About Us


MissionConference attendees chatting around a table

The best innovations in government start at the local level. The Wisconsin Progress Institute was created to provide local elected officials across Wisconsin with the skills they need to be innovative leaders for their communities and for the state. The Wisconsin Progress Institute will provide front line elected officials with policy research, basic skill training, as well as an opportunity to network and learn from other elected officials across the state.


The Wisconsin Progress Institute is a nonpartisan, 501(c)(3) created in 2015 to train local elected officials to become effective leaders on their boards in order to affect positive change for their communities.

We are building a statewide training program for local elected officials in order to teach them to be effective leaders that can make positive change in their communities. Every year, local elected officials take office with big ideas for improving their communities and serving their constituents, but don’t know where to start to turn campaign promises into good local policy.

The Wisconsin Progress Institute helps local elected officials tackle the new problems facing our communities and trains legislators how to bring innovation to their communities. We provide the training and resources to help elected officials understand how to make their ideas reality. The Wisconsin Progress Institute is also convening a summit of local elected officials to foster innovation and collaboration across the state.

As a newly created organization, the Wisconsin Progress Institute is focused on sustainable growth. Our first statewide summit will take place in 2016 after spring elections are completed.

The Challenge

Between School Boards, County Boards, City Councils, and local Executives, Wisconsin has over 13,000 local elected officials. No organization or government agency keeps track of all of our state’s board and council members. There is a void in leadership development and training for elected officials to learn how to be legislators and more so, how to be effective as legislators.
Milwaukee City Hall
There is also no single organization aimed specifically at supporting and training local elected officials, so many boards don’t understand basics like Roberts Rules of Order, quorum, and drafting legislation. This leads many new local elected officials to feel intimidated and unprepared to represent their constituents.

Current Programs

On the Job Training
We bring together local elected officials from across the state at a yearly summit, which includes trainings, speakers, and networking opportunities.

We cover the specifics of:

  • Networking with veteran elected officials to identify potential mentors and allies.
  • Establishing expectations for elected officials.
  • Celebrating and sharing success to empower others.
  • Convening elected officials to share ideas.
  • Training elected officials on the basics of being a legislator: how to write a bill, build community support for your idea, build a coalition on your board to pass the legislation, and champion your success with the public.

We also provide more advanced training for veteran legislators. We focus on budget policy and government finance. We are creating workgroups for officials looking to advance their knowledge on specific issues like transportation, economic development, conservation, school funding, etc.

Sign up to receive more information about our statewide summit.