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Lead for North Carolina 2020 Fellowship Registration

The following are the confirmed governments and fellows for LFNC Cohort Two 

  1. Ahoskie – Jena Phillips The fellow will work on four types of projects: short term projects they will see to completion, policy development, long term on-going projects and day-to-day work activities that will give the fellow an understanding on how all the pieces of local government work. The LFNC Fellow in Ahoskie will work on the following longterm projects: revitalizing downtown and developing an industrial park. The short term projects include: research, purchase and implement an electronic time clock system that integrate with the town’s payroll services and making a paperless work-order system. The fellow will also provide research on outsourcing versus in house various governmental functions. The fellow will also provide essential research on how to implement bonuses for municipal employees without overwhelming the budget.
  2. Apex – Val MeraApex has adopted a clean energy resolution to achieve 100 percent clean energy by 2050. The town is looking to commit resources to expand initiatives and programs to continue its commitment to sustainability and protecting our environment. Support from a LFNC Fellow would provide the town additional capacity in its sustainability efforts while providing the fellow with valuable experience in an increasingly important field and exposure to local government. This position will assist in planning, organizing, and facilitating the implementation of town sustainability initiatives while also providing community outreach, research, and analytical support for sustainability programs. The LFNC Fellow would support the town’s Sustainability Program Coordinator specifically in the following areas: coordinating energy reduction efforts carried out by the town, assisting in preparing and presenting reports on the town’s sustainability efforts, assisting in researching and preparing applications for grant funding for new initiatives and programs, and updating outreach materials used for sustainability education in the community.
  3. Burlington – Louisa SholarThe Burlington Police Department (BPD) is a progressive twenty-first-century law enforcement agency that is nationally recognized for its professionalism and community-centered culture. While being a leader in the field, the agency is not immune to challenges that face others in the law enforcement arena. The BPD has worked hard and developed a commitment to focusing on bringing a varied workforce together that reflects the community we serve. The selected fellow will be assigned to the Evidence Control Unit (ECU) of the Burlington Police Department. ECU is responsible for the intake, storage, and disposition of evidence and found property, including weapons, controlled substances, cash, paraphernalia, vehicles, and other personal property. The fellow will work alongside evidence technicians, crime scene investigators, and case detectives to learn about the system, processes, and procedures of ECU. After familiarization and training, the fellow will assist with the triage of DNA evidence before laboratory analysis, update policies and procedures, and analyze the ECU system to make recommendations to improve efficiencies and reduce errors. While being a mix-of “hands-on” and “research” learning, we anticipate both short-term and long-term goals. These include the understanding of the current processes and cultures to analyzing organizational needs and how they could affect a properly functioning evidence program.
  4. Guilford County: Register of Deeds – Carly Malcolm The Guilford County Register of Deeds has been a trendsetting organization. Our core services include accessibility and availability of land records, birth, death and marriage licenses, and military discharges. The LFNC Fellow will work on the following sample projects in community innovators lab, “CoLab,” on the following projects: (1) Slave deeds – indexing 500 bills of sale of enslaved people in Guilford County and partnering with the NC A&T History Department to scan and index original research, (2) End of Life – creating a county run webpage of community resources to help residents deal with end of life issues, and (3) Thank a Vet – building the Thank a Vet program within Guilford County. The LFNC Fellow in the ROD Co-Lab would like to employ an LFNC Fellow to help fully establish the Co-Lab concept, support initiatives and increase overall organizational capacity. This would include strategy, brand development and social media presence of Co-Lab.
  5. Martin County– Elizabeth Mitchell Martin County’s LFNC Fellow will work on grant-writing. The fellow would begin with a listening tour meeting department leaders, identifying unmet community needs, collecting public input, and shadowing the County Manager. If fellows are interested in law enforcement, social work, GIS, public health, etc., they would spend a majority of their time working on projects associated with their personal interest. Fellows would then create a project scope uniquely tailored to specific department / community needs to have an immediate impact in a given issue area, while increasing capacity in Martin County.
