Learning Series

The Government Performance Lab (GPL) regularly hosts and facilitates learning series, elevating practical lessons from state and local governments and providing a space for peer-to-peer learning. Explore this page to find materials from past learning series, including session recordings and recaps.

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Stimulus Learning Series              GPL 10 Years               

                 Stimulus Learning Series                                       10th Anniversary Learning Series                    

10th Anniversary Learning Series

October 1, 2021 marked the 10th anniversary of the Harvard Kennedy School Government Performance Lab (GPL). To kick off this celebratory anniversary year, we hosted three conversations highlighting strategies the GPL is developing to accelerate progress in building just and effective systems in the years ahead. We invite you to watch the recordings from the sessions below to hear from inspiring leaders who are reimagining public safety, scaling service innovation, and directing government spending more equitably.

10th Anniversary Learning Series Schedule

Incubating Local Innovation to Spark System-wide Change

State and local governments are often called the laboratories of democracy. So how can we position local experimentation to have system-wide impact? The GPL hosted a conversation with JooYeun Chang, Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary at the Administration for Children and Families (ACF) at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, about her work incubating and scaling innovation at Michigan’s Children’s Services Agency and now at ACF. This conversation illuminated important lessons for taking promising models to scale at the local and national level.


Implementing Alternative 911 Emergency Response Systems

Across the country, governments are exploring alternative responses to nonviolent 911 calls that reduce reliance on traditional law enforcement and better connect residents to other forms of needed support, including mental and behavioral health services. To support these efforts, the GPL recently announced the selection of five jurisdictions for an Alternative 911 Emergency Response Implementation Cohort and a community of practice open to all governments working on alternative emergency responses. This session featured government leaders from that cohort sharing how they got to this moment of action and the initial steps they are taking to prepare for implementation of their new models. Featuring:

  • Rachael Eisenberg, Director, Office of Criminal Justice, Philadelphia, PA
  • Ginger Spencer, Deputy City Manager, Phoenix, AZ
  • Katie Balderas, Equity Officer, Long Beach, CA


Using Procurement To Advance Equity And Inclusion

Procurement is a powerful – but often overlooked – tool for improving racial equity. Most cities spend 30-50 percent of their annual budget through procurement and contracts, from paving roads to programming at community centers, yet Minority and Women-owned Business Enterprises (MWBEs) receive only a small share of government contract dollars. This session highlighted some of the strategies leaders are using to drive more dollars to small and diverse businesses and achieve more equitable outcomes for historically marginalized populations. Featuring:

  • Shatorah Donovan, Chief Diversity Officer, Buffalo, NY
  • Amber Paxton, Director of Office of Financial Empowerment, Department of Neighborhoods & Citizen Engagement, Lansing, MI
  • Michelle Wilson, Purchasing Agent, Department of Financial Management, Long Beach, CA


Stimulus Learning Series

The American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) presents a once-in-a-generation opportunity to address the systemic inequities laid bare by the pandemic and reshape the public systems that support vulnerable families. The GPL recently hosted a series of learning sessions with state and local governments, seeking to better understand how they intend to use ARPA to drive impact in areas such as benefits & economic mobility, workforce, early childhood, behavioral health & homelessness and procurement

Explore the materials from each session in the Stimulus Learning Series schedule below: 

Stimulus Learning Series Schedule

August 25, 2021: Workforce Development

On August 25 at 3:00pm EST, the GPL explored how governments can use ARPA to make transformative investments in their workforce. The learning session, entitled “Developing a durable workforce system for the future,” featured short presentations from select governments about what they are planning in this space, such as reforms designed to streamline application and enrollment processes, invest in employer-focused partnerships, and experiment with ways to more effectively help job seekers connect to, and persist along, good-paying career pathways. The session featured short presentations from:

  • Heather Johnson, Commissioner, Maine Department of Economic Community Development

  • Angela Carr Klitzsch, President and CEO, EmployIndy, Marion County’s Workforce Development Board

