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Local Governance Summer Institute @ Stanford

Memorial church

Local Governments are the new hotbeds of policy innovation and governance most affecting people's day-to-day lives in the United States. They are the epicenters of societal transformation occurring in the global rush towards smart, zero emissions and carbon neutral futures.  Local governments are providing policy leadership on issues of national and global significance such as equity, climate change, and broader sustainability. These new rolls require strong, innovative, and inclusive leadership from local government executives.


LGSI@Stanford offers city managers, county executives, regional directors, and other senior local government officials the opportunity to exchange and acquire tools for improving local government performance and enhancing prospective analytical capacity to innovate and anticipate societal change. This program will strengthen individual capacities in public finance, negotiating and strategic planning skills, while exposing participants to innovative solutions and technological advance supporting the emergence of smarter, more resilient, sustainable, and equitable communities in California and around the world.

Stanford University faculty, Silicon Valley visionaries, and highly experienced leaders in the local government management profession challenge participants to consider long-view policy considerations and issues, such as technological advances and the transition to a low carbon economy in local government decision-making, while at the same time addressing current challenges facing our communities. Themes covered have included strategic thinking in problem solving, smart financial management practices, community engagement, ethical practice and negotiations skills, regional energy transition and water management policy challenges, smart transport and urban infrastructure upgrading to enhance economic competitiveness at the local and regional level, and many others.

Each year the program selects a set of salient and pressing challenges for local government and brings together Stanford, industry, and local governance experts to help participants innovate appropriate solutions for their communities. For the 2021 program, these will include the challenges of Covid-19 for local governments, equity and inclusiveness, navigating community advocacy group engagement, public safety reform, adaptive planning for wildfires and wildfire smoke impacts, and public housing and homelessness.

LGSI@Stanford fosters active participation and provokes insightful discussion and debate on public management issues. The program has temporarily adapted to the Covid-19 pandemic by transforming the 2021 seminar into a hybrid virtual/in-person program. The virtual component of the program will consist of live, day-long online modules once a week for five weeks beginning the last Friday of September.  Additional asynchronous lecture and media content will be provided for participants to pursue in-between live sessions at their own pace.  At the onset of the program, participants will be paired with an expert mentor with whom they will virtually meet at select intervals throughout the seminar. The week after the last virtual module, we will hold a three-day, in-person closing workshop and culmination dinner event in the stimulating environment of Stanford University, Silicon Valley and the San Francisco Bay Area where participants can network and meet with their fellow cohort, instructors, and LGSI alumni, contingent upon evolving Covid-19 risk and State and local policy.

Applications are now open for the 2021 institute.  Admission reviews will be conducted throughout the summer until we reach capacity.

Opening virtual orientation: Thursday, September 23rd from 5-7pm

Virtual instruction days: Friday, September 24th from 9-5pm and four subsequent Fridays, ending on October 22nd.

In-person seminar culmination (planned): October 27th, 28th, and 29th @ Stanford.


Virtual: September 23, 24, October 1, 8, 15, and 22

In-person: October 27 (afternoon), 28, 29

  • Leadership, Innovation & Change in Local Government
  • Problem Solving and Strategic Thinking
  • Economic Prospective Analysis
  • Sustainability and Local Government Action
  • Evolving Challenges Covid-19 for Local Governments
  • Public Finance and Budgeting
  • Clean Disruption and Transport Innovation
  • Smarter Communities
  • Negotiations
  • Building Equity and Inclusivity
  • Community Engagement
  • Navigating Community Advocacy Group Engagement
  • Federal & Local Cooperation on Energy and Environment
  • The Future of Energy
  • Ethics and Public Service
  • Public Safety Reform
  • Politics & Institutions
  • Infrastructure of the Future
  • Governance and Problem Solving: The Water Challenge in California
  • Adaptive planning for Wildfires and Wildfire Smoke Impacts
  • Innovation and Economic Development
  • High-Tech, Entrepreneurship and Growth
  • Smart Growth & Planning
  • Public Housing and Homelessness
  • Investment, Policy and Innovation for Job Creation


Tuition is $6,500. It includes instruction and all materials. 

