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About Us

Opening the Doors of Government to Everyone

Applications TBA
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The Commonwealth Seminar is a privately funded program with the mission of: "Opening the Doors of Government to Everyone". It is an intensive training program focused on teaching diverse leaders how the legislative process really works. 

Top legislators, legislative staff, media members, and policymakers introduce seminar participants to the legislative and budget processes, lobbying & advocacy, working with the press/media, and thinking critically about policy issues. 

By giving an insiders' view of the process, our goal is to encourage diverse leaders to become effective advocates and to pursue careers in public service.

Three times a year, the Seminar hosts an intensive training program in & around the MA State House that invites community leaders to learn to navigate the legislative and state budget process. 


The training program lasts six weeks and participants spend one evening a week in interactive seminars with Administration officials, legislators, legislative aides, media personalities, and lobbyists.  The program is intended for leaders from under-serviced communities, New Americans & immigrants, communities of color, and others who are directly working with those communities. 


On a regular basis, the Seminar invites members of its leadership network to events designed to let them meet and know key policymakers in Massachusetts.  Past speakers include: Suffolk County Sheriff Steve Tompkins, Boston City Councilor Michelle Wu, State Representative Russell Holmes, State Senator Sonia Chang-Diaz, Former Director of Boston’s Mayor’s Office for Immigrant Advancement Alejandra St. Guillen, Boston City Councilor Lydia Edwards, Boston Globe Columnist Shirley Leung, Boston City Councilor Annissa Essaibi George, and Former Governor Massachusetts Governor  Deval Patrick.

The Commonwealth Seminar is fiscally sponsored by Third Sector New England, Inc. (TSNE).


The Seminar was founded in 2003 by visionaries Joel Barrera and Former MA State Senator Jarrett Barrios as a way to invite diverse leaders into the State House to demystify the legislative process and encourage deeper, more sustained, advocacy on Beacon Hill. The goal was simple: open the doors of the government to diverse communities.

We began as a simple skills development training program, but our work is now geared toward weaving together relationships across boundaries of race, ethnicity, partisan politics, and local governments. We seek to become a neutral ground where diverse leaders can prepare themselves, build relationships and create a community that values public service.


Our Students Learn the Essentials About​​

  • The Legislative Process

  • The Budgetary Process

  • Working with the Press/Media

  • ​Lobbying & Advocacy

  • ​Working With, In & Around Government

  • Working with Government Agencies

  • Working with Non-Profit Agencies & Organizations

  • ​Planning and Civic Engagement​

  • Working with Legislative Staff and Legislators

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