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Three-Day Intensive Workshop for Local Government Practitioners

July 28-30, 2017 

In response to growing interest from local leaders, the Pepperdine School of Public Policy and the Davenport Institute for Public Engagement and Civic Leadership have developed a professional certificate program that offers a deep dive into public engagement at the local level.

In an age where trust in government (and indeed in all institutions) is at an all time low, and indifference toward local government is at an all time high, the very future of local representative democracy requires leaders with a new skill – an ability to break through cynicism and mistrust and engage residents in local policy. From public safety, to city budgets and spending, to planning and environmental policies, today's challenges need leaders who can re-vitalize public involvement and lead residents engaged in the difficult work of self-government.

The first program of it's kind at a US university, this professional certificate draws on the expertise of the Davenport Institute, which over the past decade has become a leader in equipping local governments for legitimate public engagement. The Davenport Institute has impacted over 117 municipalities across California, including providing over 40 funded-service grants in support of public engagement. Last year, the Institute also launched How Are We Doing? a platform for evaluating local civic engagement efforts and recognizing agencies that are taking great strides in the field.

Over this long-weekend at our Malibu campus, mid-career professionals will be equipped to lead a publicly-engaged organization by gaining a deep understanding of the context, purpose, and best practices for engaging residents in the decisions that affect their lives and communities. Participants will receive instruction from current and former city managers and thought leaders in civic engagement as well as School of Public Policy faculty.

Click Here for more information on this event.



August 22, 2016: Sr. Fellow Rod Gould authored "A Scorecard for Public Engagement" on where he explored how the Davenport Institute Public Engagement Platform is helping local governments evaluate their public engagement efforts and be recognized for the good work that they do.

August 2, 2016: Sr. Fellow Pete Peterson spoke on a panel on civic engagement at the "American Citizens Summit" - a free online event featuring respected political leaders, grassroots visionaries, business pioneers, change agents, and advocates who are leading the way to actualize the full power of democracy by building bridges across divides.For more information, please visit You can hear Pete's panel here. This recording is a copyright of The Shift Network. All rights reserved. 

July 27, 2016: Sr. Fellow Rod Gould authored "Public Engagement: How is your Agency Doing" on Public CEO where he explored what a "Platinum" level public engaged city looks like. 

July 1, 2016: Sr. Fellow Pete Peterson authored "The Greatest Public Leadership Transition in American History" in Real Clear Policy discussing the topic of the "Silver Tsunami", where more than half of senior-level managers in the public sector are due to retire from local and state governments across the country to the federal government.

May 13, 2016: Pete Peterson provided a testimony titled  "CA Assembly Committee on Civic Engagement"  in downtown Los Angeles, speaking on local and neighborhood engagement efforts.

March 21, 2016:  Executive Director Ashley Trim published "Public Engagement: A Vital Leadership Skill" in the peer-reviewed eJournal of Public Affairs through Missouri State where she looked at how schools of public policy and public administration should be preparing leaders in public engagement.  

September 24, 2015: Pete Peterson authored "DMV: Department of Motor . . . Voting?" in Fox and Hounds where he looks at how unprepared the California DMV is to take on the responsibilities imposed by AB 1461. 

June 28, 2015: Pete Peterson authored "Bold Innovation Offers Hope for Government" in the Orange County Register where he looked at the importance of innovative public leaders in the 21st Century.

February 3, 2015: Pete Peterson authored "A Party for Citizens and Customers" in Fox and Hounds where he discusses the dual role of residents in relation to government, and why we need a new politics that seeks to address and collaborate with residents in both of these roles. 

January 11, 2015: Pete Peterson authored "A Statue Called 'California' Offers a Metaphor for its Namesake" in the Sacramento Bee in which he explores the chasm between policymakers and politicians on California's fiscal future.

October 15, 2014: Pete Peterson coauthored an op-ed with Fred Smoller in the Sacramento Bee, "Expand Voting by Mail and Make it Easier, but Don't Ditch Polling Places" in which they discussed the increase in voting-by-mail and its implications for politics in California.  

October 9, 2014: Pete Peterson wrote "Millenial Civic Engagement: Know the Challenges" featured by California Fwd, in which he explores the challenges facing Millenial civic engagement and ways the State of California can address these challenges through technological, transparency, and education innovations.

September 26 2014: Pete Peterson coauthored an op-ed with Fred Smoller in the Sacramento Bee, "Confronting Crisis in Civic Education" in which they discussed the importance of including local government and community politics in K-12 Civic Learning.

June 29, 2014: Ashley Trim authored "Who Stole My Polling Place?" in Zocalo Public Square in which she shares how her rural Los Angeles County precinct became vote-by-mail only in the June primary and what effect that may have on low voter turnout and other voting issues.  

June 23, 2014: Pete Peterson authored an op-ed in the Los Angeles Times, "Why Californians Don't Vote," wherein he discussed the low voter turnout in California's June 3 primary and references a study conducted by the Davenport Institute and the National Conference on Citizenship on reasons Californians say they don't vote.

