Public Leadership Institute

About PLI

The San Diego Public Leadership Institute is focused on helping to build a bench of business professionals interested in pursuing elected office or appointed positions. This program is nonpartisan and works in concert with the Chamber’s efforts to make San Diego the most business-friendly region by identifying and fostering the development of future pro-business candidates.



PLI is geared toward business-minded leaders who have an interest in exploring future public leadership opportunities, either as a political candidate or appointee to a government board or commission, and discovering how their experience and talent could address public-policy challenges.

There is no commitment required to run for office, merely explore the possibility of serving as a public leader. A committee will select the class from applications and invited participants will receive a 100 percent scholarship, thanks to the generous support of program investors.

The 2017 class is now closed. Applications for the 2018 class will open winter 2018.

If you are interested in supporting PLI as a program sponsor, please contact Sherman Stocker, Corporate Relations Manager, at or 619-544-1354.

For participation questions or general program inquiries, please contact Sara Kamiab, Leadership Program Manager, at or call 619-544-1391.


“The PLI is a fantastic program. I [appreciated] hearing first hand from people who were involved in politics and policy and learning what it’s like to go through a campaign and be prepared for a leadership position. The class teaches you the skills to make a contribution.”

The Honorable Chris Cate
San Diego City Councilmember
San Diego PLI Class of 2013


The PLI curriculum covers candidacy, appointments, leadership and public policy and is taught by local experts and leaders from politics and business.

PLI members are divided into small groups by geography to develop stronger relationships and interact with one another on exercises that emphasize professional, personal, and political strategies for engagement.


Classes are taught by experts in the fields of candidacy, appointments, public issues, and leadership strategies. Networking events provide members with invaluable opportunities to build contacts. There is no commitment required to run for office, merely explore the possibility of one day serving as a public leader either as a candidate for public office or service on government boards or commissions.

Over the course of the seven-month course, participants will take part in lessons covering:

  • The Pre-Campaign Transition:  Personal, Professional, Political Game Plan and Assessments
  • How To File for Office
  • Landing an Appointment
  • Confidence in Fundraising
  • Messaging Matters and Delivering the Perfect Speech
  • Motivating Voters
  • Choosing Your Campaign Team
  • Regional Economic Development Strategies
  • Public Budgeting
  • Leadership Profiles
  • Delivering the Political Speech
  • Coalition Building
  • Voter Targeting
  • Regional Competitiveness

“As a small business owner, I developed sound financial management principles that now provide the cornerstone of my service as an elected official…PLI made a tremendous difference in my transition.”

The Honorable Bill Sandke
City of Coronado Councilmember
San Diego PLI Class of 2014

Meeting Dates & Attendance Requirement

Classes will meet at the San Diego Regional Chamber of Commerce, 402 W. Broadway #1000, San Diego, CA 92101.

The first session will be held Thursday, April 27 from 12:00 – 5:00 and Friday, April 28 from 9:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m.

Subsequent sessions will meet from noon – 5:00 p.m. on the following fourth-Thursday dates (Noon – 1:00 p.m. is reserved for lunch and social time; the program will begin at 1:00 p.m.):

  • May 25
  • June 22
  • July 27
  • August 24
  • September 28

The final session will be held Thursday, October 26 from 9:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m.

Members must meet the following attendance requirement to remain in the program and graduate: the April and October classes are mandatory in their entirety and members may miss one class from May to September.

While the program seeks to build the local bench of future public leaders, PLI cannot accept currently declared or filed candidates. Should a participant file for candidacy while in the program, she/he will be dismissed.

Please keep in mind that:

  • admittance does not guarantee a future candidate endorsement or support from program sponsors or anyone involved with the program directly or indirectly;
  • a limited number of applicants will be chosen by a selection committee, which will seek to choose the class it believes best represents the program’s mission;
  • this is a program for prospective public leaders and not for current or aspiring campaign workers or political consultants.

Questions?  Contact Sara Kamiab at or call 619-544-1391.

Frequently Asked Questions

Click here for a list of frequently asked questions.




If you are interested in supporting PLI as a program sponsor, please contact Sherman Stocker, Corporate Relations Manager, at or 619-544-1354.


For general program inquiries or to learn more about how you can get involved in PLI, contact Sara Kamiab at or call 619-544-1391.