Government Relations Certificate

The Government Relations Certificate is a professional development noncredit certificate targeting policy professionals in and out of government. The program focuses on the economic conditions and political processes of lobbying to demystify how lobbyists, strategic policy consultants, and similar policy advocates interact with the government on behalf of their clients and employers, including:

  • Macro-level trends of the Washington lobbying community, including overviews of lobbying firm structure and competition; corporate, association, non-profit, and institutional presence; industry and economic sector representation; and the “revolving door” between government and private sector;
  • Micro-level patterns in government relations business development, such as the structure of in-house and contract lobbyist teams; principal-client, association-member, and key stakeholder relationship building and monitoring; client recruitment and retention; and Washington office management;
  • Inside policy advocacy strategies, including tactics such as cultivating allies in government; varieties of personal contact with policymakers; issue-based coalition outreach and management; communication and messaging; and
  • Outside strategies, including grassroots mobilization, advocacy “fly-in” days, public relations campaigns, and strategic social media communication in the government relations context;
  • Political law regulatory compliance, including lobbying transparency, foreign agents registration, government contract lobbying disclosure, and campaign finance law
  • Ethical responsibilities to employers, clients, policymakers, and the general public.

Dates: Future dates to be announced
View Schedule

Time: 4:00 p.m. - 6:30 p.m.

Location: JMU Washington Center, DuPont Circle

Faculty: Dr. Timothy LaPira

Program Fee: $1195


Participants will meet on five occasions at the JMU Washington Center located in Dupont Circle. Between class meetings, students are responsible for completing assigned readings on the scheduled topic and to engage in another activity, as assigned. These activities include two in-person informational interviews with a senior, established government relations or legislative affairs professionals identified by the institute, as well as two hypothetical simulations that resemble relevant, real world problems such as crafting a request for a proposal for a lobbying contract, developing a lobbying strategy for an issue plucked from the news, or interpreting the purpose and consequences of a complex parliamentary procedure in Congress.  


Class Date


Class 1 

Trends in Government Relations

Class 2 

Government Relations Management

Class 3 

Inside Policy Advocacy Strategies

Class 4 

Outside Policy Advocacy Strategies

Class 5 

Ethical Government Relations

Guest Speaker Topics*

  • Assessing the 115th Congress
  • Assessing the Trump Administration
  • The Political Landscape & the 2018 Election
  • The Future of Money in Politics

*Guest Speaker Topics tentative and subject to change

Professional Networking Events

In addition, three of the five class meetings will be immediately followed by professional networking events. Each professional networking event will host guest speakers from government, business, and non-profit sectors to share insights into program topics and current political events. These sessions are open to the JMU alumni community in Washington who work in government relations and legislative affairs and are intended to give program participants an opportunity to build relationships and hone their professional networking skills.

Meet the Instructor

Dr. Tim LaPira is an associate professor of political science at James Madison University, where he has taught since 2010. He previously taught at College of Charleston and American University. He earned his PhD in political science from Rutgers University in 2008. He also worked as a legislative assistant to a member of Congress and as a researcher for the Center for Responsive Politics, where he was responsible for creating the Lobbying and Revolving Door databases on

His academic expertise is on Congress, interest groups, lobbying, and the so-called revolving door between government and Washington's lobbying profession. His research includes publications on how government agendas affect interest group behavior and lobbying strategies, how lobbying transparency is flawed, how the distribution of lobbying resources is extremely unequal, and how the revolving door distorts the representation of interests before government. His research has been funded by The National Science Foundation, the Sunlight Foundation, the American Political Science Association, and the Dirksen Congressional Center. He teaches courses on American politics, Congress and legislative behavior, the Presidency and executive power, and interest groups and lobbying.

His book, Revolving Door Lobbying: Public Service, Private Interest, and the Unequal Representation of Interests (co-authored with Herschel F. Thomas, University of Texas at Arlington), should be published by the University Press of Kansas in early 2017. The book reports on original data on more than 1,600 lobbyists’ professional biographies, which we link to data from more than 50,000 lobbying disclosure reports. The book is the first to shed light on how common it is for people to move from government service to private sector lobbying, who does so, and why it matters for interest representation and legislative influence.


Program Admission Requirements: A four-year undergraduate degree or four years of full-time professional work experience is required to enroll in this program. By proceeding with registration, you are verifying that you meet the requirements of the program.

Register Online (Credit card only)

  • Payment is due at time of online registration and must be made by credit card (AMEX, MasterCard, Visa and Discover.) Credit card payments can only be accepted through online registration.

Print registration form (Check payment)

  • By Mail - Mail completed form with payment to address listed no later than two weeks prior to the registration deadline.
  • In-Person - You may register in-person. We are located on the 3rd floor at the JMU Ice House, 127 West Bruce St, Harrisonburg.

You will receive a registration confirmation via email once your registration has been processed.

Payment Options: Multiple payment options are available for this program including private student loan. Visit the payment options tab for more information.

Waitlist Option:  Space is limited and on a first-come basis. Once the program is full, you will have the option to be added to the waitlist and you will be notified if a space becomes available. Payment is due at time of registration.

Withdrawal/Refund Policy: You may cancel your registration and receive a refund minus a $25.00 administrative fee and any credit card processing fees up until two weeks prior to program start date. After that date, no refunds will be given. Cancellations must be received by email at

Questions about…
Registration  – Contact the JMU Professional Development Program Team at You may also contact the front office at 540/568.4253.
Program Content – Contact Dr. Timothy LaPira, Associate Professor of Political Science, at

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