  • Catherine Moga Bryant, Director, Policy and Strategic Planning, North Carolina Pandemic Recovery Office & Jonathan Meyer, Senior Analyst, North Carolina Office of State Budget and Management

Review the Slides Watch the Recording Read the Recap


August 10, 2021: Using Procurement to Advance Innovation

On August 10 at 1:00pm ET, the GPL facilitated a deep dive into how procurements can amplify governments’ ARPA system transformation efforts. The learning session, entitled “Using procurement to advance innovation,” shared best practices, tools, and examples designed to help jurisdictions use procurement and contracting to achieve better outcomes for residents, including strategies to: use procurements to advance departmental and jurisdiction-wide goals; make procurement processes efficient, inviting, and transparent; and lay the foundation for measuring progress and driving continual improvement.

Review the Slides Watch the Recording Read the Recap


August 2, 2021: Behavioral Health and Housing

On August 2 at 2:00pm ET, the GPL explored the different ways governments are planning to use ARPA funds to strengthen behavioral health and housing systems. The learning session, entitled “Behavioral Health & Housing: Developing more equitable, preventative and holistic supports,” featured short presentations from select governments about what they are planning in this space, such as expansions of community-based and rapid-response supports; implementation of criminal justice diversion and crisis response programs; and investments in long-term supportive housing and affordable homeownership options for historically disadvantaged populations. The session included presentations from:

  • Mark Attia, Assistant Secretary, Massachusetts Executive Office for Administration and Finance

  • Tyler Jaeckel, Chief of Staff, Colorado Office of State Planning & Budgeting

  • Stephanie Welch, Deputy Secretary of Behavioral Health, California Health and Human Services Agency

Review the Slides Watch the Recording Read the Recap


July 29, 2021: Guaranteed Income Programs

On July 29 at 3:00pm ET, the GPL facilitated a deep dive into guaranteed income programs and important design decisions. As jurisdictions explore ways to use American Recovery Act Plan (ARPA) funds to transform benefits delivery systems and advance economic mobility, many are considering experiments with direct cash assistance to support those most in need. This learning session explored upfront implementation decisions for such initiatives, including program goals, eligibility determinations, and evaluation design, and featured insights from jurisdictions currently piloting direct cash assistance programs, including initial findings from the Chelsea Eats Guaranteed Income Program - the largest guaranteed income experiment in the country.


Review the Slides Watch the Recording Read the Recap


July 15, 2021: Early Childhood and Families

On July 15 at 1:00pm ET, the GPL explored the different ways governments are planning to use ARPA funds to support children and families. The learning session, entitled “Early Childhood & Families: Transforming early supports to enhance lifelong opportunity,” featured short presentations from select governments about what they are planning in this space, such as investments in home visiting services, development of resource hubs for families, and efforts to improve childcare service quality and delivery. The session sought to identify common opportunities, challenges, and questions across participating jurisdictions. Short presentations were provided by the following practitioners:

  • Beth Bye, Commissioner, Connecticut's Office of Early Childhood

  • Sarah Abrahams, Deputy Associate Commissioner of Prevention and Intervention, Texas's Department of Family and Protective Services


Review the Slides  Watch the Recording Read the Recap


July 9, 2021: Benefits and Economic Mobility

On July 9 at 2:30pm ET, the GPL explored the different ways governments are planning to use ARPA funds to improve benefits delivery. The learning session, entitled “Benefits and Economic Mobility: Building more coordinated, responsive supports for those most in need,” featured short presentations from:


  • Duke Storen, Commissioner, Virginia's Department of Social Services discussing the state's plans to use this moment to transform the customer experience for benefits programs.

  • Margo Fudge, Deputy Director and Alfredo Guardado, Assistant Director for Departmental Operations, San Diego's Child Welfare Services talking about the county's plans to use cash transfers to support families at risk of entering foster case.

  • Rachel Wright and Carl Sims from The Council on State Governments sharing the latest trends in planned ARPA benefits investments nationwide.


Review the Slides   Watch the Recording Read the Recap