By David Liebler.

When Nevada County Executive Officer Rick Haffey first heard that CSAC was developing a continuing education program, he was unsure what potential value it would have for his senior staff or Supervisors.

He’s now a believer – so much in fact that he has worked to formalize the Institute into the county’s professional development policies. Nevada County is the first county in the state that requires all senior executives within the first two years of their employment to earn the CSAC Institute for Excellence in County Government credential.

Earning a credential takes a commitment to life-long learning by the individual; 60 hours of coursework (30 credits) must be completed within two years. Half of these credits must come from core classes while the other half are comprised of electives.

Dozens of Nevada County senior staff have already received their credential with others well on their way. And the county is seeing other staff viewing the Institute as a pathway for professional development as they, too, move forward in earning their credential.

In talking with Nevada County staff, the Institute means more than earning a required credential. Staff members see it as a valuable tool, getting them out of their respective silos and providing insight into other county operations. They also have the opportunity to network with – and learn from – their colleagues throughout the state.

Haffey, who also serves on the Institute’s Governing Council, strongly believes that every county can benefit in the manner of Nevada. He recommends counties start off with a pilot program and “then embrace it and make it culturally part of your organization.”

The Institute isn’t just been a benefit to senior staff. At one point, all five of members of the Nevada County Board of Supervisors had also earned a credential from the Institute. Supervisor Nate Beason believes the Institute has helped him become a better elected official. “There’s so much to know in local government,” he explains. “Any opportunity to gain more knowledge is important.”

Yes, the CSAC Institute for Excellence in County Government is leaving its mark on Nevada County.

To learn more about the Institute and its current course offerings, visit