Bruce E. Cain, Spence and Cleone Eccles Family Director, Bill Lane Center for the American West

The distinguished political scientist Bruce E. Cain is the Spence and Cleone Eccles Family Director of the Bill Lane Center for the American West, and Charles Louis Ducommun Professor in Humanities and Sciences. Professor Cain succeeded the Center's founding faculty co-director, David M. Kennedy, and is tasked with carrying on the Center's study of the past, present and future of the American West.Professor Cain brings a wealth of experience in U.S. and California politics. A pioneer in computer-assisted redistricting, he is a well-known expert on elections, term limits, polling, and the relationships between lobbyists and elected officials. He is a frequently cited source in media coverage of politics.




Sally M. Benson, Co-Director, Stanford Precourt Institute for Energy; Director, Global Climate & Energy Project, Stanford University

Sally M. Benson, who joined Stanford University in 2007, is the co-director of the Stanford Precourt Institute for Energy and the director of the Global Climate and Energy Project (GCEP). A Professor in the Department of Energy Resources Engineering in the School of Earth, Energy & Environmental Sciences, she studies technologies and pathways to reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

Prior to joining GCEP, Benson was a staff scientist in the Earth Sciences Division at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (LBNL). In 2004, she completed a four-year term as Deputy Director of Operations at the lab. Benson also served as Division Director for Earth Sciences and Associate Laboratory Director for Energy Sciences at LBNL.

A groundwater hydrologist and reservoir engineer, Benson has conducted research to address a range of issues related to energy and the environment. Her research interests include geologic storage of CO2 in deep underground formations, technologies and energy systems for a low-carbon future, and geotechnical instrumentation for subsurface characterization and monitoring.


Blas L. Pérez Henríquez, Faculty Director of the LGSI

Pérez Henríquez is the faculty director of the Local Governance Summer Institute @ Stanford (LGSI). He founded and serves as director of the California Global Energy, Water & Infrastructure Innovation Initiative at Stanford University, sponsored by the Bill Lane Center for the American West and the Precourt Institute for Energy. His research and teaching focuses on advancing innovative technological, business, policy, and social solutions for a new clean economy and a carbon neutral future.

Pérez Henríquez is a Distinguished Professor at the School of Engineering and Sciences of the Technological Institute of Superior Studies of Monterrey (ITESM) in Monterrey, Nuevo Leon, Mexico, and visiting faculty at Imperial College in London, United Kingdom. He has served as Senior Visiting Research Fellow at the Grantham Research Institute on Climate and the Environment at the London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE) in London, United Kingdom, and as Guest Professor at the Centre of Economics Research and Teaching (CIDE) in Mexico City, Mexico.

He is the author of “Environmental Commodities and Emissions Trading: Towards a Low Carbon Future,” Resources for the Future – RFF Press/Routledge, Washington, DC (2013) and co-editor of “Carbon Governance, Climate Change and Business Transformation,” Routledge Advances in Climate Change Research, Taylor & Francis Group, Oxford, UK (2015). Most recently co-edited: "High-Speed Rail and Sustainability, Decision-making and the political economy of investment," Routlege Explorations in Environmental Studies, Taylor & Francis Group, Oxford, UK (2017). He has written on public-private environmental and energy collaboration in Silicon Valley, the use of information technology to support environmental markets and smart policymaking, as well as about innovative policy and technological solutions at the water-energy nexus in California.

For questions about the content or structure of the program, please contact Blas Pérez Henríquez at or Joshua Dimon at

The California Local Governance Summer Institute @ Stanford is a project of the California-Global Energy, Water & Infrastructure Innovation Initiative sponsored by the Stanford Precourt Institute for Energy and the Bill Lane Center for the American West.


LGSI 2021 Brochure