Republican Member of Congress Annual Legislative Planning Retreat

Since 1987, the Congressional Institute has sponsored the annual Republican Members’ planning retreat to give lawmakers a chance to strategize for the upcoming legislative year.

The Institute was originally established to sponsor the retreats because t former House Republican Leader Bob Michel wanted to hold planning meetings away from the U.S. Capitol and not use public tax dollars to pay for it. The Institute is a 501(c)4 nonprofit organization.

These planning meetings create an opportunity for Republican Members to develop better working relationships with their colleagues, hear from private and public sector speakers, learn about new and emerging technologies, discuss national issues and exchange ideas. Each year, the Congressional Institute invites keynote speakers who present big ideas for solving problems or who have inspirational stories to share with Members of Congress.

The meetings draw some of the most significant figures in government. Speakers have included: Presidents George H.W. Bush, George W. Bush, Barack Obama, and Donald Trump; Vice Presidents Dick Cheney and Mike Pence; Amb. Nikki Haley; Secretary of Defense James Mattis; Secretary of State Rex Tillerson; Secretary of Labor Elaine Chao; former Govs. Haley Barbour (MS), Chris Christie (NJ), Mitch Daniels (IN), Luis Fortuño (PR), Michael Leavitt (UT), Bob McDonnell (VA), Tim Pawlenty (MN), Rick Perry (TX) and Mitt Romney(MA); former NYC Mayor Rudy Giuliani; former Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives Newt Gingrich; former United Kingdom Prime Ministers Tony Blair and Theresa May; College Football Hall of Fame Coach Lou Holtz; motivational speaker Simon Sinek; Arthur Brooks, author and former President of American Enterprise Institute; conservative radio hosts Hugh Hewitt and Denis Prager; Jim Koch, co-founder and chairman of the Boston Beer Company, the producers of Samuel Adams beer; presidential biographer Jon Meacham; and U.S. Army Capt. (ret.) Sean Parnell, best selling author of Outlaw Platoon.

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Planning Retreats for Chiefs of Staff, and Legislative and Communications Directors

The Congressional Institute sponsors annual planning retreats for House Republican chiefs of staff, and legislative and communications directors. These meetings give staffers the chance to meet their colleagues, hear from subject-matter experts, and inspirational speakers. The conferences are family-friendly events that take place away from Washington, DC.

Each office on Capitol Hill functions, essentially, as its own small business with its own budget and internal HR practices in addition to the rules and regulations set by each chamber of Congress. These individual offices encompass locations in Washington, DC, and throughout each congressional district. Management expert Mark Horstman of Manager Tools, Inc., has been a fixture at the chiefs of staff meetings, discussing best practices for hiring, internal meetings, supervisor processes, and other issues that are common to office management. Unique issues can arise at this juncture of politics and official office management, though, and Mark devotes a significant amount of time to answering questions from the chiefs.

The planning retreat for Legislative and Communications Directors features subject-area experts for both policy and media, including top minds from social media and technology companies and respected scholars from think tanks.

High-profile individuals who have spoken at these meetings include Arthur Brooks, former president of the American Enterprise Institute; former U.S. Secretary of Commerce Carlos Gutierrez; former U.S. Representative and former Google Vice President for public policy at Susan Molinari; author and inspirational speaker Erik Weihenmayer; Wall Street Journal columnist Kim Strassel; CNN commentator Mary Katharine Ham.

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Individual Office Retreats

The Congressional Institute facilitates strategy retreats for individual offices on Capitol Hill. President Mark Strand leads offices through team-building exercises, defining roles, embracing technology, and developing better constituent outreach. Strand spent nearly 24 years on Capitol Hill in nearly every job possible. He served as Chief of Staff to Missouri U.S. Sen. Jim Talent, and U.S. Reps. Bill Lowery of California and Stan Parris of Virginia; Staff Director for the U.S. House Committee on Small Business; Legislative Director; and Press Secretary.

Strand co-authors Surviving Inside Congress, a resource for Capitol Hill employees that he uses to inform people of how best to take advantage of their roles. The book is available for order here

Capitol Hill offices interested in scheduling a strategy retreat with Strand can contact the Congressional Institute by calling or emailing.

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