California Civic Leadership Institute

The California Civic Leadership Institute (CCLI) is a Cal Cities program designed to give legislative candidates a broad, in-depth understanding of critical issues affecting the state, provide them with invaluable tools needed to succeed when they are elected to the legislature, and create a forum where lasting bonds can be shared among California’s rising political leaders.

The CCLI was created in 2005 in response to the California energy crisis and loss of institutional knowledge due to term limits in the legislature. With term limits in mind, it was clear that there was tremendous need to educate prospective legislators about high-level statewide issues prior to them taking state office.

Program Framework

Since 2005, Cal Cities has worked to fill the educational void through the CCLI, a two-part program. In the past the CCLI has been exclusively focused on preparing city officials running for legislative seats, however starting in 2022, the CCLI has adjusted its programming to be more inclusive and will provide training for all local governments leaders, including those serving counties, special districts, school boards, or tribal governments.

Bringing Together the Brightest Minds in Politics. Cal Cities hosts a two-day educational bootcamp which takes place in late-summer or early-fall in Sacramento. This portion of the program aims to introduce candidates to timely statewide policy issues; share late breaking campaign information such as demographics and polling; and provide content from political experts on how to best navigate the Capitol community. Social events accompany the educational sessions to facilitate networking among candidates and program sponsors.

In-Depth Policy Discussions. In the fall, candidates participate in a “policy field trip” at a location that demonstrates a trending policy issue or that is experiencing a current event of statewide importance. This component of the program provides candidates with an in-depth, practical learning opportunity that cannot be fully conveyed in a classroom setting. Participants find this portion of the program to be extraordinarily rewarding.

Regional Candidate Experiences. Cal Cities’ Regional Public Affairs Managers host Candidate Forums or “Meet the Candidate” opportunities throughout the state, bringing together city officials and legislative candidates.

Candidate Questionnaires. Through the CCLI program, Cal Cities invites legislative candidates to complete a candidate questionnaire so city leaders can better understand a candidate’s perspective on priority issues facing cities. Responses to the survey are shared with members, sponsors and will be posted below.

For more information on CCLI, please contact Regional Public Affairs Manager Sara Sanders.

CCLI Alumni Network

Graduates of the California Civic Leadership Institute become a part of an exclusive alumni network and are recognized at Cal Cities events. CCLI is proud to claim 23 current members of the California Legislature, several California Constitutional Officers and U.S. Senator Alex Padilla, as graduates.

Alumni List
  • AD 02     Jim Wood – D, Santa Rosa
  • AD 04     Cecilia Aguiar-Curry – D, Winters
  • AD 06     Kevin McCarty – D, Sacramento
  • AD 12     Damon Connolly – D, San Rafael 
  • AD 15     Tim Grayson – D, Concord
  • AD 23     Marc Berman – D, Menlo Park
  • AD 26     Evan Low – D, Campbell
  • AD 30     Dawn Addis – D, Morro Bay
  • AD 36     Eduardo Garcia – D, Coachella 
  • AD 41     Chris Holden – D, Pasadena 
  • AD 48     Blanca Rubio – D, Baldwin Park
  • AD 64     Blanca Pacheco – D, Downey 
  • AD 65     Mike Gipson – D, Carson 
  • AD 74     Laurie Davies – R, Laguna Niguel
  • AD 77     Tasha Boerner Horvath – D, Encinitas
  • SD 04      Marie Alvarado-Gil – D, Jackson 
  • SD 14      Anna Caballero – D, Merced 
  • SD 17      John Laird – D, Santa Cruz 
  • SD 19      Monique Limón – D, Santa Barbara
  • SD 23      Rosilicie Ochoa Bogh – R, Yucaipa 
  • SD 25      Anthony Portantino – D, La Cañada Flintridge 
  • SD 28      Lola Smallwood-Cuevas – D, Los Angeles
  • SD 32      Kelly Seyarto – R, Murrieta
  • California Attorney General, Rob Bonta
  • California State Treasurer, Fiona Ma
  • California State Superintendent of Public Education, Tony Thurmond
  • CD 15      Kevin Mullin, U.S. House of Representatives
  • CD 33      Pete Aguilar, U.S. House of Representatives
  • U.S. Senator, Alex Padilla
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