New Governors Gather For ‘Boot Camp’ In Colorado Springs

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Governors-elect from across the country are gathering in Colorado Springs this weekend for The Seminar for New Governors. The weekend-long conference, taking place at the five-star Broadmoor Hotel, is designed to help them prepare for their new jobs.

The National Governors Association puts on the seminar every two years and invites newly elected leaders to learn from current and former governors.

“This is an attempt to give them a little bit more kind of practical exposure to some of the challenges and opportunities that past governors have dealt with as they’ve taken office,” said James Nash, a spokesman for the National Governors Association.

This year, 16 governors-elect are expected to attend, including Colorado’s Jared Polis, Mark Gordon of Wyoming, and Brad Little of Idaho.

Nine sitting governors -- or “faculty,” as the National Governors Association calls them -- are also expected to speak and lead workshops on topics ranging from assembling a transition team to best practices for working with state legislatures. Among them is outgoing Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper.

“We think of it as the new governors boot camp” said Hickenlooper, who attended the seminar himself following his election in the fall of 2010. He described the conference as a “mind meld” for past, current, and future governors, and said it gave him an appreciation for the ways leaders can help each other succeed.

“Throughout my entire two terms as governor, many of my best ideas have come from other governors. When things were going tough, I was able to reach out to other governors,” he said.

At this weekend’s seminar, Hickenlooper will lead sessions on communication strategies and  “governing with conviction.” As for his biggest pieces of advice, he said it’s important that new governors learn to hire the best people, and that they’re prepared for emergencies and understand of the capabilities of the National Guard from day one.

The Seminar for New Governors begins today and runs through Sunday, Nov. 18.