Skip to content

Leadership Excellence for Nonpartisan Staff (LENS)

Leadership Excellence for Nonpartisan Staff (LENS)

Strengthening the legislative institution by developing the next generation of principled leaders

CSG West, in partnership with the Robert D. and Billie Ray Center at Drake University, hosts the Leadership Excellence for Nonpartisan Staff (LENS) program. The LENS program brings together rising leaders in various nonpartisan staff offices in Western state legislatures for an eight-week, collaborative leadership development curriculum designed to bolster the strength of legislative institutions and build a pipeline for principled governance in state offices for the next generation.  

For more information on the LENS program, please contact Jennifer Schanze at

What is LENS?

LENS participants can expect to delve into the following areas of leadership: 

  • Building self-awareness on leadership and communication styles through personality assessment(s) 
  • Strategies to help navigate the nonpartisan responsibility and protect the legislative institution 
  • Navigating conflict and difficult situations through communication and influence 
  • Managing up, managing down, and working collaboratively with peers  
  • Building a culture of excellence for optimal performance 

During the program, participants can expect to spend up to 3 hours per week on virtual sessions, group collaboration, individual homework, and mentorship.  The LENS curriculum will include ten online classes, one individual project, one group project, and working with an in-state mentor appointed by the legislative agency director to provide coaching and accountability on goal-setting progress.  

After the following year’s legislative session, each LENS cohort will gather at the CSG West Annual Meeting to engage in additional leadership development and relationship building.   

Who Attends?

Participation in the program is dependent on appointments from each state’s agency directors.


2023 Alumni


Christian Gruening, Engrossing Clerk 

Derek Lail, Technical Support Specialist  

Katie Lewis, Payroll Officer 


Sharon Everett, Principal Deputy Legislative Counsel 

Ann Hollingshead, Principal Fiscal and Policy Analyst 


Jamie Grant, Lead Systems Administrator 

Conrad Imel, Senior Attorney 

Julia Jackson, Principal Research Analyst 


Johnny Brannon, Senior Attorney 

Matt Coke, Senior Attorney . 


Erin Phipps, Revenue Analyst 


Toni Henneman, Research Analyst 

Megan Moore, Research Analyst 

Casey Pallister, Research Analyst 

New Mexico 

Amy Chavez-Romero, Asst. Director for Legislative Affairs 

Veronica Grace, Human Resources Supervisor 

Joanne Vandestreek, Senior Legislative Librarian 


Cesar Malgarejo, Principal Policy Analyst 

Diane Thornton, Chief Principal Policy Analyst 


Sam Koopman, Senior Committee Assistant 

Carlos Valenzuela, Language Access Coordinator 

Adam Villareal, Senior Accountant 


Sean Faherty, Finance Manager 

Jesse Martinson, Audit Manager 

Thomas Vaughn, Managing Associate General Counsel 


Susan Jones, Senior Coordinator/Counsel 

Megan Mulvihill, Senior Research Analyst 


Pierre Chesnais, Associate Research Analyst 

Brian Fuller, Senior Staff Attorney 

Elizabeth Martineau, Senior Fiscal Analyst 

Program Sponsorship

For information on sponsor opportunities, please contact Edgar Ruiz, CSG West Director.

Upcoming Events
See All
Past Events
See All
Image for 76th CSG West Annual Meeting

76th CSG West Annual Meeting

This year marks an exciting one for CSG West. We are thrilled to invite you, on behalf of…

Read More
Image for Western Legislative Academy

Western Legislative Academy

The Western Legislative Academy (WLA) offers legislators in their first four-years of service an opportunity to gather with…

Read More
Image for 74th CSG West Annual Meeting

74th CSG West Annual Meeting

Mark your calendar for the 74th CSG West Annual Meeting to be hosted September 28 – October 1,…

Read More
Image for 2020 Virtual Annual Meeting

2020 Virtual Annual Meeting

Due to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, CSG West hosted a first of its kind virtual Annual…

Read More

See All
Image for <strong>Congratulations to the WLA Class of 2022!</strong>” /></a>
        <h4 class=Congratulations to the WLA Class of 2022!

The Western Legislative Academy (WLA) Class of 2022 convened December 13-16 in Colorado Springs, Colorado, where 42 participants…

Read More
Image for Wyoming Representative Mike Yin Elected 2023 CSG West Vice Chair

Wyoming Representative Mike Yin Elected 2023 CSG West Vice Chair

During the Annual Meeting each year, the CSG West Executive Committee elects an incoming vice chair based on…

Read More