Program Information

Program Goals

Why does the Senior Executive Institute exist?

The world of the public manager and leader is evolving at a speed that baffles and challenges.

Local governments are increasingly being asked to do more with less.
Federal and state support is declining.
Citizens are demanding a more caring, responsive government.
New technology is revolutionizing communication.
To respond to these forces, our local governments must become laboratories for a new style of organization - one grounded in basic democratic values and guided by a collective vision of community-building and empowerment.

To take our communities confidently into the future, public leaders and executives must adopt a proactive approach to change both inside the public organization and outside in the community. They must invest the time and resources required for themselves and their leadership team to create and maintain a continuously improving, learning organization.

What is the SEI learning Experience?

The SEI experience reflects the environment and culture that these programs endorse. The underlying philosophy stresses interactive learning: everyone teaches, everyone learns. In the team setting, participants integrate the separate segments of the program and address individual concerns and strategies.

But leaders need more that theory. The critical components of SEI include clear action plans, the experiences of others in the profession, and ongoing advice from seasoned practitioners. A senior local government manager attends both programs, resides with participants, and serves as a valuable resource and advisor.

Health and Fitness Options
An optional morning fitness program encourages SEI participants to maintain a healthy and fit body and an alert mind capable of coping creatively and positively with change and stress. The University's athletic facilities are available to all participants.

Team Building
An experiential day gives participants a change of pace and the opportunity to explore cooperation, appreciation, and resourcefulness in a natural setting.

"Give about 2 hours everyday to exercise, for health must not be sacrificed to learning. A strong body makes the mind strong."

Program Overview

What is the Senior Executive Institute?

The Senior Executive Institute (SEI) of the Cooper Center for Public Service at the University of Virginia offers an integrated approach to professional development for local government leaders and managers. It consists of a two week class with government leaders from many different communities.

Who is SEI for?

We take local government leaders and anyone who wants to improve their organizations or communities through improved leadership.

When is the next SEI class?

The next class is July 19-31, 2020.



Explore Upcoming Class Dates

What are the class sizes?

Class sizes range from 35 - 40.

Can I bring my friend or spouse?

Social events are an integral component of the learning experience. This makes it difficult for participants to share time with accompanying personal guests/spouses.

Where does SEI take place?

The classes take place in Charlottesville Virginia at the University of Virginia's Darden School of Business Administration and its executive hotel the Inn at Darden. Your accommodations are paid for by your class tuition. You can find out more about the Inn at Darden on their website.

Inn at Darden Site


The address is: 

10 Duffy Blvd, Charlottesville, VA 22903

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What accommodations are provided?

Provided sleeping rooms are single-occupancy, with all the amenities of a first class hotel room. Participants dine together in the Executive dining room. The classroom is located in the Darden Business School.

Are meals provided?

Yes, most meals are provided. You are responsible for weekend meals and a few other meals. Please check the schedule you received after being accepted for more details. 

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Program Content

What is the program curriculum?

Listed below are the general topics and themes that the program covers. For a detailed example curriculum download the pdf schedule below.

  • Cultivating Democratic Values in Public Sector Organizations
  • Political Astuteness: Bridging the Gap Between Politics and Administration
  • Building High Performance Organizations
  • Linking to the Agenda of Elected Officials
  • Facilitated Team Learning
  • The Manager's Evolving Role
  • Signature Leadership
  • Essence of Public Service
  • Myers Briggs Leadership Styles
  • Engagement in the Workforce
  • Organizational Assessment
  • The Learning Cycle/The Learning Organization
  • Leadership at all Levels and the Network Talent Model
  • Micro-businesses in Local Government
  • High Performance Organizations
  • HPO - Parallel Organization
  • Team Development
  • Emotional Intelligence
  • Role of Power

Download Sample SEI Schedule

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Application, Payment and Fees

How do I apply to the SEI program?

You can complete the application online.  Contact Molly Harlow at with any questions.

Is the ICMA-SEI application the same?

No. These are two different programs. The application for the ICMA-SEI program is different from the SEI application. You need to contact Felicia Logan at for that program.

Is there a way I can better my chances of acceptance?

Preference is given to city, town, and county managers. Leadership responsibilities are considered. Recommendation by an SEI alumnus is weighed. Deputy and assistant managers are considered as spaces allows. Department heads of large localities are possible candidates. SEI is highly competitive.

When is the application deadline?

The application deadline is June 1.

When are the payments due?

Full payment is due July 1.

How much does it all cost?

The fee for the 2020 SEI is $8,500. This includes lodging and meals (with the exception of meals during the intervening weekend), and instructional materials. A 10% discount for members of the Virginia Institute of Government. Fee is likely to increase slightly each year.

Are there scholarships I can take advantage of?

Yes. There is The Bob Matson VLGMA Scholarship and The Chuck Church VLGMA Scholarship, both of which you can apply for. Find out more on our application page.

Refunds, Cancellations

Can I get a refund if I decide not to go?

Yes, but a 50% fee assessed for cancellations after July 1.

Can I someone else in my place if I can't go?

Acceptable substitution may be made up to 2 weeks before the start of the program. No refunds after the start of the program. You must contact us to get approval of your substitution. 

ICMA-SEI Program

What is the ICMA-SEI Program?

Sponsored by ICMA University and University of Virginia, this special Senior Executive Institute (SEI) “super session” is a unique opportunity for you to experience the core of the two-week SEI program packed into one week. You will spend valuable class and networking time with members of the “next gen” Leadership ICMA class and with other senior executives and assistants.  The core of the program is the study of leadership and the leaders role in high performance organizations.

Limited to 20 senior executives, the institute offers seven days of intensive, interactive learning alongside 15 members of the "next-gen" Leadership ICMA Class. The curriculum, designed by the faculty at UVA's Weldon Cooper Center for Public Service and Felicia Logan, ICMA's Director of Leadership Development, is varied. Get more info at the ICMA website.

When is the next ICMA-SEI Program?

Stay tuned for dates in 2021

How do I apply?

The application for the ICMA-SEI program is different from the SEI application. Please apply to Felicia Logan at

Please download last year's schedule below as a PDF.

Download Example Schedule

How do I apply to SEI?

You can apply by filling out our online application

Apply Today