Presence Under Pressure
An Executive Course

Preparing executive leaders to succeed

Program structure Apply

Quick Details


September 18–21



Group Size



SES members and highly qualified GS-15s

Details PDF


Dan Hyman
(202) 775-6967

Agencies’ executive leaders have immense responsibilities. Our Presence Under Pressure: An Executive Course offers intensive, high-impact sessions to help senior-level federal executives lead their agencies through complexity and change.

During the 3.5-day program, participants will visit Capitol Hill to meet with members of Congress and their staffs to discuss how they can collaborate effectively. Participants will also receive personalized media relations training, strengthening critical skills needed to advance agency priorities and adeptly respond during times of crisis.

In very little time, this course equips members of the Senior Executive Service to become more effective leaders who can navigate complex challenges.

During the media training session, participants had the chance to practice their interview skills on camera and receive immediate feedback from experienced veterans. See how they learned to take ownership and stay on message.

Program Structure

The 3.5-day program enables participants to network and discuss common challenges with their peers from across government. Each day of the program focuses on developing specific executive-level capabilities that will help participants manage evolving leadership challenges.

We restrict the size of each group to 20 people to ensure each participant can receive individual attention.

Day 1
Succeeding with Execution (afternoon session)

Goal: To empower executives as strategic leaders equipped to effectively deliver results and advance agency priorities


  • Participant networking
  • Overview on working with political appointees

This session will help participants collaborate more effectively with their agencies’ senior leadership and political appointees. Executives will explore best practices to track and measure their team’s impact while discussing key ethical practices needed to deliver results.

Day 2
Working Effectively with Congress

Goal: To provide executives with insight into Congress’ operations and how lawmakers influence agency operations


  • Half-day visit to Capitol Hill to meet with members of Congress and discuss key topics
  • Panel discussion on effective ways to work with Congress
  • Capitol Hill debrief

The best way to understand the motivations of members of Congress is to work with them. This session facilitates direct interaction between executives and lawmakers to foster greater collaboration between federal agencies and Capitol Hill. This will enable participants to align their agendas with Congress and other key decision makers and evaluators of their agencies’ operations and performance.

Day 3
Preparing for the spotlight: Media training

Goal: To strengthen executives’ communication skills


  • Full-day media relations training, focusing on interacting with, presenting to and leveraging the media
    • Among other sessions, participants will practice speaking on camera, watch a recording of themselves and receive feedback to help them improve

Executives must be able to communicate clearly on complex and potentially contentious topics. Through external vendor Oratorio, participants will hone their communication abilities and develop strategies to increase decision-making clarity and transparency.

Get a behind-the-scenes look of the media training session:

Day 4
Receiving the Most from Your Team

Goal: To help executives better engage their employees during times of change and through ongoing challenges


  • Panel of experienced public- and private-sector executives discussing key leadership challenges, including transparency and decision making, followed by a group coaching session
  • Employee engagement best practices overview session
  • Too often, organizational vision and values only reflect the perspectives of senior leaders and neglect the viewpoint of the people they lead. Executives are responsible for listening to employee ideas and incorporating them into agency agendas and goals. This session will enable participants to hear best practices from experienced leaders who have led organizations through culture changes.

How to apply

To ensure that Presence Under Pressure: An Executive Course is a meaningful experience for all participants, we verify that all applicants are either members of the Senior Executive Service or high-performing GS-15s and are capable of adequately participating in programmatic activities.

Applications must include your personal information, professional experience and objectives, up-to-date resume and supervisor information.

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