Start: February 2009

Funder: Robert Wood Johnson Foundation


The Medicaid Leadership Institute (MLI), a program of the Center for Health Care Strategies (CHCS), provides a unique opportunity for Medicaid directors and their key staff from states across the political spectrum to develop the skills and expertise necessary to successfully lead and improve their state programs and health outcomes in an ever-changing policy environment.

Directors who are competitively selected to join MLI participate in a 10-month leadership development curriculum designed to cultivate the skills needed to transform Medicaid programs into national models of high-quality, cost-effective care. The objective of MLI is to increase Fellows’ substantive knowledge, technical expertise, strategic thinking, problem solving, and individual leadership and communication skills. It also provides Fellows with opportunities to build the capacity of senior managers by engaging them in leadership development and team-building activities.

Through the program, fellows will gain skills in key areas, including fostering delivery system innovation, leading effective multi-sector collaboration, engaging key stakeholders, communicating the impact of their programs, and developing leaders of the future. The program provides in-person training sessions, site visits, and coaching, as well as networking opportunities with peers, thought leaders, and policymakers. It exposes Fellows to three core program components:

  1. A proven change leadership model. Fellows and their senior managers receive expert training on change management, team building, cross-sector collaboration, strategic planning, and staff development.
  2. Individualized leadership coaching. Each Fellow is assigned a leadership coach who provides guidance throughout the Fellowship period. Expert mentors, including MLI alumni familiar with the challenges faced by Medicaid directors, provide personalized support and strategic advice around leadership and change management issues.
  3. Innovations in health and social services policy and delivery. Fellows meet with leading policy experts to discuss issues pertinent to state Medicaid programs, such as: delivery system reform; changes in publicly financed coverage; integrating health and social services, especially for complex populations; and other salient policy issues.

The Medicaid Leadership Institute was established in 2009 by CHCS through funding support made possible by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. The 2020 class of the Medicaid Leadership Institute marks the ninth group of Medicaid directors chosen for this prestigious executive training opportunity. With this next class, 53 directors in 38 states, the District of Columbia, and the U.S. Virgin Islands have participated in the program since 2009.