CNY Political Leadership Institute

Are you considering running for office or volunteering for a campaign but don’t know where to start? Or do you simply want to know more about the political process?

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

The program is a nuts-and-bolts training on the mechanics of running for office. How do you 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 supporters to vote? These questions and many more are covered in the program.

This nonpartisan training program involves speakers and representatives from ALL parties. It 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.

Program Details:

  • 8 evening sessions starting in February
  • All are 6:00-8:00 and are typically on 8 consecutive Tuesdays
  • Registration is $200 and is first come, first served (limited to 30 people).
  • Dinner at each session is included
  • Limited partial scholarships are available – email LGS Executive Director Michele Diecuch at

There is one rule for all our participants and speakers: politics and issues are not discussed!

From a past participant:

“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 CNYPLI 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 CNYPLI is in its 15th year, and more than 300 Central New Yorkers have participated. Graduates from the program run for office every year – they 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



Program Sponsors:

2024 Schedule

All sessions are held from 6-8 p.m. (dinner 5:30)

Sessions are held at the Onondaga County Board of Elections or Progressive Expert Consulting

February 6 – Program Overview

February 13 – Getting on the Ballot

February 20 – Being on a Team/Building a Team

February 27 – Fundraising and Campaign Finance

March 5 – Crafting and Communicating Core Messages

March 12 – Connecting with Your Voters

March 19 – Get Out the Vote

(March 26 – hold for snow date)

April 2 – Graduation & Celebration