Skip to main content

Apply by May 1 to become a Lead for NC Fellow





Lead for NC is a paid fellowship in local government for recent college graduates hosted by the UNC School of Governments. Fellows are placed in high-impact service locations where they will complete their service year working on transformative community projects. Fellows receive ongoing training and support from the UNC School of Government.

Lead for NC is actively creating the next generation of local government leaders while increasing the capacity of local governments across the state.

Through the Lead for NC program, fellows will gain a new perspective and appreciation of local government, understand the most pressing issues facing our communities, establish relationships with partner universities and organizations, and gain opportunities to engage with a growing alumni network of similarly minded individuals.

You might notice some of the host sites service description tend to focus on local government finance.

If you are not a “finance person” do not fret!

Local governments have just received an unprecedented amount of federal funding (you might notice ARP in the service scopes below – learn more about the ARP here). This level of investment has not been seen since the Great Depression!

A lot of local governments need help navigating spending this money in a strategic way that ensures compliance while promoting a long-term strategic vision for the community.

Here are some reasons why we think you should consider a career in local government finance…

  •    Variety of work: Local government finance is a multifaceted field that involves policy making, financial management, budgeting, forecasting, financial reporting, and compliance. There is always something new to learn, and every day presents new challenges.
  •   Job stability: Local government finance is a stable career path with a high demand for professionals. The government will always need people to manage finances, no matter the economic situation. If you’re looking for stability and a quick path to leadership – local government finance is the way to go!
  •    Opportunity for growth: Local government finance offers opportunities for growth, development, and advancement. You can start as a budget analyst and work your way up to a finance director or even a city manager in a relatively short amount of time! Want to pivot sectors? The skillset you develop in local government finance will demand respect across sectors.
  •   Social impact: Working in local government finance provides you with an opportunity to make a positive impact on your community. Your work helps to allocate resources to provide essential services such as healthcare, environmental resiliency, public safety, and education.

Meet the Host Governments for our 2023-2024 Cohort and the proposed work scope! Please note, the work scope may change based off the candidate’s strengths and the needs of the jurisdiction.

Interactive Link to Host Sites and Service Descriptions

This placement site offers a unique opportunity to dive into the world of compliance regulations and financial auditing. One of the major projects will involve monitoring the compliance of ongoing water and sewer capital projects, ensuring state and federal requirements are met. Additionally, you’ll assist in the preparation of financial documents for the annual audit and get hands-on experience using newly purchased financial software. This role offers a great opportunity to learn valuable skills in compliance and finance, while contributing to a team dedicated to making a positive impact in the community.

Learn more about Angier here:

The Lead for NC Fellow will become a critical member of our Specialized Recreation and Inclusion programs. In this role, you’ll have the opportunity to grow and diversify our Specialized Recreation Program offerings, while gaining practical experience with programming and applying participant modifications. You’ll further your awareness of working with individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities through participant interaction, and have the chance to review and update current policies and procedures.

Your primary responsibilities will include developing, promoting, and supervising Specialized Recreation programs, evaluating their success, and facilitating and monitoring volunteers. You’ll also streamline the inclusion process for all Parks and Rec accommodations, including medical support, within all program areas. Additionally, you’ll assist with inclusion and medical support intake, accommodation/medical plans, implementation, and follow-up. Finally, you’ll research trends and department deficiencies within inclusion and medical support to help bridge the gap from where we are to where we want to be. This is a great opportunity to make a positive impact in the community, while gaining valuable skills and experience in the field of Specialized Recreation and Inclusion programs.

Learn more about Apex here:

As the Lead for NC Fellow, you’ll work with the County of Bladen, assisting with a variety of financial needs, including completing the requirements to obtain the Annual Comprehensive Financial Report (ACFR), American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) reporting, and researching potential revenues within various departments.

In this role, you’ll also have the chance to assist with departmental budgets and preparation of the annual budget, while gaining hands-on experience in grant balancing and reporting. Additionally, you’ll work closely with the Finance Office to address any findings within the Annual Audit. This is a unique opportunity to build a strong foundation in finance while working with a supportive team dedicated to making a positive impact in the community.

Learn more about Bladen County here:

As the Lead for NC Fellow, you’ll have the opportunity to work on exciting projects that directly impact our organization and community. As a Fellow, you’ll be involved in a variety of developmental-level professional administrative work, research, and analysis. The proposed projects include continuing our efforts to find solutions for homelessness and racial equity, developing our apprentice program, and conducting research on economic development policies and impact analysis. This is a highly visible role where you can make a real difference in our community.