  6. The Mid-East Commission– Taylor Norton The Mid-East Commission serves the counties of Beaufort, Bertie, Hertford, Martin, and Pitt as well as local municipalities. The Mid-East Commission LFNC Fellow will work with the disaster recovery specialist on efforts ranging from updating emergency operations plans, to seeking out and applying for grant opportunities that assist in recovery initiatives. The fellow would also work with the planning department on comprehensive planning efforts and recreation plans. The fellow will be involved in ongoing economic development projects and would help secure future grants and work with state and federal agencies to enhance the ability of local governments to successfully improve the quality of life for area citizens.
  7. Pollocksville – Nate Polo Pollocksville needs a fellow with high resiliency and technical skills to help this small town recover after suffering major devastation by Hurricane Florence. With only part-time staff and a plethora of challenges, Pollocksville needs assistance in coordinating and support recovery efforts while providing vision for new ways to reimagine Pollocksville after significant loss from the flood. The LFNC Fellow will work with engineers and architects to restore the flooded Town Hall, work with FEMA representatives on projects that have not closed, secure funds through GLF and NCORR, replace the sewer lagoon, assist in implementation of PARTF grant, review and rewrite the zoning ordinances, and work on the economic development / beautification along Main Street.
  8. Pembroke – Valerie KeysThe Town of Pembroke is seeking an energetic and highly motivated fellow to assist with a variety of important endeavors, including assistance with on-going downtown revitalization projects (such as the Town’s streetscape and city center storefront renovation projects) and on-going Hurricane Matthew / Florence recovery efforts. The fellowship will afford an opportunity to develop skills and knowledge in project management and economic development in addition to a general exposure to the primary functions of city government. The selected fellow will also serve in an Assistant to the Town Manager capacity, assisting with the day-to-day operational needs of the Town.  Other administrative projects may include the evaluation and improvement of the Town’s solid waste billing structure and an inventory of vacant residential / commercial structures in Town.
  9. Rockingham County – Nina WorthThe fellow will assist the County’s external communication efforts, create and administer employee satisfaction surveys, undertake a policy consolidation project to increase transparency in the local government, assist with the annual budge preparation and performance management by meeting with departments to evaluate performance goals and make recommendations on areas of improvement, and work with various county departments to evaluate processes and make recommendations. The fellow’s work project will also be tailored to meet the interests of the fellow.
  10. Rutherfordton – Magnolia LongThe LFNC Fellow will work on the following projects: implementing the Downtown Business Development plan, coordinating the Town’s comprehensive master plan, working with Spindale (LFNC Fellow Walker Harrison) and Rutherford County on the thermal belt rail trail development, assisting with the NC Main Street Program, and working on a team to rethink community outreach.
  11. Shelby– Shelby HolmesThe LFNC Fellow will work on three projects: (1) a recent report shows a serious crisis for housing at all income levels, the fellow will work on the development of a comprehensive set of policies that will provide incentives to the housing development industry to construct residential units, (2) assistance with development of a USDOT BUILD grant for construction of a 12 mile trail trail that will provide connectivity between neighborhoods, schools, commercial areas, and rural communities, (3) assistance with the development of a public art plant that will focus on the Uptown Main Street Development.
  12. Wilkesboro– David SimmonsLong term projects include: (1) facilitation with creation and implementation of a Unified Development Ordinance, (2) centralizing, organizing, and digitizing the Town’s departmental safety policies and procedures, (3) participating in the design of a major inclusive playground design, (4) participating in “Phase 2” design, funding and research of the Town’s downtown revitalization, (5) assisting with the Tourism Development Authority is the areas of research and presentation of findings, and (6) formalizing a new employee “On-Boarding” program.

