Enrich Your Staff and Showcase Your Community

This program, funded by the U.S. Department of State and managed by ICMA, promotes learning and knowledge exchange.

Oct 16, 2014 | ARTICLE

ICMA is seeking U.S. cities to host professionals from ten East Asian/Pacific countries who will come to the United States in May and October 2015 to participate in the Legislative Process and Governance Professional Fellows Program. 

This program, funded by the U.S. Department of State and managed by ICMA, promotes learning and knowledge exchange among key local government professionals from the participating countries. It will be carried out through exchange visits focusing on the themes of legislative process and governance, especially citizen engagement, transparency, and accountabil­ity. 

The participating countries are Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar (Burma), Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, and Vietnam.

Staff in host cities will broaden their perspectives through interaction with international participants—and some host staff will have an opportunity to participate in reciprocal visits to the participating countries. Expectations of U.S. cities are:

  • Host two international Fellows in your community for four weeks
  • Provide an opportunity for the Fellows to work on a project or initiative that seeks to increase community engagement
  • Provide cultural enrichment experiences (home stays or visits, field trips, community events)
  • Assign a staff person to manage and supervise the Fellows’ work and related activities
  • Make in-kind cost-share contributions of labor and direct expenses such as local transportation and office space (travel, accommo­dations, and a stipend for meals and incidentals for the Fellows are covered by the program)
  • Nominate a professional from your staff to potentially participate in a reciprocal international Fellowship.

Timing: International fellows are anticipated to visit U.S. communities from May 2-May 30, 2015, and October 10-November 7, 2015. U.S. Fellows are drawn from those who host the international participants through a competitive selection process and will travel to their counterparts’ organizations for two-week fellowships tentatively set for July 25-August 8, 2015, and February 20-March 5, 2016.

Since 2010, the Fellows programs have brought professionals from six countries to 22 cities and counties in the United States. Many of the U.S. participants have made reciprocal visits and found the two-way exchanges thought-provoking and inspiring:

► “The opportunity to work with the nation of Indonesia has been a chance for my organization to broaden their perspectives of municipal government responsibilities and focused it on our best practices. As City Manager, I personally have seen a new appreciation by my staff for the challenges of municipal government beyond our borders. I believe the continued opportunity to work with Indonesian counterparts allows me to grow professionally and obtain new ideas for use in my American city.” – Mark Watson, City Manager, Oak Ridge, TN

► “The work ICMA, the U.S. State Department, and Chinese officials are doing on this [Fellows] exchange is invaluable to future international relations. . .  The more people know and understand prior to going abroad, the more rapidly they will be able to break through the cultural barriers and get to the deep, meaty, free-flow of innovative thinking in local government. As that happens, and as more Fellows are exposed to peers in other countries, professional management of local government can continue to proliferate into the globalized world of the 21st century.” – David Gassaway, Assistant to the City Manager, Indian Wells, CA

► “My host communities exposed me to operational areas that are comparable to those in my city. I took away lessons learned, practices that work and innovative approaches to problems that I am presenting back to my organization in various settings. Additionally, I had many opportunities to witness the embrace of the tribal culture in New Zealand and the importance of how that country has chosen to integrate their society and governmental approaches.” –Jerene Watson, Deputy City Manager, Flagstaff, AZ

The application deadline for host communities is January 16, 2015. For questions, contact, Lindsay Kuhn and Lauren Crawford. For more information, visit: icma.org/profellowshost.