Learn more about Buncombe County here:

We’re seeking a recent college graduate for a unique opportunity to work with the Town of Cape Carteret and gain experience in all aspects of town management. You’ll have the chance to work on a variety of projects, including administration of the Town’s zoning program, improvements to financial and performance reporting, and assisting with capital projects such as stormwater improvements and park development. You’ll also work on implementing new technology to improve customer experiences and engage with residents and property owners. This is a great opportunity to make a difference in the community and gain valuable skills for your future career.

Learn more about Cape Carteret here:

The Lead for NC Fellow will complete their service year working in the following three areas. One of these areas is homelessness, where the fellow will be tasked with researching, analyzing and exploring options to address the issue in Cary. The work will involve understanding the root causes of homelessness in the town and developing innovative solutions through collaborative efforts with government agencies, nonprofits, community organizations and regional partners. The fellow will also measure the impact of interventions, raise public awareness about homelessness and advocate for policies that support the town’s goals. In addition to this, the town is also looking for a fellow to assist the Cary Police Department with project management processes, grant writing and the development of a real-time information center. Finally, the fellow may work on sustainability/environmental initiatives such as finalizing plans, implementing strategic communications, collaborating with local institutions, and assisting with feasibility studies. This fellowship will provide a valuable learning experience for the individual while also contributing significantly to the town’s efforts in these areas.

Learn more about Cary here:

The Lead for NC Fellow in Catawba County will have an opportunity to work with the County to update its Strategic Plan. The fellow will be responsible for tracking the efforts towards completion of the plan and developing internal/external communications. They will also be responsible for investigating ARP eligible projects, assisting with the annual budget process, and evaluating existing/new/future County programs in their specific areas of interest. Additionally, the Fellow will assist the manager’s office in making funding decisions around Opioid Settlement Funding, which will have a direct impact on the community that far outlives the fellowship.

Learn more about Catawba County here: 

The Lead for NC Fellow at Centralina Regional Council will be a part of Centralina’s Government Affairs and Member Engagement (GAME) team, working alongside seasoned professionals and young leaders in the organization. They will be responsible for coordinating and completing organization-wide performance reports for Centralina’s ARPA and resilience contract services, Strategic Plan KPIs, and workplan implementation. In addition to managing the data, the Fellow will be asked to create narrative reports and success stories for our external communications. They will also be assigned to be a part of a project team for a current Centralina technical assistance project, examples of which include local government strategic plans, Board facilitation, HR recruitment projects, hiring/promotional assessment centers. The Fellow will manage logistics for our monthly regional managers group, monthly Centralina Learns training series, small towns working group, and women in local government convening. They will also support Centralina’s legislative agenda by tracking specific pieces of legislation at the state level and communicating the impact of legislation to member governments.

Learn more about Centralina Regional COG here:

The Lead for NC Fellow in Chadbourn will work with the current finance officer on strategic budgeting, cost containment, cash flow management, debt management, and accurate record keeping. They will reflect on areas where employees can benefit from additional support, identify achievable objectives, and share objectives with the other members of the town. The Fellow will track internal performance and improvements, gather accurate and reliable financial data, monitor spending continuously, and implement procedures that are easy to follow. They will stay on top of changes to local government requirements and be part of a bigger team with other local towns and county. This is an excellent opportunity for someone just starting their career or a recent college graduate who is committed to helping this town achieve its goals.

Learn more about Chadbourn here: 

The Lead for NC Fellow in Chatham County’s Department of Social Services will have the opportunity to assist/lead with two proposed housing-related projects in collaboration with the DSS Director, Emergency Housing Coordinator, and others within county government. The first project involves developing a landlord engagement program (in collaboration with community non-profits) to increase the number of landlords who provide affordable housing. The Fellow will evaluate the number of rental units available in the county, meet with non-profits providing housing and economic supports, research effective planning for landlord engagement and developing a strategy, conduct focus groups and/or community outreach, establish a communications plan and identify long-term strategies for ongoing sustainability. The second project involves researching and identifying software that can allow for data collection, information sharing, and reporting across agencies serving individuals experiencing homelessness or are at risk of homelessness.

Learn more about Chatham County here:

As the Lead for NC Fellow, you’ll have the exciting opportunity to analyze and optimize business processes for maximum efficiency, emphasizing internal controls and fixed asset policies. As we look to grow our County, we need to establish leaner processing methods to keep up with the demand. You’ll also get to research and improve policies and procedures related to new GASB standards, using your expertise and professional opinion to ensure our success. This is a chance to make a real impact and be a key player in our County’s growth and success!