Lead for North Carolina (LFNC) is the pilot state affiliate program of Lead for America. It is being run by the UNC Chapel Hill School of Government (SOG), in partnership with the NC City and County Managers Association (NCCCMA), NC League of Municipalities (NCLM), and NC Association of County Commissioners (NCACC).

The goal of LFNC is to implement a fellowship program for recent college graduates that:

  1. Provides added capacity to economically distressed local governments across the state that have difficulty attracting and retaining talented young employees;
  2. Serves as a bridge between local governments (specifically in economically depressed communities or communities with special needs) and the School of Government and professional associations;
  3. Increases the diversity within local governments to better reflect the diversity of the communities they serve;
  4. Creates a pipeline to MPA and other graduate programs in NC;
  5. Fosters the development of young talent in local governments across NC, particularly in areas that have historically (or are projected to have) a difficult time attracting and retaining sufficient talent; and
  6. Promotes a greater sense of civic responsibility and encourages fellows to leave the fellowship with a deeper appreciation and dedication to their personal communities and our civic institutions.

Through the LFNC 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.

Once we have a firm commitment from our host local governments, we will actively recruit for a pool of fellows who have strong connections to the regions in which the local governments are located. LFNC has partnered with LFA to engage in a robust fellow recruitment process on college campuses across the state. Fellows engage in a detailed and rigorous screening process to ensure a final pool of high-quality applicants who have a demonstrated commitment to public service, a strong interest in the local government profession, and a record of exemplary personal character. LFNC focuses on recruiting public service–minded individuals from North Carolina’s public and private colleges who desire to return to their home region to serve.

Managers or hiring directors from each host jurisdiction will be invited to interview a select pool of fellows with strong connections to the region in which the local government is located. That interview process will take place on April 23 & 24, 2020, at the SOG. Employment contracts with selected fellows must be finalized by May 15, 2020. Fellow candidates will have the opportunity to say “yes” or “no” to each government that offers them an interview or a position.

Fellows will receive training from the SOG, and fellows and host local governments will receive support throughout the fellowship from the SOG, as well as our partner organizations, the NCLM, the NCCCMA, and the NCACC. Specifically, fellows will participate in approximately three weeks of graduate-level training from the SOG. Fellows will build on leadership, communication, and presentation skills, while also gaining new skills and knowledge in areas like economic development, emergency management, capital finance, and budgeting. The training will require fellows to participate in case studies, group presentations, and produce memos for evaluation from School faculty.

We often look for opportunities to engage the fellow’s supervisor and colleagues in our training model. For example, local government employees were invited to Cohort 1’s Summer Academy for a one-day grant writing workshop. In the winter training for Cohort 1, local government employees will be invited with their fellows to an equity and inclusion workshop. LFNC seeks out opportunities to train fellows and opportunities to engage their supervisors and colleagues. Additionally, fellows will participate in monthly zoom calls throughout the fellowship, each focused on a different topic related to working in local government. And fellows will participate in weekend intensive advanced training on a pertinent topic sometime around the 6-month mark of the fellowship. The fellow’s participation in the Summer Academy, the Changemaker Summit, and all subsequent training is required as part of the program. Absences are not permitted.

Each host local government will commit to the following:

  • Enter into a single-year employment contract with each fellow. (The contract will be a 12-month fixed-term employment agreement.)
  • Amend the local government’s personnel policy to create a new class of employee – Temporary Exempt One-year Fellowship. Set the compensation and benefits for that class of employee as per below.
    • Compensation
      • Direct Compensation to Fellow:                       $28,000
      • Employment Taxes (Estimated 7.5%)              $  2,100
      • Approximate Total:     $30,100*
    • Other Benefits
      • Each fellow will be paid for time off for all state/national holidays observed by the local government. Additionally, each fellow will be afforded 3 days of paid time off.
      • Fellows are eligible to earn up to 3 hours of graduate credits towards an MPA or other degree at any UNC System college or university. These credit hours are fully subsidized the LFNC program.
      • Each fellow will receive appropriate training and support to successfully perform job duties.
      • Each fellow will be equipped with a computer and other technology and supplies necessary to successfully perform job duties
      • A fellow is entitled to no other benefits offered by the local government

