FEI Handbook and Leadership for a Democratic Society Information


FEI History

Federal Executive Institute - Main Building

The Federal Executive Institute (FEI) was established by Executive Order of President Lyndon B. Johnson in October 1968. John Macy was then Chairman of the US Civil Service Commission. On October 13, 1968, the first class of 50 senior federal executives began. Over the course of its history, FEI’s core Leadership for a Democratic Society program remains the Institute’s foundational program upon which leaders transform government—one life at a time. Nestled in the Blue Ridge Mountains and located in Charlottesville, VA, provides a setting close to our nation’s capital yet distant enough to ensure an environment that would enable executives to leave their official duties behind and engage in the study and reflection essential in executive education.  

Facility History 

Back of Main Building

Originally the Thomas Jefferson Inn, the building was the first and finest luxury hotel in Charlottesville when it opened in 1951, and the only one with a swimming pool, built at the request of Elizabeth Taylor (or so the legend goes). Some of the well-known people who stayed here in the early years were President Harry Truman, Mrs. Eleanor Roosevelt, George Stevenson (director of the movie Giant), Rock Hudson, and Elizabeth Taylor. Ms. Taylor stayed in Room 212—now the Director’s Office and others of the cast and crew stayed at the Inn while shooting some of the scenes for the movie. The filming moved on to Texas, but the big champagne party at the movie’s end was held right here on the campus. The Thomas Jefferson Inn was a favorite for social events in the mid-1950s. The lobby was the scene of many large weddings where the brides descended the broad staircase, and the receptions that followed were the subject of conversations for weeks. FEI’s main building and Pendleton Hall are original to the site. The John Macy Wing was added in 1989, and Gwin Hall was opened in 1998. The Winner Garden, an outdoor space for conversation, introspection and study, was dedicated to the memory of a beloved faculty member in 2006.

Updated April 2020