UNC ICMA as Focus Group for Durham County by David Finley

Late last year the Durham County Manager’s Office approached UNC ICMA about using the Chapter as a focus group for some ideas they had about attracting young, fresh out of graduate school students in the area. Outwardly, our response was, “Yes, that would be a good fit for our monthly meeting,” but inwardly I thought, “ABSOLUTELY! What a unique and interesting opportunity for the chapter.”

Drew Cummings, Durham County Assistant Manager, and Michael Davis, Durham County Strategic Initiative Manager and UNC MPA Alum, visited the School of Government to get our perspective on some ideas they had for new positions targeted for recent graduates. Drew and Michael were exploring how they could create a team of recent graduates in Durham County that would lead the way in implementing the County’s new business model, ‘Managing for Results’. Their idea was to create a ‘Management Analyst Corps’, which would follow a cohort-model and be comprised of recent graduates of nearby universities, including UNC’s MPA program.

To fill in the gaps of their business model, Drew and Michael’s idea was simple. Create a small, tight-knit group of analysts to be curious and investigate ways to improve the organization. The analysts would serve as the conduit between the managers and the workers:

Durham ChartSince these are the types of jobs that members of our Student Chapter are interested in, it goes without saying that the discussion was very engaging. As Drew and Michael facilitated the conversation, the Chapter began testing some of their assumptions and bringing new ideas to the table for them to consider. Chapter members asked things like, “How would this be different from a fellowship?”, “How will the corps work with each other?”, and “Will there be a diversity of experiences?” This cross-pollination of ideas was exciting to watch. Though it’s not clear if Durham County will create the ‘Management Analyst Corps’ yet, it was a good exercise for students to take the time and seriously think about what they want out of their next job after graduation.

For more information about Durham County’s new business model, ‘Managing for Results’, click here: http://strategicplan.dconc.gov/

UNC ICMA Fellowship Panel By Caley Trujillo

Recently, the ICMA Chapter hosted two UNC MPA Alumnae Jenifer Della Valle (2014) and Mattie Sue Stevens (2013) to share their experiences as ICMA Local Government Management Fellows.  Mattie Sue and Jen are two of UNC ICMA’s record-setting four fellows (no other school has had more than two at one time!). Jenifer Della Valle, ICMA Fellow for the Town of Hillsborough, serves as a Management Analyst and Assistant Public Information Officer. Mattie Sue Stevens is a joint ICMA Fellow between the City and County of Durham, NC.

The ICMA Fellowship is a career-development opportunity that places Fellows in full-time local government management-track positions. The competitive program serves as a great way for recent MPA graduates to earn local government experience and begin their careers. Last year, ICMA placed 35 Fellows within 21 communities. The Fellowship typically lasts two years and exposes Fellows to a variety of local government functions.

Durham Fellow Mattie Sue Stevens says her favorite aspect of being a Fellow is the breadth of experience she has been able to have. She has worked with staff in nearly every City and County department in some capacity, and been introduced to many different local government functions. She believes being able to participate in such a wide variety of projects has helped her identify areas she is interested in pursuing professionally, and it has given her some of the broad knowledge she will need as a leader someday.

For many in the ICMA Chapter it was their first opportunity to learn about the ICMA Fellowship and all that it has to offer. For many, it was interesting to hear not only about the Fellow’s experiences, but also their journey through the application process. Hillsborough Fellow Jenifer Della Valle shared with the group her experience determining which fellowship would be the best fit for her. ICMA Chapter President David Finley appreciated the shared insights. “It was awesome to hear from new professionals about how they navigated the job search process after their MPA degree. It was insightful thinking about the types of pros and cons when it comes to looking for a fellowship opportunity,” said Finley.

Mattie Sue offers words of inspiration to those who are contemplating pursuing an ICMA Fellowship. She believes, “If you’re convinced that you want to be in local government leadership, the Fellowship is a great first step—you can get a wide range of meaningful experience and begin building a network of contacts across the nation. If you’re interested in local government but not sure it’s the right fit for you, the Fellowship offers a low level of permanent commitment and a high level of opportunity for exploration. Either way, it can be a tremendously valuable experience!”

For more information on the ICMA Fellowship please visit:


The American Job Revolution You Know Nothing About

Check out this article posted to the Knowledge Network by MPA@UNC’s Thomas Mirc. Great read about workforce development in rural america.

The American Job Revolution You Know Nothing About

by Thomas Mirc

America is starting to address its longstanding Science, Technology, Engineering and Math deficiency through the sheer power of private sector entrepreneurship. And it’s not happening where you’d most likely suspect it. Areas of Nebraska, Alabama, Kansas, rural Missouri, and Southeastern Georgia are cultivating more than just crops, they’re educating and building highly adept and versatile technical information technology workers.

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