Founded in 1987, the Congressional Institute is a not-for-profit corporation dedicated to helping Members of Congress better serve their constituents and helping their constituents better understand the operations of the national legislature. The Institute sponsors major conferences for the benefit of Members of the U.S. Congress as well as a number of smaller gatherings, all devoted to an examination of important policy issues and strategic planning. The Institute also conducts important research projects consistent with its mission, develops resources such as a House Floor Procedures Manual and sponsors Oxford-style bipartisan Congressional debates.
The Institute sponsors major planning retreats for the benefit of Members of Congress and their staffs. It was involved in the first Bipartisan Congressional Retreat and the Women of the 21st Century conference in St. Louis. The Congressional Institute also sponsors retreats for congressional chiefs of staff, legislative directors, and communications directors. It provides space for Members and staff to discuss legislative priorities and strategies as well as develop professional relationships with each other and experts in their fields.
The Congressional Institute publishes Surviving Inside Congress (now in its 5th edition) for Capitol Hill staffers, people looking to work on Capitol Hill, and the public at large interested in learning more about how Capitol Hill works. The book has been used as a textbook in college and university classes.
The Institute is also deeply involved in congressional reform efforts that seek to make Congress more effective. To that end, the Institute publishes research and papers on numerous policy issues such as restoring earmarks responsibly, strengthening the authorization process, restoring checks and balances, and restoring regular order to the U.S. House of Representatives through an open amendment process. These papers are available for download and may be cited with credit to the Congressional Institute. Additional information and insight on congressional reform can be found on The Sausage Factory blog, which also includes opinion pieces published by Institute staff.
The Congressional Institute also sponsors the annual Congressional Art Competition, a celebration of artistic discovery by the nation’s high school students. Each congressional district hosts individual competition with the first-place artwork hanging in the Cannon Tunnel of the U.S. Capitol for one year.
A volunteer Board of Directors has general charge of the affairs, property and assets of the Institute. It is the duty of the Directors to carry out the aims and purposes of the Institute, and, to this end, to oversee and control all of its property and assets. The members of the Board of Directors are private sector community leaders.
Mark N Strand
Since 2007, Mark Strand has been President of the Congressional Institute, overseeing the non-profit founded in 1987 that is dedicated to helping Members of Congress better serve their constituents and helping their constituents better understand the operations of the national legislature.
Strand is a 2017 Harvard Kennedy School Institute of Politics Fellow. He is also an adjunct professor of legislative affairs at George Washington University’s Graduate School of Political Management, and the coauthor of the book Surviving Inside Congress. He also writes on The Sausage Factory blog, which provides an inside look at legislative strategies and procedures.
Strand spent nearly 24 years on Capitol Hill in both the House and the Senate, most recently serving as Chief of Staff to Senator Jim Talent (R-MO). He served as the Staff Director of the House Committee on Small Business when Talent was Chairman. He was also Chief of Staff for Reps. Bill Lowery (R-CA) and Stan Parris (R-VA). He has also served as a Legislative Director and a Press Secretary on Capitol Hill. During a brief interlude from the Hill from 2001-2002, Strand was Vice-President of Government Affairs for the American Water Works Company, the largest publicly held water utility in the United States.
Strand holds a Master’s Degree in Legislative Affairs from George Washington University’s Graduate School of Political Management and an M.B.A. in Marketing from the University of Phoenix. He graduated from Excelsior College of the University of New York with a Bachelor’s Degree in both Political Science and History.
Strand regularly speaks to organizations about how Congress works (or doesn’t!) and how congressional reforms could make Congress function more effectively. He frequently speaks to international audiences and participates on panels for the diplomatic community in Washington, DC, and travels overseas to discuss how roles, responsibilities, and interplay of the U.S. Congress, the White House and administration departments and agencies, and the Courts.
Besides speaking and lecturing on legislative politics, Strand teaches courses on Surviving Inside Congress, the pre-eminent book for Capitol Hill staff, those wanting to work on the Hill, and anyone who wishes to learn about the operations of Hill offices. He also regularly works with congressional offices on management issues.
Board of Directors
Mark N. Strand
David A. Bockorny
Barbara A. Morris-Lent
Jo-Marie St. Martin
Michael S. Johnson
Board Member Emeritus