April 25, 2014: Pete Peterson coauthored an article with Kevin Klowden in City Journal, "Democrats v. Unions?" where they discuss what could become a central issue in California politics: the fracturing of the coalition between Democrats and their public-employee union allies. 

January 29, 2014: Pete Peterson authored "California's 20th Century 'Voting Experience'" on the Hoover Institution's "Eureka" blog.  The essay looks at how to improve voting processes and technology in California.  

January 16, 2014: Pete Peterson authored "From Luisville to Baltimore: US citizens are helping to run their cities" in The Guardian where he looks at how local governments are using technology to engage the public on challenging and important decisions. 

January 8, 2014: Ashley Trim authored "Government Bureaucracy's Fear of Failure Doomed HealthCare.Gov" on Zocalo Public Square where she discusses the issues with the failure of and how California citizens and governments can learn from them in the culture of a digital age.

September 11, 2013: Pete Peterson authored "Did Democracy Bankrupt Our Cities?" on Zocalo Public Square where he argues that self-government at the local level is in need of a tune-up. 

June 10, 2013: Pete Peterson authored "The Trust Issue: The Problem with Government Isn't Its Size" on Pacific Standard where he argues that conservatives, as defenders of institutions, are in a unique position to deal with mistrust of government, but that it requires a shift in focus. 

May 15, 2013: Pete Peterson authored "Internet Republic" in CityJournal, a review of Lt. Governor Gavin Newsom's new book "Citizenville."

January 25, 2013: Pete Peterson authored "In a Way, Judges Rule on Partisanship at SoS" on Fox & Hounds Daily wherein he discusses the recent ruling of the 3rd Circuit Cout on the Constitutionality of AB 1499.

December 7, 2012: Pete Peterson wrote "Controller Chiang's Public Pay Site: A First Step Towards Transparency" for Fox & Hounds Daily on the state controller's launch of a revised public sector pay website  

December 5, 2012: Ashley Trim authored the piece "Smart Meters vs. Social Capital" for City Journal California about the loss of community due to the latest in parking technology.

November 30, 2012: Pete Peterson authored "If You Engage Them, Will They Come?" on Zocalo Public Square, where he looks at the challenges of bringing people to the table and lays out seven rules for successful engagement.

November 3, 2012: Pete Peterson wrote "Jerry Brown Meets the Voter of the Future" published in the Hoover Institute's Eureka blog in which he discusses why the 30-second television advertising is not able to reach 21st century voters.

September 20, 2012: Pete Peterson wrote "Palo Alto's 'Open Budget': What Transparency Looks Like - Part II" published in Fox & Hounds which takes another look at Palo Alto's open data platform, and how their new budget platform is changing the context of engagement in budget decisions. 

August 28, 2012: Pete Peterson wrote "Greetings from Portland . . . Wishin' We Were Here" published in Fox & Hounds in which he describes his experiences observing the Oregon Citizen's Initiative Review process.

August 6, 2012: Ashley Trim wrote "Big Society: Can the Britons 'Build That?'" published at Front Porch Republic on how residents of the UK are responding to cuts in government services by filling the gaps and why some politicians and pundits are less than enthusiastic. 

August 3, 2012: Pete Peterson authored "California State Parks and 'Unbuilding' the Golden State" on the Hoover Institution's "Eureka Forum" blog regarding cutting back state and local government services and the response of philanthropy and civil socity to maintaining service levels.

August 3, 2012: Pete Peterson wrote "Palo Alto's Open Data Platform: What Transparency Looks Like?" published in Fox & Hounds where he discusses what the new platform means for the changing relationship between citizens and their governing institutions. 

July 12, 2012: Pete Peterson authored "SoS: A Chance at Reform?" published in Fox & Hounds.  Peterson highlights the recent ballot numbering crisis and how the Secretary of State might lead the way to reforming the system. 

May 22, 2012: Pete Peterson wrote "How 'Public' Is the Public Sector?" published in New Geography wherein he discusses how the word "public" is often used as a synonym for "government" and why this is a problem for a vibrant understanding of civic engagement.

May 4, 2012: Pete Peterson wrote "Immersion Education for Parents," wherein he discusses how a local union is attempting to unionize minimally compensated, hard-working volunteers and classroom adjuncts who are funded by the local community and parents at a language immersion school in Culver City, California.

April 2012: Pete Peterson wrote "Public Engagement: The Vital Leadership Skill," published in the March/April issue of California Special Districts Magazine.  The article, which shares a title with the Davenport Institute's public engagement training seminar looks at the changes that are taking place in local governance when it comes to citizen involvement. 

April 14, 2012: Ashley Trim authored the op-ed "Building Community Is Everyone's Responsibility" published in the Ventura County Star.  She discusses the role of residents in answering fundamental questions about what our cities are and how they will be affected by cuts to services. 

March 7, 2012: Pete Peterson wrote "Creative Californians Redefine Rahm's 'Rule One'" published in The American.  He discusses how municipalities across the state are asking their residents to assume greater responsibilities, not only in decision making, but also in service provision.