A Bootcamp For Leading Change with Entrepreneurial Thought and Action
at the Hometown Summit.


Presented by

An exclusive program
for Virginia Leaders

In today’s uncertain and polarized political environment, launching new policies seems like a daunting challenge. But opportunities abound for policymakers who can harness uncertainty to create growth and value.This intensive program helps mayors, elected officials, and city and county executives designed, launch, and grow new pilot projects.

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An introduction to the entrepreneurship mindset for policy makers

A Proven Methodology

The VPER curriculum is taught through the logic of Babson College’s renowned Entrepreneurial Thought and Action® and SE@UVA; both stress the importance of action and experimentation alongside analysis and reflection. Through this methodology, the Retreat provides policy entrepreneurs with the skills they need to develop a path to resiliency and collaborative change-making.

Action-Based Learning

This program features a carefully designed blend of lectures, group work, and action-based learning that focuses on assessment, feasibility, and execution of new policy ideas and concepts. Participants work in teams, prepare and deliver short presentations on their new policy ideas, and receive personalized advice from faculty members about potential risks and barriers to success.

A Cohort of Leaders

Because the VPER is designed for high-potential policy entrepreneurs who are committed to solving tough problems, participants will find themselves surrounded by like-minded individuals from around the state—experienced professionals who are working to create new opportunities.

Unique Learning Environment

The inaugural Virginia policy entrepreneur cohort will work together in an intimate classroom setting and will integrate content with the larger Hometown Summit sessions, accessing practical information and benefitting from applied learning.



The program features a carefully designed blend of lectures, group work, and action-based learning. Key topic areas include:


Introduction to the mindset and entrepreneurship
Personal assessment
Ideation techniques
Building effective teams


The importance of capital efficiency
Harnessing resources through entrepreneurial financing
Lean Management & Experimentation


Constituent, Market, and Resource Assessment
Idea shaping and policy definition
Business model development

Policy makers will leave with:


  • An opportunity-centered mindset for capitalizing on ideas
  • Steps for constructing a business model and applying this to policy
  • Ways to test the viability of a policy
  • Best practices for financing in resource constrained environments
  • Best practices for hiring entrepreneurial teams
  • Ways to launch new programs, test policies, and grow quickly and efficiently
  • An entrepreneurial process for articulating your ideas and vision

Participants will:


  • Learn key assessment and feasibility techniques including design thinking, product definition, rapid iteration testing, and designing the minimum viable policy product
  • Acquire tools for assessing policy and constituent fit including understanding target demographics and constituent segmentation
  • Develop an understanding of how to grow and nurture the new services or products through effective brand building, cash flow management and resource allocation, and embracing change and uncertainty to better serve constituents
  • Gain a better understanding of themselves as policy entrepreneurs including their motivations, roles, and key responsibilities
  • Explore the notion of building a winning team and overcoming common challenges facing leaders of local government



Day I – Thursday / April 13th


Open Registration + Hometown Summit


Casual Networking Lunch


Opening Plenary: Jefferson School Auditorium

Build.Think.Act: Seizing the Opportunity for Policy Entrepreneurship in Small and Mid-Sized Cities

Dr. Saras Sarasvathy, UVA Darden

Steven Olikara, Millennial Action Project
Laura Weidman Powers, CODE2040
Mayor Levar Stoney, City of Richmond


VPER Session I: Marriott

Entrepreneurial Thought & Action:
Don’t Try to Predict The Future, Create It

Given the increasing level of uncertainty in both political and market environments, policymakers must learn how to navigate effectively in an increasingly uncertain world. In this opening session, participants will be thrown into an immersive learning challenge designed to raise their awareness of the difference between managerial and entrepreneurial thinking. They gain a better understanding of the impact of increasing degrees of uncertainty on the entrepreneurial process and a crash-course in the key concepts that will help policymakers solve the wicked problems that keep them up at night.

Dr. Julie Engel, Babson College
Cheryl Kiser, Babson College
John Kluge, Babson College




VPER Session II: Marriott

Constituents vs. Customers: Understanding the Entrepreneurial Side of Government

This session illustrates the application of entrepreneurial thinking to the challenge of providing excellent customer service in the public sector. Participants will analyze the implications of regarding people served by government as customers and will identify the major categories of customers of a small city government and the opportunities and challenges presented by providing excellent service to these groups. Participants will work in teams to develop recommendations for improving and implementing excellent customer service and will discuss implementation issues including resource availability, customer feedback, and the development of metrics.

Jim Cheng, UVA Engineering, Former Secretary of Commerce, VA
John Kluge, Babson College


VPER Cohort Session III: Marriott

Case Studies on Using Entrepreneurship to Foster Resilience and Transform Communities

In this special session, the VPER cohort will hear two case studies on the power of purpose-driven entrepreneurial mindsets, inspiring VPER participants to see opportunity in the most unlikely of places and proving that entrepreneurship can be taught to anyone.

John Kluge
Special Guests:
Dr. Greg Fairchild, UVA Darden
Christopher Poulos, Life of Purpose, University of North Texas


Day II – Friday / April 14th

8:30 – 9:30

VPER Session IV: Marriott

Idealab: Understanding Your Why, Your What, & Your How

Cheryl Kiser, Babson College
John Kluge, Babson College


VPER Session V: Marriott

Design Thinking, Innovation Processes, & Pilot Project Creation

How might we generate new and innovative policy ideas using design thinking principles? In this immersive workshop, policy entrepreneurs select a challenge that they are currently facing. Dr. Christine Mahoney will guide them in building a prototype of a pilot project to “solve” the chosen problem using design thinking and iterative innovation processes. Participants will learn how to create new policy ideas using association techniques, discover creativity blockers and enablers, and gain an appreciation of the power of empathy to make their policies more effective. Participants will leave with an implementation map to launch an entrepreneurial project of their own design.

Dr. Christine Mahoney, UVA Batten School of Leadership and Public Policy
Cheryl Kiser, Babson College
John Kluge, Babson College


VPER Luncheon: Tavern & Grocery

Sponsored by City of Lynchburg


VPER Session VI: Marriott

Integral Leadership: Who You Need to Be to Do What You Want to Do

In this closing session, VPER participants will work with leading executive coach, organization development and team development consultant Dr. Julie Engel using emotional intelligence, mindful awareness, frameworks for building effective and satisfying team relationships, sustaining well-being, and practical applied neurobiology to create individualized leadership develop plans. Participants will reflect on lessons learned and as a collaborative cohort, chart their course for the following six months.

Dr. Julie Engel, Babson College