ICMA University / Leadership Development / Gettysburg Leadership Institute

Gettysburg Leadership Institute  

This program is offered once a year for three days in the late spring or summer and is limited to a group of 30 senior local government managers, with special consideration given to ICMA Credentialed Managers and Candidates.

APPLICATION Information 


2017 program dates: June 14-16, 2017

Fee: ICMA Members: $895; Non-Members $995; Team rates are available


Each year, a small group of no more than 30 senior local government managers meet to study the leadership lessons of Gettysburg. This is a unique opportunity to join colleagues in an exploration of personal leadership, organizational effectiveness, and the lessons of history.

The leadership lessons of the battle of Gettysburg, the leadership styles of Lincoln and Eisenhower, and the aftermath or disaster recovery of the town of Gettysburg after the battle of 1863 form the core of this site specific leadership institute offered in conjunction with the Gettysburg Foundation.



What People Are saying About the Gettysburg Leadership Institute


 Mike Abel

"...I believe the Gettysburg Institute is one of the best leadership training programs I have ever attended..."

-- Instructor, University of Central Florida, Deland, Florida


 Gary Adams

"I've been to many training events, seminars, and conferences in the last 30 years; this was by far the best."

-- Former City Manager, Huber Heights, Ohio


 Brian Donovan

"The Institute was a fantastic opportunity to spend three days focused on leadership skills."

-- City Manager, East Grand Rapids, Michigan


Daniel Fitzpatrick

"A leadership education experience that takes history and makes it relevant to our own everyday work lives."

-- City Manager, Rochester, New Hampshire


In July of 1863, the turning point of the American Civil War occurred at the Battle of Gettysburg.  Here, General Robert E. Lee’s Confederate army of 75,000 men and the 97,000-strong Northern Army of General George Meade met, by chance, when a Confederate brigade sent there for supplies observed a forward column of Meade’s Calvary. Of the more than 2,000 land engagements of the Civil War, Gettysburg ranks supreme. Although these battles did not end the war, nor attain any major war aim for either North or South, it remains the great battle of the war and with it brings great leadership lessons of strategy, flexibility, communication, rigor, organizational function, and dysfunction that are applicable to effective local government today.  

Institute Schedule

Day One: preparation for the leadership lessons of Gettysburg continues as we review the institute's agenda, view Gettysburg (the film), have dinner, and begin our leadership discussion.

Day Two:  Begins at the Gettysburg Foundation Museum for a brief overview of the historical context and strategic importance of the Battle of Gettysburg.  We will talk about the command structures, strategies, and methods of communication during the battle, which contain relevant examples for today’s leaders in decision-making, team building, and planning strategies for success. With the aid of a professional interpretive guide who has a rare passion for and understanding of the Gettysburg experience, we will visit the battle lines of North and South.  As part of the tour we will leave the bus and, on the field bisected by the Emmitsburg Road south of the borough of Gettysburg, we will walk the field of the famous Pickett’s Charge. We'll study good and bad examples of leadership, the importance of communication, leading by example, recognizing and appropriately utilizing talent and skill, understanding the benefits and limitations of the tools and resources available. 


Gettysburg 2014 participants- Photo courtesy of The Gettysburg Foundation

Day Three: Begins with breakfast at the Gettysburg Museum and more discussion over of the impact of leadership during the battle. Then the group will then enter a museum classroom for a study of contemporary and historical leadership styles ending with President Abraham Lincoln’s trip to dedicate the National Cemetery with a “few appropriate remarks” that lasted only two minutes and which we know as the Gettysburg Address. In the afternoon, we will walk the hallowed ground of the National Cemetery with a special interpretive guide and participate in other learning activities. As part of a walking tour, we will study the impact of the battle on the population of 2,000, which had to provide services for the more than 51,000 casualties as a result of the battle. Over 152,455 men and 550 cannons were positioned in an area encompassing 25 square miles. Additionally, an estimated 569 tons of ammunition was expended and, when the battle had ended, 5,000 dead horses and the other wreckage of war presented a scene of terrible devastation, which will serve as a case study on disaster management.  We will wrap up with a debriefing at the Gettysburg Museum Ford Education Center.


Applications: Apply by December 9 to receive a $100 discount.

Cost: ICMA Members: $895/ Non-Members: $995. Includes all interpretive fees and materials, bus transportation, dinner on Wednesday, lunch on Thursday, and breakfast on Friday. Team rates are also available.  

Dates: June 14-16, 2017

Lodging: Gettysburg Hotel; 1 Lincoln Square; special room rates available to ICMA attendees. Do not book hotel or airfare until you have been accepted into the Institute.

Required pre-reading: The Killer Angels by Michael Shaara

Professional development guidelines: This institute can help fulfill your annual professional development requirements as outlined in the guidelines for Tenet 8 of the ICMA Code of Ethics.

Contact: If you have questions, please email Nedra James, njames@icma.org



  • Arrival 3:00 pm
  • Opening Session (3:30 pm) and Dinner—hotel


  • Leadership Lessons of the Battlefield
  • Lunch—Box Lunch on the Battlefield
  • Dinner—on your own


  • Breakfast—Gettysburg Museum
  • Abraham Lincoln: Mission Driven Leadership
  • Lunch—on your own
  • Gettysburg National Cemetery
  • Gettysburg:  The Battle and Aftermath
  • The Town Experience: Case study of disaster management


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International city/County Management Association

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