A three-day Board Meeting and Leadership Forum in sunny Palm Beach, Florida. Now that is how you wrap up a year that can only be described as “a home run!”

2017 was the busiest and most ambitious year in the 45-year history of the State Legislative Leaders Foundation! Over the last twelve months, we coordinated eight conferences in the US and two conferences abroad. At home, we hosted meetings from the east coast (New York) to the west coast (California) and locations in between (Washington DC, Colorado, Virginia and Ohio). We also hosted the very first meeting in our new historic offices on Cape Cod, Massachusetts.  Well over one hundred legislators, representing all of the fifty states, attended at least one of those meetings, where they explored such timely and critical topics as the opioid crisis, ethics, leadership, marijuana legalization, civility, technology, generational differences, security and poverty in rural America. What a year it was!

In addition to the stellar academic programs that always dot our calendar, a significant highlight of the year was the opening of our new home, SLLF at Fernbrook, in a beautiful 1880’s Victorian home.  In August, in collaboration with the National Federation of Women Legislators (NFWL) and the National Institute for Civil Discourse (NCID), we christened our new headquarters by hosting “Leading with Civility.” This program brought together a Republican and a Democratic leader from twelve different states to develop strategies for increasing civility and improving policies in their states.

This program garnered for SLLF, NICD and NFWL the first ever national Civvy Award! The Civvy (American Civic Collaboration Award), launched this year by Bridge Alliance and BIgTent Nation, will be given annually to highlight best practices in collective action that put community and nation before party, ideology and narrow interests.

While 2017 was great, we believe 2018 is going to be even better! In March, we will be working with UNC Public Policy in Chapel Hill, NC to present “Bridging the Gap: Leading and Learning From a New Generation.” This program will explore how new generations of voters and legislators are influencing politics and government and how legislative leaders can harness their ideas, passion and energy to make better policy.

This program will be followed in June by the sixth annual meeting of the Conference of State Majority Leaders (CSML) to be held in Chicago and hosted by Illinois Senate Majority Leader James Clayborne. As always this program will explore the unique qualities and challenges facing Majority Leaders who are often pulled between partisan and institutional obligations, district and state demands, and priorities of the legislature and the governor.

In July, we will return to the University of Virginia for our Emerging Leaders Program (ELP), where more than fifty “rising stars” will explore and develop their own leadership styles under the watchful eyes of a first class faculty from UVA’s Darden School.

In late August, it is off to the land of the Brewers, the Packers and cheeseheads for the 27th annual meeting of the National Speakers Conference, hosted by Wisconsin Speaker Robin Vos, President of the National Speakers Conference.

A month later, we will head to Johns Hopkins University to continue to explore strategies for addressing the opioid crisis that is crippling our country. We will examine some of the creative and effective strategies that various state and local governments are adopting to respond to this devastating crisis.

Finally, we will wrap up the year with our Board Meeting and Leadership Roundtable in Las Vegas!

One last note – while details are not finalized yet, we are tentatively planning a meeting in Europe in 2018 and might even try to sneak in an additional meeting or two at Fernbrook, so keep your ears to the ground and your eyes on your email!

As we like to say, buckle up and hold on because 2018, here we come!