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San Diego Public Leadership Institute to become a program of the San Diego Regional Chamber of Commerce in 2017 announces Ernesto M. Arredondo, Jr., San Diego Regional Chamber of Commerce Board Chair and Wells Fargo San Diego Region President.  LEARN MORE.

Jacksonville City Council Finance Chair Anna Lopez Brosche, a Jacksonville program graduate and accountant elected in 2015, has been named "one of the top 10 people to watch" in Jacksonville politics.  LEARN MORE

Florida State Rep. Ben Albritton, a citrus company owner from Wauchula, said the program gave him the confidence to organize his campaign, prepare his business and family for the election process and develop important networking contacts.   Albritton was first elected in 2010 and serves as Agriculture and Natural Resources Appropriations Subcommittee Chair in the 2017 legislative session.  During his legislative tenure, Ben has received numerous accolades from business, agriculture and civic organizations for fiscal responsibility and government accountability. He is a former Florida Citrus Commission Chairman. 

"(They) aren't just waiting for (the) next generation of political leaders to appear — they're actively recruiting and training them." 

Florida Trend, Business Newsmaker of the Year, 2011

The San Diego Public Leadership institute graduated 28 select business leaders from its 2016 program, bringing the total of participants to 103 over four years. 

Despite the often-nasty nature of politics, it has been gratifying to witness business leaders enter our program curious - and even apprehensive - about the political process and then emerge educated and energized about the possibility of becoming public leaders of impact. 

The model has trained over 400 competitively-selected business leaders from diverse local markets in Florida, as well as San Diego and Northern Virginia.  Graduates have become outstanding state legislators, mayors, council members, commissioners, school board members and government appointees.​​


"The (San Diego Public Leadership Institute) is a fantastic program. I appreciated hearing first hand from people who were involved in politics and policy and learning what it’s like to go through a campaign and be prepared for a leadership position.   The class teaches you the skills to make a contribution.”
Chris CateSan Diego City Councilmember elected in 2014, was a member of the 2013 San Diego Public Leadership Institute.

In December 2016, Cate was named San Diego's fifth most powerful person by Our City San Diego magazine.  Learn more about the San Diego story.

"My attention to finances derives from a business background of understanding financing and evaluating the efficacy of a transaction. Translating that to City budgets, I can ascertain when something doesn’t seem to make financial sense and ask the questions necessary to reveal underlying issues." 

Lori Boyer, Jacksonville (FL) City Council President, was a real estate executive and Jacksonville (FL) 2010 program member, elected in 2011 and re-elected in 2015. As Council president,she succeeded another program graduate. Eleven graduates have been elected to office,including two mayors, five council members, two sheriffs, a municipal trustee and state legislator. 

400+ business leaders trained in Florida, San Diego, Virginia

​We're proud of our graduates who have used their

business skills to make a difference as public leaders

  Here are a few...

​​​​​​​“We could not have done this without you. We could have given (this idea)

a lot of lip service, but to actually pull it off would have been practically

unthinkable."  San Diego business leader...103 business-minded leaders have been

trained for public leadership.  Learn how San Diego business leaders saw our model as a way to expand their voice in public affairs

Florida Rep. Jackie Toledo, a Tampa Bay program graduate, civil engineer and businesswoman who won her seat in November, serves on several House committees, including the Commerce Committee.  LEARN MORE.  

Edwin Narain,a 2012 Tampa Bay program graduate, and AT&T Florida executive, was elected to the Florida House in 2014. As a freshman Democrat legislator of a Republican-controlled House, Rep. Narain received the "Distinguished Advocate Award" from the Florida Chamber of Commerce in 2015 for advancing legislation to extend R&D tax credits.  The award was unheard of for a first-year member of a minority party.  Rep. Narain ran unsuccessfully for the Florida Senate in 2016.  Other Tampa Bay graduates have been elected to the Florida House, local government on city and county commissions and school board.

Our programs or academies work with local, state or industry leaders to "build the bench" of pro-business aspiring public leaders by demystifying the process and preparing program members before they declare or seek an appointment to take advantage of their political opportunities. We provide: 

  • a proven and successful recruitment and competitive selection process to identify committed business-minded participants; ​
  • an extensive goal-oriented and tailored training program with an expert-led curriculum that challenges participants to consider why they want to run or serve, while also covering the basics of transition strategies, candidacy, appointments and public service. Engaging simulation scenarios in small-groups allow participants to learn in teams and integrate lessons;
  • and opportunities to build meaningful contacts and networks. ​

Institutes or "pre-campaign" academies can run from a few days to a few months, depending on the objectives of local organizers. As examples, the San Diego Public Leadership Institute meets from April through October.  In Lakeland, Florida, institutes have been conducted over four Fridays.  

