CNY Political Leadership Institute

Are you considering running for office or serving as a campaign volunteer but just don’t know where to start? Do you simply just want to know more about how the political process works?

If you are interested in running for office (government or school board) or simply want to help a friend or family member with their campaign, consider registering for the CNY Political Leadership Institute (CNY PLI).

The program is a nuts and bolts course on the mechanics of running for office. How do you even get on the ballot? How much money do you need to raise and what is the required financial reporting? How do you handle social media for a campaign? How do you create a strategy to get your supporters to vote? These questions and so many more are covered in the program.

This nonpartisan training program involves speakers and representatives from ALL parties. The program is co-chaired by Vice Chair of the NYS Democratic Party Joe Rossi (D) and Onondaga County Legislator David Knapp (R). Program participants are connected to elected leaders and party operatives who are willing to share their personal experiences.

There are eight evening sessions held each winter. All sessions are from 6-8 p.m. and are typically on eight consecutive Tuesdays. Registration is $200 and is first come, first served and is limited to 30 people. Dinner at each session is included in the registration fee. Partial scholarships are available by calling LGS Executive Director Michele Diecuch at 315-422-5471.

We have one rule for all our participants and speakers: politics and issues are not discussed!

What one past participant said:

“The CNY Political Leadership Institute has taught me all of the behind-the-scenes knowledge of how to run for office that I had never before been exposed to. It has also exposed me to some individuals that I have expanded into my network that I never would have met otherwise. I have never said this about any one thing before, but this program has genuinely changed my life.”

The CNY Political Leadership Institute was created to address the issue that many political races across Central New York go uncontested. The result: voters hear little dialogue on critical issues facing our community. This program lowers the temperature of politics and recognizes that more – and all – voices matter. The program started in 2010 and nearly 300 Central New Yorkers have participated. About a dozen program graduates run for office every year. Graduates are City of Syracuse Common Councilors, village mayors, judges and school board members. Many more are volunteering on campaigns.

For more information contact LGS Executive Director Michele Diecuch at 315-422-5471 or

We will follow the COVID rules of our host, if any. We are not requiring proof of COVID vaccination.

Registration is CLOSED as the class is full. We will run the program in the Winter of 2024.

If you have any technical difficulties, please call Michele Diecuch at 315-422-5471.

Program Sponsors:

2023 Schedule

All sessions are held from 5:30-8 p.m.

Most sessions are held at the Onondaga County Board of Elections

February 7 – Program Overview

February 14 – Getting on the Ballot

February 21 – Being on a Team/Building a Team

February 28 – Fundraising and Campaign Finance

March 7 – Crafting and Communicating Core Messages

March 14 – Connecting with Your Voters

March 21 – Get Out the Vote

(March 28 – hold for snow date)

April 4 – Graduation