Learn more about Columbus County here:

We’re looking for someone who is passionate about community development and is ready to make a real impact on our town. As a Lead for NC Fellow, you’ll be responsible for a variety of exciting tasks, including implementing the “Action Items” in the town’s Highway 301 Plan, contacting property owners of vacant and dilapidated properties in town to find buyers who will rehabilitate the structures, and identifying grant opportunities to support our revitalization efforts. You’ll work collaboratively with various departments and community-based organizations to develop and implement processes to acquire vacant properties and upgrade our electric distribution system. Your work will have a direct impact on our town’s economic development and quality of life for our citizens. We’re seeking a driven individual who is excited about tackling the challenges facing small towns and ready to help us bring Enfield back to life.

Learn more about Enfield here:

Are you passionate about community development and helping those in need? As a Lead for NC Fellow, you’ll have the exciting opportunity to support a number of important initiatives, including providing housing for low-income and homeless individuals through HUD and American Rescue Plan Funding. You’ll learn firsthand about Community Development by working alongside the Director and assisting with HUD programs. You’ll also have the chance to work directly with the Mayor’s and Manager’s office on developing an urban revitalization strategy, as well as assisting in community relations. This is a unique opportunity to get hands-on experience and learn from industry professionals. Don’t miss out on this exciting opportunity to make a difference and further your career in community development!

Learn more about Goldsboro here:

As a Lead for NC Fellow with the City of Greenville and Pitt County, you will have the opportunity to make a real impact in our community by developing plans and programs in the area of sustainability. Your work will help to create a more sustainable future for our city and its residents.

Additionally, you’ll have the chance to contribute to initiatives that support the homeless community. Your research and assistance in this area will help to improve the lives of those in need and create a more compassionate community.

Learn more about Greenville and Pitt County here:

The Town of Hillsborough needs your help to address the challenges created by significant growth over the past eight years. As a Lead for NC Fellow, you will have the opportunity to assist the finance director and staff in developing and implementing policies, practices, and programs to improve departmental efficiency, accuracy, reliability, communications, and resiliency. You will also have the chance to work on important initiatives, such as grant tracking, monitoring, reporting, and applications, building a capital projects dashboard/map on our website or OpenGov budget software, and exploring best options for reporting features in OpenGov.

In addition, you will work with the Budget Division and Financial Services Department to manage over $2.0 million in unspent American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funds, recent awards of about $8.0 million in Building Resilient Infrastructure & Communities (BRIC) for water and sewer projects, an $8.0 million grant for a train station, and even more grant funding that is anticipated.

Your contributions will help us maintain our financial condition, plan for the future, and prioritize capital projects, such as $70+ million in water, sewer, parks, connectivity, and facility projects over the next seven years. You will also have the chance to assist with the annual budget, three-year financial plan, CIP, and strategic planning processes, as well as help other departments across the organization with tasks, priorities, and projects.

Learn more about Hillsborough here: 

The Lead for NC Fellow will serve in the Hyde County Manager’s Office, focusing on finance, grant administration, and planning. The Fellow will take a lead role in administering the Urgent Repair Program of the NC Housing Finance Agency, which provides housing repairs to low-income, elderly, and disabled citizens. This project involves grant administration, working with clients through the application, selection, and construction phases. The Fellow will also support Hyde County’s housing and community development projects, including state and federal grant administration. Additionally, the Fellow will take a major lead in the Ocracoke Island Planning Board and the Ocracoke Waterways Commission, where they will gain diverse perspectives and work on real coastal Carolina land use issues. The fellow will be challenged and supported through their work and assignments, and the experience will be tailored to meet their interests and future goals.

Learn more Hyde County here:

The Lead for NC Fellow will play a vital role in implementing an Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) system that will span multiple departments within the City of Jacksonville. This presents an excellent opportunity for someone interested in a Finance track with Local Government, as the ERP system involves extensive finance involvement. The Fellow will receive support from City Management to Director level, as well as from the Chief Information Officer and ERP project team throughout the project. Additionally, the Fellow may have the chance to manage various grants within the organization, including those funded by ARPA funding. Working closely with the Senior Grants Administrator and Finance Director, the Fellow will gain experience and exposure to finance-specific projects. The depth of experience and opportunities available to the Fellow will depend on their ability to complete projects and take on additional assignments across the organization. This position offers an excellent chance for the Fellow to make a strategic and transformational impact on the City of Jacksonville.

Learn more about Jacksonville here:

Kannapolis is seeking a talented Lead for NC Fellow to join our Finance team and help us streamline our processes and systems. You will have the opportunity to work on a variety of projects, including implementing new internal controls, reviewing our general ledger, and developing performance indicators that tie financial and non-financial measures together across the organization. You will also have the chance to work on grants processes and procedures, including grant writing, which will involve collaborating with several departments. In addition, you will have the opportunity to spearhead process changes by examining our documentation filing, workflows, operations, etc. and ensuring they align with best practices. If you are passionate about finance and want to work on modernizing processes and identifying new trends for our department, then this is the perfect opportunity for you!