One of the strengths of the program is that it is designed to meet the needs of the jurisdiction. This means the fellow scope of work can vary across jurisdictions. During the Summer Academy, the manager and fellow co-create the workplan to meet the fellow’s professional development goals, while also meeting the jurisdiction’s needs. Our first cohort of fellows are working on the following projects:

  • Grant writing to increase capacity
  • ADA compliance
  • Broadband access
  • Economic development
  • Citizen engagement initiatives
  • Strategic communication plans
  • Emergency response plans
  • Policy briefs on technical subjects
  • Environmental sustainability
  • Community health initiatives
  • Hurricane recovery & resiliency
  • Intergovernmental relations
  • Coordinating interjurisdictional collaboration
  • Immigrant communities
  • Infrastructure projects
  • Utilities projects
  • Event planning

We encourage you to learn more about the placements and work of our 1ST cohort of fellows at

Additionally, you can learn more about the proposed work scope of each host site here. Note, the work scope can change based off the needs of the jurisdiction and the interests of the fellow.

This will vary largely based on the host site and the fellow’s workplan. However, fellows should plan on reporting to work daily from 8 – 5 pm. Some weekend and evening work might be required. Read our fellow blog posts to gain a better understanding of the types of projects our fellows are working on and what a typical day is like.

Each host local government will commit to the following:

  • Enter into a single-year employment contract with each fellow. (The contract will be a 12-month fixed-term employment agreement.)
  • Amend the local government’s personnel policy to create a new class of employee – Temporary Salaried Non-exempt One-year
  • Identify specific projects and/or scope of work for fellow to perform during fellowship period. Include a mix of short- and long-term
  • Assign a direct supervisor to the fellow who will provide regular feedback to the fellow and conduct quarterly performance assessments and
  • Identify one or more mentors to the fellow to help the fellow become an accepted and productive member of the local
  • Conduct weekly check-ins with the
  • Afford fellow meaningful training and professional development
  • Allow fellow to participate in any required LFNC trainings
  • Assist fellow in locating reasonable rental housing (if needed).
  • Keep LFNC Executive Director informed of any issues with fellow or fellowship
  • Comply with any performance evaluation and data collection requirements of the program.

Housing is not provided. Fellows are responsible for finding housing and paying for it. LFNC and host governments can provide help in finding housing, but the burden of responsibility falls to the fellows.

Lead for North Carolina is the first state affiliate of Lead for America. As a state affiliate, we share the common mission of placing young future public sector leaders in local government positions. However, Lead for North Carolina is administered and operated by the SOG. The School is responsible for the local government recruitment, fellow recruitment, fellow training and support, and the administration of the program in North Carolina.

The School has invested significant resources to ensure Lead for North Carolina’s success. The program was designed by a team of 10 faculty and staff members and has a full-time executive director dedicated to maintaining operations. Lead for North Carolina works closely with Lead for America to recruit fellows that would be strong candidates for our local governments, but the main operations of the program are defined and set by the SOG, in consultation with our partner organizations.

LFNC is funded by the local governments, philanthropy, and the UNC School of Government. Funders include: Z Smith Reynolds, Wells Fargo, Golden Leaf, The State Employees’ Credit Union Foundation, the Jesse Ball duPont Fund, and private philanthropists. All local governments are expected to financially contribute. Subsidies are provided to Tier 1 jurisdictions.

The NC Department of Commerce ranks the 100 counties annually on the basis of economic well-being. Each county is given a Tier, either 1, 2, or 3. The 40 most economically distressed counties are given a Tier 1 ranking. The next 40 most economically distressed counties are given a Tier 2 ranking. The 20 least economically distressed counties are given a Tier 3 ranking. These rankings are used to encourage economic activity in the less prosperous areas of the state. LFNC and our funders prioritize placing fellows in Tier 1 communities, however, some Tier 2 and 3 communities will serve as host sites. You can learn more about the economic tiers here.

We are still in our first cohort, so this question does not have a concrete answer yet. However, our current Fellows have talked about a variety of potential post-program plans including: Master of Public Administration programs, Master of Public Policy programs, law school, non-profit work, and even potentially staying in their current host communities.