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Congressional Programs


The Campaign for Courage is playing an active role in rebuilding Congress by developing a new entity called the Congressional Center for Leadership to work directly with Congressional members and staff. 

The Congressional Center for Leadership will serve as a “center of excellence” for members of Congress, Congressional staff, and the organizations that support them. Our guiding principle is that the U.S. Congress, both as an institution and an assemblage of individuals, should embody “American exceptionalism” in the best sense of that term. 

The Center takes a uniquely “human-centered” approach, recognizing that the members of Congress and the staff that support them are human beings, with all the greatness, fragility, inconsistencies, and passion that embody the human condition. Most politicians and staff go into public service because they truly care about solving problems and making peoples’ lives better. They are subject to immense pressures and forces that work against the best of human nature. The Center intends to support them in remaining steadfast to what Abraham Lincoln called the “better angels of our nature.”

We are leading or assisting with a number of efforts in Congress. These include the following:


Congressional Veterans Initiative - Character-Building for Leadership: Military veteran members of Congress and staff embody values of integrity, honor, and self-sacrifice that are essential for Congressional excellence. This initiative will create ways for veterans and non-veterans in Congress to engage with each other to strengthen the character of Congress, ranging from discussions on Capitol Hill to team-building and character-strengthening retreats at military bases.

Senate Former Governors Caucus: We have helped spark the re-launch of this caucus that is based on the premise that former governors now serving as U.S. senators bring unique experience in achieving results and working across the aisle. With six Democrats, six Republicans, and one Independent, the current lineup of former governors in the Senate provides an ideal platform for bipartisan problem-solving.


House Select Committee on the Modernization of Congress: This bipartisan committee in the House of Representatives has been charged with developing recommendations to improve the functioning of Congress. We are working to bring new innovative voices to the table outside of the usual think tanks, academic institutions and reform groups. We are also helping develop methods to engage Congressional staff to provide input to the committee.

Reimagining Freshman/Sophomore Orientation: We are developing an initiative to take a fresh look at the orientation process for new members of Congress and those returning for their second term. The start of a new Congress is an ideal time to bring new approaches to the ways that Congress does its work. We aim to bring ideas of innovation, character-strengthening, and collaborative leadership to the orientation process.



The Congressional Hub for Innovation, Reform and Performance (CHIRP): Congressional staff play a critical role in the functioning of Congress, particularly in crafting legislation. What’s more, more than one out of every seven members of Congress began as a staffer. CHIRP will foster creativity, innovation, and leadership among Congressional staff and provide ways to collaborate and share innovations across offices and across the two chambers of Congress. CHIRP will serve as a clearinghouse, a catalyst, and a connector among Congressional offices and the array of organizations that work with Congress. And CHIRP will develop programs for staff professional development, innovation, and leadership development, areas that can always use more support.


Congressional Staff Associations: Congressional Staff Associations are an under-utilized resource that can work in concert with CHIRP. We will help existing staff associations strengthen their activities and we are working to create at least three new associations:

  • Congressional Staff Innovation Association: This association will create stronger networks among staffers to catalyze innovative new approaches to policymaking, constituent engagement, communications, and constituent service, and foster innovative leaders within the staff community.


  • Congressional Staff Veterans Association: This association will provide support to military veteran staffers and assist with the activities of the Congressional Veterans Initiative described above.


  • Congressional Staff Faith Leaders Association: This association will bring together staffers who are leaders within their faith communities to explore ways that diverse faith leadership can play a role in strengthening the character and effectiveness of Congress.


Congressional Training and Development Working Group: We are working to create greater connectivity among the major organizations that provide training and development to Congressional staff, in order to raise their efforts to a higher level. These organizations include:


1. House Congressional Staff Academy

2. Senate Office of Training and Development

3. Congressional Management Foundation

4. Partnership for Public Service

5. Congressional Research Service

6. Georgetown University Government Affairs Institute

7. Congressional Institute

8. Project on Government Oversight

9. Aspen Institute

10. Bipartisan Policy Center

11. Pew Charitable Trusts

12. House Chiefs of Staff Association

13. U.S. Association of Former Members of Congress

14. Library of Congress, Kluge Center

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