Learn more about Kannapolis here:

Kinston is seeking a talented and passionate individual to lead our affordable housing project. As the Lead for NC Fellow, you will work closely with the community to understand their needs and identify areas for improvement. This includes developing a comprehensive plan to attract developers and improve the quality of life for our citizens. In addition, you will oversee the development of minimum commercial requirements for vacant downtown buildings to enhance our city’s appearance and reputation. The project is an exciting opportunity to make a positive impact on our community and we are looking for someone who is committed to driving change and improving our city’s future.

Learn more about Kinston here: 

As the Lead for NC Fellow, you will provide assistance to Western North Carolina residents who need affordable home internet service, internet-capable devices, and introductory digital skills coaching to become effective home internet users. Your service is part of the Land of Sky WestNGN initiative to support broadband infrastructure, adoption, device access, and technology skills to residents in need across Buncombe, Henderson, Transylvania, and Madison counties. The Lead for NC Fellow will market and host events to engage in Affordable Connectivity Program Sign-ups, create a digital inclusion resource guide for Western North Carolina, and coordinate or create digital skills curriculum based on identified regional priorities of skills and populations. You will also support services to FCC mapping challenges, engage in grant writing to grow capacity in Western North Carolina, update data and information in the Land of Sky Regional Digital Inclusion Plan, and track each client’s progress and types of requests.

Learn more about Land of Sky Regional Council of Government here:

Lee County is seeking a talented Lead for NC Fellow to develop and lead our grant administration program, empowering departments across the organization to seek and apply for grants while providing essential guidance, compliance, and reporting assistance. With your help, we’ll be able to maximize the impact of funding across multiple departments, ensuring that resources are readily available to support critical functions and unexpected absences. You’ll also have the opportunity to develop a comprehensive training program for new finance employees in other departments, ensuring consistent standards and financial software expertise across the organization. Come join us in designing and implementing improvements that will transform our finance functions and help us achieve our mission!

Learn more about Lee County here:

The City of Lowell is looking for a Lead for NC Fellow who will lead the transformation of the finance department into a 21st-century powerhouse with a focus on transparency and technological efficiency. The fellow will work on various exciting projects, including creating a Community Investment Fund, developing a transparent budget process with community engagement, and working on a financing strategy for the I-85 corridor betterment. We also are excited to have our Lead for NC Fellow play a crucial role in spending the remaining ARP funds. With new eyes comes new insight, and we look forward to welcoming more projects from the fellow.

Learn more about Lowell here: 

The City of Marion is seeking a highly motivated and driven individual to join their team as the Lead for NC Fellow! You will have the opportunity to work on a variety of impactful projects that will contribute to the growth and development of the city. You will be involved in major projects such as the renovation of a historic bank building into the new City Hall, the clean-up of a once-abandoned manufacturing site, the sewer rehabilitation project, the administration of several grants, including ARPA funding.

Not only will you be involved in these exciting projects, but you will also have the opportunity to work on policy research, evaluating and updating finance policies, procedures, and citizen connectivity, and assisting in the completion of a comprehensive water and sewer fee study.

Learn more about Marion here:

The North Carolina League of Municipalities seeks two Lead for NC Fellows to serve as ARP Field Representatives. These positions will provide technical assistance to elected officials and member municipalities regarding the American Rescue Plan. Fellows will develop relationships with local officials, provide training and guidance, and communicate with local elected officials about their role in overseeing ARP funding decisions. Candidates will identify emerging trends and best practices related to ARP service delivery to local government municipalities across the state.

Learn more about the NC League of Municipalities here:

Join the North Wilkesboro team as a Lead for NC fellow and help North Wilkesboro shape the financial future of our town! You will be at the forefront of developing a capital improvement plan for our town and assisting in the creation of a succession plan. You will have the opportunity to work closely with our current finance officer and Davenport Public Finance, while being the primary liaison in gathering necessary information. This is a unique opportunity to gain real-world experience while making a positive impact on your community’s financial well-being.

Learn more about North Wilkesboro here:

As the Lead for NC Fellow, you will have the opportunity to work on a variety of exciting and impactful projects, ranging from infrastructure development to historic preservation. You will play a critical role in the planning and coordination of the Harbor Town Ferry system, working with a team of professionals to ensure the successful launch and operation of the first high-speed ferry system on the Albemarle Sound. In addition, you will have the opportunity to work on the Downtown Streetscape construction project, helping to revise plans and solicit contractor bids to transform the town’s sidewalks and streets. You will also assist in the preservation of the historic Picot-Armistead-Pettiford House, designated as a National Underground Railroad site, and work to update the town’s code of ordinances. This is an exciting and dynamic role that offers the opportunity to make a meaningful impact in the Plymouth community.

