of expertise in order to produce a high-level, effective, focused workshop.