There are two options for launching an institute or short-term academy:

A.  house the program within an established organization.   Our services range from staff training and consulting to administering and facilitating the complete turn-key program or

B.  establish an independent program through our 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that allows companies, organizations and leaders to affiliate with the effort.  We provide complete administrative and educational services. As a 501(c)(3) entity, foundations can provide support. 

Regardless of how it is housed, the local institute will be branded with its own name and controlled by local leaders and program sponsors who have the final say on class size, class qualifications and selection, curriculum and budget. 

Political Leadership Innovation Institute, Inc.

Preparing outstanding business leaders to become outstanding public leaders

"I knew a little about the political process but loved getting first-hand exposure from experts and making connections that I still maintain.   Most people have two reactions to the program:  `there's no way I'm ever going to do this' or, if you're like me, `Game On, I really want to do this.`  The program gave me confidence." 

Colleen Burton, Florida State Representativeof Lakeland (FL) is Vice-Chair of the House Ways and Means Committee for 2017.

"I always believed I had something positive to offer in a public-servant role,  but dreaded the process.  Now, I'm inspired.  Thank you."

Lori Boyera Jacksonville, Florida real estate executive who provided that comment as a program member in 2010. She is now City Council President, succeeding another program graduate.  Scroll down this page to see how Lori uses her business skills in public office. Eleven Jacksonville graduates have been elected to office, including mayors, city council members, city council presidents, sheriffs and a legislator. 

Local training institutes have groomed outstanding business leaders to become outstanding political leaders as mayors, city council members, 
commissioners, state legislators, appointees...


We're a nonprofit, nonpartisan and pro-business political leadership development organization that works with local, state and industry leaders to prepare business leaders who believe they could make a difference in elected or appointed office but need to know how to start and what to expect.

Our success is not judged by the number of programs we've launched but by the impact our graduates-turned public leaders have made in the communities and states they serve. 

Through a proprietary curriculum that features an active-learning format with simulation exercises, our "pre-campaign" institutes or seminars cover candidacy and appointments, transition strategies from private to public life and how business lessons could address public issues.  

“As a small business owner, I developed sound financial management principles that now provide the cornerstone of my service as an elected official.  PLI made a tremendous difference in my transition.”
Bill Sandke, City of Coronado (CA) Councilmember, is a small-business owner who was elected in 2014 after completing the the San Diego Public Leadership Institute program. In this photo, Councilmember Sandke participated in PLI-sponsored seminar on cross-border cooperation in the San Diego - Tijuana region.  Another PLI graduate, Whitney Benzian, was elected to the Coronado Council in November 2016.

Darryl Daniels, a 2013 Jacksonville program member, was sworn into office in January as the first African-American Sheriff of Clay County Florida.  He won his seat in 2016.

Jacksonville Beach Mayor Charlie Latham, a Jacksonville program graduate and business owner, was re-elected in November with priorities to complete the Downtown Vision Plan and make the city debt-free.  LEARN MORE.

Donald O'Brien, a graduate of the Flagler (FL) Public Leadership Institute and insurance executive, said his priorities as a newly-elected Flagler County Commissioner include accountability and supporting jobs creators.  LEARN MORE.


Whitney Benzian, Executive Director, California Apartment Association-San Diego, a San Diego program graduate, won a seat on the Coronado (CA) City Council, joining fellow alum Bill Sandke.  

Read about our success stories and history below or


Photo: San Diego Public Leadership Institute 2016 class

Alvin Brown  served as Jacksonville (FL) Mayor from 2011 - 2015 and was the first African-American in the city's history to be elected to the office.  He was a 2009 Jacksonville program graduate.  Mayor Brown worked across party lines to support a business-friendly climate, revitalize downtown and improve the Port.  Prior to running for office he was Executive in Residence at Jacksonville University’s Davis School of Business, Executive Director of the Bush/Clinton Katrina Interfaith Fund and Chairman of the Board of the National Black MBA Association. In 2016, he was a visiting fellow at Georgetown University’s Institute of Politics and Public Service.