Evans School of Public Policy & Governance

The Evans School’s new graduate certificate in Building Resilient Local Governments is designed to equip local government officials with the knowledge, skills, and tools needed to build organizational resilience and respond to the increasingly complex challenges they face.

Register for an Info Session

Interested in learning more about the Building Resilient Local Governments certificate program? Register for one of our upcoming online info sessions:

Tuesday, July 23, 2024: 1 pm to 2 pm

Thursday, August 1, 2024: 8 am to 9 am

Thursday, August 8, 2024: 2 pm to 3 pm


Interested in applying? We anticipate this application will go live in August 2024. At that time, details on how to apply will be added to this space.

Building Resiliency

Local and regional governments are essential to addressing the most pressing policy problems of our time. This eight-month program prepares leaders to build resiliency and overcome challenges unique to their local contexts.

Designed for local government professionals, this program runs from January through August with flexible course schedules. Over three quarters, students will take three core courses and complete a capstone experience.

Students who successfully complete the certificate are eligible to apply for admission to our Executive MPA program, counting some completed credits towards this degree or other Evans School graduate certificates.

Why Evans?

Over the past 60 years, the Evans School has built a reputation as one of the top public policy and management schools in the nation. Our faculty members are recognized as some of the best educators and scholars of public policy and governance. They are driving change and shaping innovative policy and implementation solutions in communities worldwide.

This program is a graduate certificate, endorsed by the University’s Regents. Some credits can be applied to other master’s programs at the University of Washington.

Certificate Objectives and Curriculum

  • Build a tool kit of practices that enable local government leaders to understand differences, overcome barriers, engage diverse stakeholders, and identify and implement relevant equity-centered approaches to move towards inclusivity within their communities.
  • Deploy active, practice-based learning throughout all courses, delivered in schedules accessible to working professionals that utilize face-to-face sessions with technology-enhanced learning.


This course introduces students to concepts and frameworks from organizational leadership research and practices that provide the foundations for equity-centered leadership in the public sector. It will give students a foundation in systemic, administrative, and personal leadership models that enhance equity in access, process, and outcomes for individuals from traditionally underserved groups. In this course, students will also learn to critically examine normative organizational practices and identify how and when inequities reproduce in and through organizational systems and through leadership. This course provides students with foundational concepts about (a) different types of diversity, (b) the ethical responsibilities of public leaders to manage and serve a diverse workforce and citizenry, and (c) approaches to cultivating equitable and inclusive leadership practices. The course equips students with the skills and tools necessary to understand differences, overcome barriers, and identify and implement relevant equity-centered approaches to move towards inclusivity. 

Learning Outcomes: 

  • Assess leadership models, including traditional leadership approaches and others that enhance organizational equity performance. 
  • Recognize patterns perpetuating inequities within systems and organizations and apply equity-centered leadership concepts to design policies and practices fostering equity, and inclusion. 
  • Analyze how inequities occur, are maintained, and are disrupted through equity-centered leadership in complex systems and organizations. 
  • Develop a personal equity leadership framework incorporating relevant scholarship and real-life scenarios introduced in the course. 

This course will introduce students to the extent of and rationale for partnership in local government, demonstrate the opportunities and threats that organizational complexity present to government officials, and facilitate the development of resilience plans that account for the links created by resources, power, and partnerships. Specifically, the course has four learning objectives: 

  • Students will learn the foundations of inter-, intra- and cross-sectoral partnerships 
  • Students will discover how to analyze the power dynamics of complex partnerships, including risks and benefits 
  • Students will design resilient partnerships, considering values, resources, power, and risks 
  • Students will practice communication skills, both written and verbal, to aid in the successful management of partnerships and the development of a resilient organization 



Through this course, students learn to analyze the context of engagement, select and deploy appropriate methods, and develop a range of techniques for appropriate documentation to enable decision making and right action.  The course will introduce students to both conceptual frameworks and practical strategies, centering on equitable and inclusive stakeholder participation as a core value that helps local governments to build democratic legitimacy.   

Research reveals that for historically marginalized communities – geographic, economic, social – intentional community engagement practices can foster trust, and trust is foundational to legitimacy in an operational democracy.  It can provide a means to improve governments’ understanding of community needs and improve communities’ perception of local government’s performance.   

Through project-based learning, students gain experience using engagement practices to develop better means of engaging others in initiatives and develop more complete solutions.   

 Learning Outcomes include:  

  • Understand community engagement principles and concepts. 
  • Identify stakeholder needs, interests, and power dynamics with the goal of facilitating the empowerment and engagement of historically under-represented and excluded groups. 
  • Apply community engagement methods to develop insight, test assumptions, and create new partnerships in local contexts. 
  • Practice an array of documentation and communication methods that allow the results of engagements to be appropriately summarized for an array of audiences.   

To achieve these outcomes, each student will identify a ‘practice project’ to be design and deployed through the course using course materials.  Each person will also participate in a small learning group that will virtually provide feedback on each step of project development.  Faculty members will provide coaching and support to assist in appropriate project identification, scoping, delivery and documentation.   

In the capstone experience for the Building Resilient Local Government graduate certificate, students will be asked to bring the concepts learned in the other required courses – Collaborative and Management Across Sectors (Leading Complex Partnerships), Leading for Equity, and Methods for Engaging Communities – into a high intensity simulation of a circumstance in which local government must respond to high stress events.  Participants will connect conceptual frameworks and communication tools honed in other certificate classes to pragmatic problem solving by taking on real-world challenges in real time.  This will provide an opportunity to refine their skills and hone personal understanding of their strengths and limitations as local governmental leaders committed to improving institutional resiliency in these times.   

Learning Outcomes include:  


  • Recognize patterns in the emerging events and develop pragmatic action approaches.  
  • Practice equitable and effective responses in high stress settings using skills such as inquiry, analysis of power dynamics, probes to complex systems, and intentional communication.   
  • Practice skill of reflection-in-action which necessitates ongoing adjustments of strategies and tactics to respond to what emerges.   
  • Conduct reflection-on-action to develop more awareness and understanding of how you operate as a leader under stressful situations.  

Washington City/County Management Association (WCMA) Partnership

The Evans School has partnered with the WCMA to co-design course content and provide fellowships to WCMA members participating in this certificate.

Evans School Graduate Certificate participants who are current WCMA members will receive an Evans School fellowship covering an additional 1/3 of the tuition.

Program Schedule, Tuition and Fees

View a detailed schedule of program dates, tuition and fees here.

Evans School Graduate Certificate participants who are current WCMA members will receive an Evans School fellowship covering an additional 1/3 of the tuition.

Applicant Requirements

  • Local government leader committed to building capacity for resilience within their context.
  • A bachelor’s degree with a minimum 3.0 grade point average on a 4.0 US scale. If the bachelor’s degree is awarded by an institution with no grading system, equivalent measures of academic performance is required; or, at least a 3.0 grade point average on a 4.0 US scale for the last 90 graded quarter credits or 60 graded semester credits. For more information please refer to Policy 3.1 Graduate Admissions.
  • Not currently enrolled as a graduate student at the UW.

Admission Materials

  • $85 application fee
  • Resume
  • Statement of purpose
  • Unofficial transcript
  • One letter of recommendation

To Apply

Priority application deadline October 15, 2024. To apply:

  • Create an account in the Graduate Application system
  • Select “Graduate” as the application type
  • Narrow your search “By Degree”
  • Filter by degree “Graduate Certificate”
  • Select your program “Graduate Certificate in Leading Public Innovation.

Contact Us

Jackqueline Miller

Jackqueline Miller
Director of Admissions