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Apply by May 1 to become a Lead for NC Fellow



Once we have a firm commitment from our host local governments, we will actively recruit for a pool of fellows. 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.

Lead for NC focuses on recruiting public service–minded individuals who have a strong connection to the state. 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 2023. Employment contracts with selected fellows must be tentatively finalized by the end of May 2023.

Fellows will receive training from the UNC School of Government (SOG), and fellows and host local governments will receive support throughout the fellowship from the School. Specifically, fellows will participate in approximately three weeks of graduate-level training from the SOG (July 20 – August 4). 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, local government law, 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. 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 and all subsequent training is required as part of the program. Absences are not permitted.

Each Fellow will receive the following:

  • Enter into a single-year employment contract with each fellow.
    • Compensation and Benefits
      • Living Allowance ($33,000 distributed monthly over your 11-month contract)
      • Health insurance provided by UNC Chapel Hill
      • SEGAL Education Award ($6,895 that can be used to finance graduate education or pay back qualified student debt)
      • Student Loan Deferment and Interest Forbearance
      • Graduate Credits from UNC Chapel Hill. Many institutions accept transfer graduate credits from UNC-CH, meaning less classes you have to pay for in graduate school. This is a $1,950.39 benefit.
      • My AmeriCorps Membership – Access to free legal counsel, in-person therapy sessions, financial advisors, life coaches and more.
      • Alumni network – Join a network of like-minded leaders who are passionate about improving communities. AmeriCorps alumni receive access to special benefits and resources. For example, many colleges and universities match the Education Award and offer additional AmeriCorps scholarships. Additionally, our alumni are inviting back to future service events and celebrations at UNC Chapel Hill.

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
  • Homelessness
  • Public health
  • Affordable housing
  • Intergovernmental relations
  • Coordinating interjurisdictional collaboration
  • Immigrant communities
  • Infrastructure projects
  • Utilities projects
  • Event planning

Learn more about the 2023-2024 host site work scopes here:

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.

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:

    • Assign a direct supervisor to the fellow who will provide regular feedback to the fellow and conduct quarterly performance assessments and reviews.
    • Provide mentors within the host organization and the community to help the fellow integrate into the community and workplace
    • Assist fellow in locating reasonable rental housing (if needed).
    • Identify specific projects and/or scope of work for fellow to perform during fellowship period. Include a mix of short- and long-term projects.
    • Conduct weekly check-ins with the fellow.
    • Afford fellow meaningful training and professional development opportunities and allow fellow to participate in any required Lead for NC trainings.
    • Keep Lead for NC 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. Lead for NC and host governments can provide help in finding housing, but the burden of responsibility falls to the fellows. We have not had an issue with a Fellow identifying housing options to date. 

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 UNC School of Government. 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, but the main operations of the program are defined and set by the School of Governments, in consultation with our partner organizations.

LFNC is funded by the local governments, philanthropy, and the UNC School of Government. Funders include: AmeriCorps, State Employees’ Credit Union Foundation, Z Smith Reynolds, Wells Fargo, Golden Leaf, State Farm, and 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 May 1. Candidates advancing to the semi-finalist round interview with School of Government faculty and staff late April. Candidates advancing to the finalist round will interview with host governments in May. We expect offers to be extended to fellows by mid-June. The Lead for NC Summer Academy will be July 20 –  August 4. Fellows must be present for the entire training.Fellows will begin their year of service on August 7.

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. 

Please email Dylan Russell (