Nevada City, Calif. November 21, 2023 – A developer wants to build the city a free sports complex, the teachers union wants a raise, and the city manager is in danger of getting fired.

Those were just a few of the highlights of the jam-packed agenda for the fictional joint meeting of the Harmony Valley City Council and School Board meeting last Friday.

It was all part of a role-playing exercise for two dozen community leaders participating in the Nevada County Community Leadership Institute (NCCLI).

The event, held at the Nevada County Government Center in Nevada City, was the finale of the institute’s all-day program on local government. Earlier in the day, participants heard a panel discussion featuring Board of Supervisors Chair Ed Scofield as well as representatives from the Grass Valley and Nevada City city councils.

Brian Stoltey, the new mission integration director for Sierra Nevada Memorial Hospital, said he found the program refreshing. “I am pretty jaded about federal politics,” he said. “Today highlighted a striking and beautiful contrast between our local elected officials and many of the self-interested politicians in the news.”

NCCLI mock board meeting
NCCLI mock board meeting

Stoltey and other participants staged the mock government meeting in the Nevada County Board of Supervisors Chambers. The imagined purpose of the meeting was to discuss the use of school facilities by the city and community groups and receive public input. Stoltey played the part of a reporter.

After the exercise, participants said it gave them compassion for the board members who must read and understand complex information in a short time and make important decisions.

Nevada County Executive Officer Alison Lehman, who is volunteer co-chair of NCCLI and has been helping with the program for 20 years, said events like Friday’s program energize her. “We talk about how residents can become engaged and how to get things done through collaboration,” she said. “Many people who have gone through this class are now elected officials or leaders.”

NCCLI is a nine-month program featuring monthly sessions on different aspects of the community. Other topics include local media, economic development, and education. The program is for people who are interested in leadership and want to grow, said Lori Burkart Frank, the NCCLI facilitator. “They are all interested in being able to better collaborate and learn more about their community,” she said.

Applications for the program are accepted in the summer. The cost is $750. For more information, contact Lori Burkart Frank at 530-478-9803 or