Learn more about Plymouth here:

The Town of Ranlo is looking for a Lead for NC Fellow to join their team! You will have a major role in assisting the Town in meeting requirements of the State Treasurer’s Office Unit Assistance List (a watchlist of some of the most financially distressed communities in NC) and working on implementing strategies towards the removal of the Town from the list. You will gain valuable experience and knowledge working with municipal finance, including accounts payable, reconciliations, and other general finance-related matters. Join our team and make a significant impact in the Town’s financial health!

Learn more about Ranlo here:

The Town of Red Springs is looking for a talented and ambitious Lead for NC to join our Finance Department. As a Fellow, you will gain invaluable hands-on experience with grant management, payroll management, budget management, and more. You will work alongside our experienced team to manage the GL, create debt schedules, and assist with Board presentations. With the opportunity to get exposure to all areas of the Town, including our Enterprise functions, this is an exciting chance to jumpstart your career!

Learn more about Red Springs here:

Rockingham County is seeking a dynamic individual to serve as the Lead for NC Fellow to help us achieve our strategic goals. You will work to maintain and improve the performance measurement program, and find new ways to align it with our strategic focus. Additionally, you will have the opportunity to engage with the community by developing innovative ways to gather feedback during the budget process. Finally, you will play a critical role in improving transparency and communication by re-establishing our “State of the County” publication.

Learn more about Rockingham County here:

The Southwestern Commission is seeking a Lead for NC Fellow to assist with project management for various projects in the coming year. This includes managing the Regional Resilience Planning effort, working with a consultant and stakeholders to ensure successful project completion.

The Fellow would also assist with project development efforts, including public engagement and planning processes for communities, with a focus on topics such as recreation, land use planning, and digital inclusion.  Another potential project would be assisting with the Mountain West Partnership, a regional economic development partnership that provides assistance to counties in the region and markets the Mountain West region outside of Western North Carolina.

Learn more about Southwest Commission COG here:

The Town of Spencer is on the lookout for a Lead for NC Fellow to manage exciting upcoming projects such as neighborhood revitalization, park and trail improvements, stormwater upgrades, and replacement of town equipment. This role will include developing and updating important policy areas such as purchasing, internal control, travel, grants, and more, and working on broader categories such as safety, continuity of operations, and small town CIP/budget best practices. Additionally, the Fellow will be involved in monthly financial budget and salary reviews, researching, editing, and writing policy, and working with staff to implement changes. The Lead for NC Fellow will also administer $750,000 of neighborhood revitalization funding.

Learn more about Spencer here:

The Town of Topsail Beach is seeking a Lead for NC Fellow to work on an exciting project to develop an Emergency Operations Manual. This project will involve collaborating with the Town Manager to develop a manual outlining procedures for responding to emergencies such as hurricanes, floods, tornadoes, hazardous spills, and active shooter situations.

As a LFNC Fellow, you will have the opportunity to work closely with Topsail Beach department heads and staff from surrounding municipalities to coordinate emergency response efforts. By working on this project, you’ll gain valuable experience in emergency management and public safety, while also building your skills in collaboration, project management, and problem-solving.

Learn more about Topsail Beach here:

Triangle J Council of Governments is supporting the Town of Micro in Johnston County with a number of administrative needs. These include town clerk and finance services. The Town has recently been placed under a Fiscal Accountability Agreement with the Local Government Commission. A fellow would have the unique opportunity to work with TJCOG staff and a very cooperative and dedicated new set of elected officials to rebuild the town’s finance system, budget and financial policies. The Lead for NC Fellow will work with Board members and staff to help a small community work through items needed to improve their financial direction, while receiving support from the professional staff at Triangle J COG! 

Learn more about Triangle J COG here:

Wendell is seeking a Lead for NCFellow to join our team to advance our Strategic Plan initiatives. Your service will advance several exciting projects such as the issuance of the first bond debt for the jurisdiction focused on parks and recreation projects and transportation projects. You will also assist in the implementation of a new customer relations management (CRM) system in coordination with the rollout of a new Town website. Additionally, you will work on improving our project management system to better manage our busy project workload in a relatively small municipal organization. You will also have varied assignments to assist with establishing housing, open space preservation, and historic preservation programs.

Learn more about Wendell here:

Interactive Link to Host Sites and Service Descriptions