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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. The virtual interview process will take place in April 2022. Employment contracts with selected fellows must be tentatively finalized by the end of April 2022.

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 two to 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.
  • 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
      • Health Care Stipend: $3,100
      • 3 Graduate Credit Hours Applied to Graduate School: $3,600
    • 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

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 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

Our 16 fellows from Cohort One secured more than $10 million in grants to support community initiatives and projects and provided $1.8 million in estimated cost savings to the governments, creating an excellent return on investment for local government partners. By the end of the first year of the program, 94 percent of local governments surveyed reported that hosting an LFNC Fellow helped expand their organization’s capacity to achieve goals and 88 percent said fellows helped them to complete work they had previously been unable to prioritize. We encourage you to learn more about the placements and work of our fellows at

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 Exempt One-year Fellowship.
    • Identify specific projects and/or scope of work for fellow to perform during fellowship period. Include a mix of short- and long-term projects.
    • Assign a direct supervisor to the fellow who will provide regular feedback to the fellow and conduct quarterly performance assessments and reviews.
    • Identify one or more mentors to the fellow to help the fellow become an accepted and productive member of the local government.
    • Conduct weekly check-ins with the fellow.
    • Afford fellow meaningful training and professional development opportunities and 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 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 ten 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 governments in economically distressed communities.

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. After Dante completed his first year of service, Dante was recently hired as the Human Resources Director and serves as the youngest member of the City’s leadership team.

**These dates will be updated to reflect the 2022 timeline in March**

LFNC Candidates apply by April 15. Candidates advancing to the semi-finalist round interview with School of Government faculty and staff April 26 – 29. Candidates advancing to the finalist round will interview with host governments in early May. We expect offers to be extended to fellows by May 21. The LFNC Summer Academy will be July 11 – 24. Fellows must be present for the entire training. We are currently planning half of the training to be conducted virtual with the other half of the training to be conducted at the UNC School of Government. Again, all LFNC Fellows are required to attend the entire training. Fellows will begin their year of service on August 2.

The second year of the fellowship is optional for both parties (the host government and the fellow). Towards the conclusion of the fellow’s first year of service, both parties will have the option to renew the contract for a second year. In the second year, we anticipate the fellow’s salary to slightly increase.

Please email Dylan Russell (