Gov21 | The 21st Century Government Leadership Program

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Quick Details


October – November 2019




GS-14 to GS-15 federal employees


For more information, contact Madeleine Lowe at or call (202) 780-1169.

Every day, leaders in the federal government must make strategic decisions; they need to decide which problems to tackle and in what order, how to monitor progress and whether to make changes, how to engage stakeholders, and how to implement new policies. To pursue their agencies’ mission in an increasingly complex environment, they must operate more efficiently, effectively and innovatively. It is critical for 21st-century government leaders to develop new skills and deepen their understanding of how to navigate within our current federal system.

The 21st Century Government Leadership Program is designed to meet the evolving needs of federal agency leaders by providing them with new tools for effective government; empowering them to make effective, data-driven decisions; and developing new relationships with other government leaders who share a passion for making government work better. Gov21 successfully completed its first pilot cohort in late 2018, and in the spirit of innovation, we are eager to continue refining and iterating on the program with the second cohort.

As a result of the Gov21 program, participants will:

  • Learn how to lead effective meetings. Develop skills to lead productive meetings and create a culture of active participation and learning that encourages focus, energy and enthusiasm.
  • Use design thinking to strategize, solve problems and develop new initiatives. Practice framing a problem to identify the root cause and discover practices that support testing, experimentation and innovation.
  • Use science and data to streamline activities. Learn how to improve program design and operations using insights from behavioral science. Explore ways to use evidence to make decisions and inform strategy and resource allocation.
  • Take full advantage of resources to do better and act faster. Explore resources to foster innovative practices and hear from experts in procurement, hiring, prizes and more to learn about modern methods for getting things done.

You show up every day and help carry out the mission of your agency. You work behind the scenes and you do not seek attention. You are a public servant, working for the American people. You get things done, but you know that there is progress to be made. You’ve seen the same problems present themselves over and over. You feel government still lives in the 20th Century. Last Century.

You know there are new and better ways to do the work of government. Ways that emphasize agility and impact. Ways that utilize the unique skill sets and perspectives of career federal employees. Ways to make government operate in a way that is… modern. Like this Century. The 21st Century. This is for you.

How to Apply

We have high standards for our participants. We will evaluate applications based on numerous criteria to ensure that individuals selected for the program have an interest in improving office culture for their staff and their stakeholders, growing professionally, discovering new methods and tools to operate more effectively and efficiently, and meeting fellow trail blazers. There are a limited number of spaces, and applicants should be either a GS-14 or GS-15 (although high-performing GS-12s and GS-13s may also apply).

Applications must include personal information, responses to short-answer questions and permission from your supervisor to participate in the program. Carefully consider short-answer responses to ensure your government career objectives align with the high expectations of Gov21 fellows. We will carefully curate the cohort, looking for participants who are willing to show up, commit to learning and want to use their federal job for good.

This cohort is funded by the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation with a $275 contribution required from each participant to cover the cost of materials. More importantly, participants’ contribution consists of commitment, attending all sessions, active participation and willingness to help continue shaping future classes by actively engaging and providing feedback and advice.

You do not need to complete the application in one session.

Program Structure

Led by facilitator Virginia Hamilton, the Gov21 program consists of three two-day sessions held at the Partnership for Public Service in Washington, D.C. During these sessions, participants will engage with experts and each other to gain exposure to modern ways of solving government problems and begin to address a self-selected problem. Participants will learn government management practices, tools and skills as well as hear from experts in the federal government and receive feedback on a specific problem or project. By the end of the program, participants will have gained a deeper understanding of problem identification, acquired useful tools and methods, and tested potential solutions to address their problem.

Past Speakers Include:

Virginia Hamilton, Senior Advisor for Design Thinking and Innovation, American Institutes for Research; Former Innovation Council Chair, DOL (Program Facilitator)

Dan Correa, Strategic Advisor for Government Innovation, Partnership for Public Service; Fellow and Director, Freeman Spogli Institute, Stanford University; Former Assistant Director for Innovation Policy, White House Office of Science and Technology Policy

Josh Marcuse, Executive Director, Defense Innovation Board; Founder and President, Federal Innovators Network

Samia Amin, Director, Workforce Development, American Institutes for Research

Jenn Gustetic, Program Executive, Small Business Innovation Research, NASA

Holly O’Driscoll, Founder and CEO at Ampersand Innovation, LLC; Former Global Design Thinking Leader & Innovation Strategist, Procter & Gamble

Peter Neffenger, Former Administrator, TSA

Sydney Heimbrock, Former Executive Director, Innovation Lab at OPM


October 17
9:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.

October 18
9:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m.


November 6
9:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.

November 7
9:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m.


November 21
9:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.

November 22
9:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m.

Instructor and Staff

Virginia Hamilton

In early 2019, Virginia Hamilton joined the Partnership as a strategic advisor based in California to improve cross-sector collaboration among federal, state, local governments and the nonprofit and business sectors in disaster preparedness. She also works at the American Institutes for Research, where she is using design thinking to improve public policy and program design.

Virginia previously served as the regional administrator for the Department of Labor based in the Bay Area, where she oversaw workforce and unemployment insurance programs across eight states and four territories. She also supported the secretary’s office on issues of employee engagement and innovation, and spearheaded the Customer Centered Design Initiative, which trained more than 2,000 workforce development professionals in human-centered design.  

Over the years, she has worked with leadership in organizations to teach them how to collaborate, build partnerships, have important conversations, send the right messages and get things done. She has been focused on practicing and teaching process skills and design thinking for the last 15 years. Virginia has spent her career in nonprofits and as a public servant with the mission of making government work better for vulnerable populations.


Members of the Partnership staff will work with you throughout the Gov21 Program to ensure that your experience goes smoothly.