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Members Corner: New Opportunities Offered Through the Local Elected Leaders Academy 

By Rob Shepherd, NCLM Assistant Director of Business Management and
Membership Development Services

Hopefully by now, you are familiar with the Local Elected Leaders Academy,
or LELA. LELA is a one of a kind partnership between the NC League of Municipalities, the NC Association of County Commissioners and the UNC School of Government to provide education and training to municipal and county elected officials. To my knowledge, no other program like this exists in the United States, with three statewide organizations having made a commitment to voluntarily collaborate with each other to provide a wide range of educational and training opportunities for local elected officials. The LELA program is largely guided by two underlying principles: elected officials do not govern alone; and, elected officials must be ready to lead strategically, think creatively, and act collaboratively in order to deal with today’s challenging issues.

As an individual elected municipal official, one must work with others on the governing body, with municipal staff and with members of the community to get things done. Likewise, elected municipal officials often work with other elected officials such as county commissioners, as well as state and federal officials, on issues of regional, statewide and national importance. Additionally, elected officials must look for new strategies and creative ways to work collaboratively with one another to address the needs of their communities and to plan for the future.

The training and education offered through LELA provides opportunities to bring municipal and county elected officials together throughout the year. Doing so, these sessions encourage and promote new strategic, creative and collaborative opportunities to address the challenges that many local elected officials face today and will face in the future.

For quite some time, it has been the intent of the LELA program to develop
an ongoing curriculum and to publish, in advance, a calendar of education and
training opportunities that will better enable elected officials to plan and budget for upcoming LELA programs. It gives me great pleasure to announce that this has been accomplished and that the LELA education and training curriculum is now scheduled out as far as June 2017. The goal is for this calendar to provide information on training and educational opportunities at least one year in advance.

Some highlights are as follows: “Public-Private Partnerships for Revitalization in North Carolina Communities,” which will be offered during the NCLM CityVision 2016 annual conference held in October in Raleigh; “Group Decision Traps and How to Avoid Them,” offered in November; and, “People and Jobs on the Move: Implications for North Carolina’s Competitiveness,” led by Dr. James Johnson with the UNC Kenan-Flagler Business School and to be held in four different locations across the state during January and February 2017. Many other topics – ranging from strategic planning for elected officials to manager evaluations and board assessments to crisis communications – will be covered.

The LELA program also recognizes elected officials commitment to life-long
learning by awarding certificates to those who complete specified courses and
attend prerequisite hours of training for each certification level. Each year during the months of October and November, the League provides individual reports and certificates to the elected officials who have participated in the LELA workshops.

For information about the LELA program, links to the LELA calendar, and information about the certificate recognition program, please visit or search “Local Elected Leaders Academy” on the NCLM website. Or, you may contact Rob Shepherd, Assistant Director of Business & Member Development Services at rshepherd@nclm.or or 919-715-9767.