Executive Seminar Program for National Resources

The Executive Seminar Program is a professional education program for midcareer natural resource professionals in public, private, tribal, and non-profit organizations. The program centers on live case studies of complex natural resource issues as catalysts for advanced leadership development and enhanced understanding of governance principals.

2021-22 Program Registration is Open!

Download the Program Flyer

About ESP

The Executive Seminar in Natural Resources Leadership (ESP) is a case-study based professional program run by Portland State University’s Hatfield School of Government that helps mid-career natural resource leaders explore and expand leadership competencies and establish pathways for career-long leadership learning and development.

Each year, the program visits communities throughout the west to connect with local leaders wrestling with their own natural resource challenges. Through presentation, conversation and guided study—and peer-to-peer sharing and teamwork—cohort members deepen their sense of leadership, build networks of support, and witness many different styles and approaches to solving complex leadership challenges. 

Recurring themes include understanding the role of civic capacity, collaborative governance, empathy, engaging diversity, leadership self-awareness and situational awareness, operating in uncertainty and ambiguity, coping with risk.

A total of four seminars are held during the program year. Three seminars of approximately one week each will be held on site to explore each case. A fourth two-day session is held on the Portland State campus to conclude the program with a review of leadership principles, techniques for policy resolution, and a summarization of insights gained by the participants. Finally, two three-hour “ESP Connect” sessions will be held via Zoom to connect recent program material with future sessions, continue the leadership learning, and allow a platform for ongoing cross-cohort interaction and support.

Download the complete list of case studies since 2000.

Advisory Board

The Executive Seminar Program Advisory Board is a diverse group of senior natural resource leaders from across the Pacific Northwest. The Advisory Board is crucial to the ongoing guidance, direction and success of the program. Advisory Board members provide general program oversight and feedback; forecast specific emphases or needs for leadership development in their agencies; suggest possible program year themes or areas of focus; suggest specific case study ideas and contacts for further exploration of cases; and assist with program outreach. Most Advisory Board members are also ESP alumnae.

Who should attend?

Participants in the program come from natural resource agencies, tribes and NGOs from across the West with emphasis in the Pacific Northwest. Many participants are approaching mid-career, and have managed specific initiatives, sub-programs and projects.

Fresh insights and skills gained through the Executive Seminar Program help participants build their leadership portfolios and prepare for agency—and organization-wide leadership roles. Past ESP alums have gone on to senior and regional leadership roles including agency directors, policy advisors and program managers.

What do participants say about the program?

"ESP was one of the most rewarding training experiences I have ever participated in. It challenged my assumptions about leadership in public service and helped me identify goals for improvement as well as cultivate leadership skills in my staff. I learned the value of establishing relationships and maintaining communication with stakeholders and others, because they had direct ramifications on the success of natural resources outcomes. ESP provided me with the opportunity to meet and develop long lasting friendships with other natural resource agencies, whom I will continue to learn from and seek partnerships."

"There is tremendous value ESP brings through the selected case studies, the participants, and the reflections. Thinking about the issues and the intersection of the collective knowledge and experiences is invaluable. ESP allowed us to learn through that sharing."

Past and Current Participating Organizations

  • Bonneville Power Administration
  • Bureau of Land Management
  • Bureau of Reclamation
  • Columbia River Inter-Tribal Fish Commission
  • Confederated Tribes of Grand Ronde
  • Environmental Protection Agency
  • International Paper Company
  • Hancock and Lone Rock Timber Companies
  • Montana State Forester Office
  • National Marine Fisheries Service
  • National Park Service
  • Natural Resources Conservation Service
  • Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife
  • Oregon Department of Forestry
  • Oregon Forest Industries Council
  • Port of Portland
  • Portland Water Bureau
  • U.S. Army Corps of Engineers
  • U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service
  • U.S. Forest Service
  • Washington Department of Ecology
  • Washington Department of Natural Resources

Executive Seminar Program Faculty & Staff

Doug Decker, Program Director
doug.decker@pdx.edu | 503-901-5510 for program questions and general questions

Erin Steinkruger, Academic Lead
e.steinkruger@pdx.edu | 907-406-9075

Josh Metzler, Program Coordinator
jmetzler@pdx.edu | 503-725-5190 for program details, logistics questions, and general questions

Dr. Craig Shinn, Senior ESP Fellow

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