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The University of Maryland is working with former Prince George’s County executive Rushern L. Baker III on a leadership program to help newly elected local government officials learn the ropes, Maryland Matters has learned.
A former state legislator who left office in December after two terms, Baker said the program will fill a void.
“There is no program, once you become county executive, where you go and learn the ins and outs from people who’ve done it before,” he said in an interview.
The new program will be modeled loosely after the training that new members of Congress receive at the Harvard Kennedy School.
“I think it’s going to be great for us and will give us a chance to highlight the work that Maryland is already doing with its great leadership program,” he said.
The program will offer newly elected county leaders practical advice on staffing and their transition to power. It also will provide opportunities for them to network with veteran officeholders and other newcomers, Baker said.
“While we were going through the opioid crisis here in Maryland, the county executive in Erie County, New York, was actually doing some really innovative stuff on that issue,” Baker said. “He was also leading the way in suing pharmaceutical companies.”
University of Maryland President Wallace D. Loh is thrilled that Baker is launching this training institute for newly elected county and city officials, in partnership with the university’s School of Public Policy.
“The expertise and experience that he brings, joined with the academic assets of the University of Maryland, will result in an outstanding leadership and training” program, Loh said in a statement.
Baker hopes the program will eventually be expanded to include top non-elected personnel, such as chief administrative officers and their deputies, and city managers.
Most of the training will take place in College Park, Baker said, though some will take place elsewhere.
“We might want to do something in D.C. in partnership with [the National Association of Counties] at their office, when the county executives are here for lobbying, but the bulk of it will be at Maryland,” he said.
The university plans to announce additional details of the program in the fall.
In addition to his stint as head of Prince George’s County government, Baker served two years as head of the nonprofit County Executives of America, which will serve as a partner with the new leadership institute.
Baker was recently appointed by Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller Jr. (D-Calvert) to a position on the troubled University of Maryland Medical System Board of Directors.