Erica Harriss


Erica Harriss


Illinois State Senator Erica Harriss awarded fellowship to attend Midwestern leadership institute

State Senator Erica Harriss will be among 39 select lawmakers chosen to participate in a training program that annually identifies and assists promising state leaders in the Midwest.

Senator Harriss will meet with fellow lawmakers from Illinois and 10 other Midwestern states and four Canadian provinces on August 18-22 in Madison, Wis., for The Council of State Governments’ 28th annual Bowhay Institute for Legislative Leadership Development (BILLD).

“I am excited to come together with several state leaders from across the country and further my skillset as policy making plays a pivotal role in my job as a state senator,” said Senator Harriss. “After recently returning from Edgar Fellows, it’s an honor to be awarded fellowship for both leadership conferences which will ultimately guide me to become a better robust leader for the constituents of the 56th District.”

Since 1995, more than 900 lawmakers have graduated from the Bowhay Institute. State legislators from Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Michigan, Minnesota, Nebraska, North Dakota, Ohio, South Dakota and Wisconsin are chosen to participate through a competitive, nonpartisan selection process.  Members of the Alberta, Manitoba, Ontario and Saskatchewan legislative assemblies are selected by their caucuses to take part in the program.

BILLD was founded in 1995 to help new legislators meet the demands of increased policy responsibility being shifted to the states and, in many states, term limits and high legislative turnover.  These two emerging forces highlight the shortage of training available for legislators — a void that BILLD aims to fill.

“The Bowhay Institute is one of the premier leadership training programs in the nation,” says Iowa Sen. Amy Sinclair, who serves as co-chair of the institute’s steering committee. “The legislatures in the region have benefited greatly from the skills their members have gained through this unique educational experience. Many of the graduates now hold key leadership positions in their state.”

A program of The Council of State Governments’ Midwestern Office, the 2023 BILLD program will include courses and seminars conducted by policy experts, Midwestern legislative leaders, and professional development trainers. In addition to curriculum designed to develop leadership skills, the program analyzes a variety of public policy issues, including the economy, trade, and energy policy.

The Bowhay Institute for Legislative Leadership Development is named in honor of the late James Bowhay, longtime director of The Council of State Governments’ Midwestern Office. The program is funded through grants from foundation and corporate sponsors and an in-kind contribution provided by The Council of State Governments’ Midwestern Office.

Founded in 1933, The Council of State Governments has national headquarters in Lexington, Ky., and regional offices in Atlanta, Chicago (Lombard, Ill.), New York City and Sacramento. The goal of the national, nonpartisan organization is to assist and advance state government by providing research assistance, professional development opportunities, interstate consulting services, and suggested state legislation.

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