Bowhay Institute for Legislative Leadership Development

The BOWHAY INSTITUTE for LEGISLATIVE LEADERSHIP DEVELOPMENT (BILLD) is the only leadership training program designed exclusively for Midwestern legislators. BILLD helps newer legislators develop the skills necessary to become effective leaders, informed decision-makers, and astute policy analysts. The program offers a unique opportunity for lawmakers to improve their leadership skills and explore the issues of the day with nationally renowned scholars, professional development experts, and legislative leaders and colleagues from across the region.

“ You will leave better informed and better prepared to make a true impact on your chamber, your legislative body, and your community. ”
— Illinois Sen. Elgie Sims Jr.
Class of 2014
Legislators take part in a BILLD session.

About the BILLD Progarm

The BILLD program is conducted by CSG’s Midwestern Office in cooperation with The Center for the Study of Politics and Governance at the University of Minnesota’s Humphrey School of Public Affairs. The program takes place on the university campus at the Humphrey School. Fellowships are awarded on a competitive, nonpartisan basis by a Steering Committee of legislators from the region.

Each year, lawmakers from the Midwestern Legislative Conference’s 11 member states (Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Michigan, Minnesota, Nebraska, North Dakota, Ohio, South Dakota and Wisconsin) and the Canadian provinces of Alberta, Manitoba, Ontario and Saskatchewan gather in Minneapolis, Minnesota, for a unique five-day educational experience.

In addition to its focus on leadership training, such as conflict resolution and negotiation, BILLD includes policy sessions on issues such as education, corrections, health care and economic development, as well as seminars on media relations, priority management and consensus building.

The program is highly interactive and offers a unique opportunity for legislators to share ideas and learn from one another.  In addition to seminars focusing on the development of core leadership skills, the annual program includes policymaking workshops on some of the most pressing issues facing state legislators, such as state economies, health care, and trade relations.

BILLD fellows also participate in a series of professional development sessions in areas such as time and priority management, communicating with the media and speech making, and consensus building and negotiation.

Click here to view a sample program agenda.

The 2021 BILLD program is scheduled for July 30 – August 3, in Minneapolis, Minnesota. The application is now available.

BILLD Application

2021 BILLD Program: July 30 - August 3 Minneapolis, Minnesota
“ It’s a must-do program for any new legislator wanting a better understanding of how to navigate complex systems and become a better legislator. ”
— Indiana Sen. Erin Houchin
BILLD Class of 2018

Who should apply for a BILLD Fellowship?

The Bowhay Institute is designed for Midwestern legislators in their first four years of legislative service. Legislators from Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Michigan, Minnesota, Nebraska, North Dakota, Ohio, South Dakota and Wisconsin are eligible to apply.

What costs does a BILLD Fellowship cover?

Each fellowship covers the cost of tuition, lodging and meals related to attending the five-day institute. Each fellow also is eligible to receive a nominal travel stipend, which helps cover a portion of the cost of traveling to Minneapolis.

Why should you apply for a BILLD Fellowship?

The BILLD program will help you become part of the next generation of legislative leaders.

BILLD will help you develop leadership skills. Through a series of workshops, the BILLD program will provide training to sharpen and develop the skills you need to become an effective legislative leader. Leaders from across the region will share their advice and experiences to help you develop into a leader for the 21st century.

BILLD will help you better understand key public policies. By focusing on the most important issues facing states today, scholars from the University of Minnesota and outside experts will help you analyze policies and programs, evaluate the information that you receive, and communicate effectively with constituents and colleagues.

BILLD will give you the opportunity to network with the best and brightest emerging leaders in the Midwest. As a BILLD fellow, you will be working with some of the most promising new legislators from across the region. Throughout the five-day program, you will be sharing your knowledge with fellow legislators and learning from their experiences.

BILLD Steering Committee Leadership

The BILLD Steering Committee oversees the Bowhay Institute for Legislative Leadership Development, which provides training to new legislators from the 11 member states and affiliate members of the Midwestern Legislative Conference.

In addition to setting application and selection guidelines, the Steering Committee awards the annual BILLD Fellowships, provides guidance on fundraising initiatives and oversees development of the BILLD curriculum.


Illinois Sen. Elgie Sims speaks at a BILLD reception.

BILLD Alumni


Since the inaugural class in 1995, 876 Midwestern legislators have graduated from the BILLD program.

View BILLD classes here, or search the BILLD database.

Sponsorship of BILLD

BILLD is supported through the generous contributions of foundations and corporations. Sponsorships are now being accepted for the 2021 Bowhay Institute.


2021 BILLD Fundraising Prospectus

2021 Sponsorship Level Reply

If you are interested in becoming a partner with CSG Midwest to help provide leadership training to new state legislators in the region, please contact Laura A. Tomaka (630.925.1922).

The Council of State Governments is a 501(c)(3) organization, and all contributions are tax deductible as permitted by law.

Graphic of 2021 BILLD Sponsors

current as of 01/21/2021

BILLD Alumni News

CSG Midwest’s newsletter, Stateline Midwest, includes a page dedicated to the Bowhay Institute for Legislative Leadership Development. Readers will find several features on this page:

  • A feature article on a professional development or policy topic
  • Brief profiles and activity updates on BILLD Alumni
  • Updates on the BILLD program and BILLD events

Please contact Laura Tomaka, BILLD Program Manager, with story ideas for the BILLD News page.