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Civility in Public Service

Scott Raecker

The Robert D. and Billie Ray Center's mission is to improve civility through character development and ethical leadership.

As part of Drake University's Center for Public Democracy, The Ray Center applies research to mobilize positive, meaningful, and sustainable impact for stakeholders through assessment, development and delivery of curricular resources, engaging training, outreach, special events, and partnership development impacting multiple stakeholder groups including those in the public service arena.

The vision of The Ray Center is to transform lives and strengthen communities by equipping individuals and communities to embrace and practice good character and ethical leadership by demonstrating trustworthiness, respect, responsibility, fairness, caring, and citizenship.

The Ray Center is positioned as a local, statewide, and national leader in the development and delivery of best practices and engagement impacting civility. The Ray Center has worked to enhance ethical leadership and civility in the public arena for over 15 years and has worked with state legislative leaders in all 50 U.S. states, all U.S. territories, Canada, and Mexico annually for nearly 10 years. The Center is also field-testing the first public service culture assessment to provide data-driven decision-making for enhanced professional development across the country.

Professional Development Topics

The Ray Center framework for public service engagements includes research-based strategies and tools developed through our consortium partner the Excellence With Integrity Institute. Public Service Professional Development Sessions include:

  • Creating a Culture of Excellence and Civility
  • Shaping Group Norms
  • Integrity: Without It Nothing Works
  • Communication and Teamwork
  • How to Identify and Manage Stress
  • Mastering Care-Frontation
  • Developing Growth Mindset
  • Mastering Goal Achievement
  • Attitude + Effort = Improvement
  • Managing and Engaging in Effective Committee Meetings
  • Consensus Building in Polarized Times

Custom sessions can also be provided on Leadership, Management/Supervision, and Coaching.

Sessions can be modified in time from 90 minutes or more with multiple components of sessions grouped together or offered in a series. Sessions are customized to meet client needs and have been successfully offered to both legislators and legislative staff. 

Council of State Governments

The Ray Center has worked to enhance ethical leadership and civility in the public arena for over 15 years and for nearly 10 years has worked annually with state legislative leaders in all 50 U.S. states, all U.S. territories, Canada, and Mexico. 

The Ray Center provides customized professional development to impact state legislative leaders and other public officials through a partnership with the Council of State Governments (CSG). These professional development sessions focus on creating a culture of excellence and civility to the four regional CSG leadership academies:

Additional public service engagements through CSG include:

  • CSG South Staff Academy for Governmental Excellence 
  • CSG West Border Academy brings together legislators from the US and Mexico border states to facilitate cooperative learning and the exchange of ideas to strengthen leadership and legislative institutions. The Ray Center has provided programming each year of the initial three years of the BLA.
  • Legislative leaders and legislative staff through the regional CSG centers, including the California Senate, California Senate and Assembly staff, Washington State legislators, Washington State legislative staff, Wyoming legislative staff, Idaho legislators and legislative staff, Alaska legislative staff, Western state legislative staff directors, Midwest state legislative staff directors, Missouri legislative staff, Maine legislators, Louisiana legislative staff, U.S. Virgin Islands Senators.
  • The Ray Center has presented at the annual CSG conferences in both the West and Midwest.

Facilitating Challenging Issues

The Ray Center also provides assessments/surveys, strategic planning, professional development, and facilitation on challenging issues such as governance structure and funding models for various municipal organizations that have included the Des Moines Area Regional Transit, Metro Waste Authority, Central Iowa Water Trails, Des Moines Public Schools Athletic Advisory Committee, Capital Crossroads 2.0, Greater Des Moines Partnership, and the cities of Altoona, Urbandale, and Ft. Dodge.


CSG partnership sessions are led by Scott Raecker, Executive Director of The Robert D. and Billie Ray Center at Drake University and a former Iowa legislator.  Scott brings over 20 years of experience in the field of ethical leadership, character development, and civility combined with 14 years of legislative experience as a member of the Iowa House of Representations (1999-2012). Scott served in numerous leadership roles in the legislature including chair of the House Appropriations Committee, chair of the Ethics Committee, and chair of the Midwest Council of Government’s Legislative Leadership Institute. Scott’s public service experience and professional passion for civility has led to his work with The Ray Center impacting state legislative leaders and staff in all 50 states and U.S. territories as well as leaders in Canada and Mexico.

Scott is a presenting faculty member of the Council of State Governments legislative leadership institutes in the West, Midwest, South, and East regions and has been featured as a keynote speaker and presenter on ethics and civility to state legislatures across the United States. 

About Governor Robert D. Ray

Governor Robert D. Ray was an iconic statesman who served as Governor of the state of Iowa for fourteen years (1969-1983). He was also an international humanitarian who looked to positively impact the lives of others through the practical application of best practice strategies to support a better world. The work of The Ray Center in the public arena honors Governor Ray’s vision and lifelong engagement in public service that was exemplified by his character, ethical leadership, and civility.

As longtime Chairman of The Ray Center, Governor Ray led the strategic vision to bring together leading experts and collaborating organizations committed to the advancement of civility, ethical leadership, and character development. The impact of these initiatives has allowed The Ray Center to develop and export creative programming and achieve status as a premier think-tank for our core issues of civility, ethical leadership, and character development in our state, nation, and world.

August 21, 2020
August 20, 2020
August 18, 2020