The Cooper Center serves localities in the Commonwealth in the context of a complex 21st century in which civic challenges are interconnected and problem-solving requires engaged communities and collaboration across traditional boundaries. In this new context, the Center is reimagining public service to ensure our work is impact-driven and focused on the needs of the diverse communities in Virginia; inclusive of leaders at all levels and of individuals with differing perspectives and from varied backgrounds. 

View Our Strategic Plan

The Weldon Cooper Center is comprised of five teams and delivers its public service mission through three broad areas of work: applied research, leadership development, and local government support and engagement. 

Cooper Center professionals embrace mission and impact-driven service to individuals, organizations, governmental bodies, and communities who seek to serve the public good. We conduct advanced and applied research in collaboration with clients so they may make a difference in governance and community life. We offer training programs and expert assistance to public leaders as well as skill development for political leaders who seek to work cooperatively with others. We engage with local governments and partner with organizations across the Commonwealth to help build the capacity of our communities. 

Through these five teams, the Weldon Cooper Center carries out its mission of public service to the Commonwealth: 

Applied Research

We conduct top quality research, independently and under contract, on a range of topics in the public interest.

Leadership Development

Our leadership programs provide participants the tools to better serve their organizations and communities.

Government Support

Town Manager James Ervin talks about how VIG helped his community address a challenging situation.



Our mission is to deliver public impact research and leadership development to build the capacity of Virginia’s communities and organizations to serve the Commonwealth. 


Good governance, equity, and resilience in every Virginia community

  • Access 
  • Collaboration
  • Communities 
  • Impact 


Tracing its history back as far as 1931, today’s Weldon Cooper Center for Public Service weaves together several threads of services provided over the past eighty years, under the names of various bureaus and institutes, to local and state government officials and citizens of the Commonwealth. These threads came together in 1987 as the University of Virginia’s Center for Public Service, which was later named in 1994 after Weldon Cooper.