In my experience, I have come to acknowledge an important and founding principle of life: the opportunity to learn never goes away. We all know the saying, “You learn something new every day,” and that is true for people of all ages and all walks of life. This fact is even truer as one experiences great changes or takes on new roles. For local and state public officials, they undertake a responsibility for which there isn’t a training manual, a duty that often depends greatly on personal experiences.
In an era of term limits—where our most experienced legislators, statewide officials, and local office holders have limits on how many times they may hold a particular office—there is inevitably a loss of institutional knowledge. When I first entered the Ohio House seven years ago, I was new to state government, but I was surrounded by mentors and long-serving legislators who were able to impart much of the foundational knowledge that is needed to represent Ohioans to the best of our ability. Now that I am nearing my own term limit, many of these experienced leaders have moved on, and it is important to help prepare those stepping into their shoes.
That’s why I was proud to join the Ohio State University this week to unveil details of the State of Ohio Leadership Institute (SOLI), a new program which received funding for its launch in the recently passed state operating budget. SOLI will be a resource for elected officials, providing instruction and training on public affairs, public administration, the state budget process, communication with members and staff, decorum and ethics, and much more. This program will educate newly-serving and experienced officials alike, creating institutional continuity across elected and appointed offices.
When I first became the state representative of the 91st House District, I know that I would have personally benefitted from the SOLI program. From learning how to best represent my constituents to running my office efficiently, there was a lot to take in. I was lucky—I had great mentors in Speakers Jo Ann Davidson and Bill Batchelder, State Representatives Jim Buchy and Ron Amstutz, and more who each had decades of experience working in and around state government in Ohio. I looked to them for advice and learned much. SOLI will help to impart the same skills and wisdom I learned from them to current and future leaders around Ohio.
Facilitated by the John Glenn College of Public Affairs at the Ohio State University, the State of Ohio Leadership Institute will also give students access to their elected officials, a relationship that is crucial to develop and foster. SOLI continues Senator Glenn’s mission to train and inspire our elected leaders, helping them shape the best possible public policy. The program will be a boon to our communities, and I look forward to seeing colleagues learn more about how to best serve Ohioans.
Cliff Rosenberger is the Ohio House Speaker.