Judy Lyn Kelsey, a pioneer in the local government management profession and long-time ICMA member, passed away in 2015, and generously gifted $108,941 to ICMA in the disbursement of her estate. ICMA is pleased to announce that Kelsey’s gift will foster and support a new generation of women in local government with a scholarship designated for women Local Government Management Fellows.
Kelsey attended the University of Southern California, graduating with a master’s in public administration. She served as city manager in several California cities, including, Eureka, Atherton, and Fountain Valley. She was one of the first women to serve on the ICMA Executive Board as vice president. She served a two-year term from 1976 to 1978, after the membership adopted a constitutional amendment that allowed greater representation of women, minorities, and young professionals. She also served as president of the Municipal Management Association of Southern California from 1972 to 1973. In addition to becoming a trailblazer in local government management, she was a seasoned traveler, developing lasting friendships around the world.
With her gift, ICMA has established the Local Government Management Fellowship Judy L. Kelsey Scholarship. This scholarship will assist women emerging leaders who have been accepted into the ICMA Local Government Management Fellowship program (LGMF), which places a fellow in a manager's or department head's office in a council-manager community.
The goal of the program is to provide critical early-career development opportunities, along with senior mentoring that will assist in launching a successful career in local government management.
The scholarship will be awarded to selected women fellows to augment their salary and defray personal expenses as the individual sees fit, including living expenses, student loan payments, or personal/professional development expenses. The principal of the scholarship fund will be combined with ICMA’s Future of Professional Management Fund to minimize management expenses and increase the endowment’s investment gains.
The amount of the scholarship will be set at $10,000 per year, approved by the ICMA Leadership Team, with the option to grant one $10,000 scholarship or two $5,000 scholarships, depending on the need calculation of recipients. If a suitable fellow is not identified in a given year, the funds will be retained and disbursed the following year.
The estate’s award criteria indicate that the awardee should demonstrate a sincere desire to work in local government management, have a strong academic record, and a need for financial assistance. The current LGMF program meets the first two criteria directly.
Applicants to the LGMF go through a rigorous application process. After finalists are selected by the LGMF Advisory Board, they compete to secure a salaried fellowship with a host community. Once finalists are placed, they are considered fellows. The LGMF program works directly with localities nationwide to place selected fellows under the mentorship of senior local government leadership. Upon completion of the selection process, ICMA will invite any women fellows to apply for the Kelsey scholarship, expressing their interest through a short statement of no more than 500 words and demonstrating financial need.
It is ICMA’s intent to use the entire gift to support new career entrants over the life of available funds, up to 12 years or more at $10,000 per year. The scholarship may be adjusted higher for inflation in future years as deemed necessary.
ICMA also intends to promote this scholarship and solicit additional donations to help women launch careers in local government management and continue the scholarship's lifespan beyond the initial gift. If it is determined that the scholarship will be retired after full award amounts have been granted, any remaining gift funds will stay in the endowment to continue fulfilling ICMA’s mission of promoting professional local government management worldwide.
ICMA is honored to be remembered by Judy Lyn Kelsey, and extends special thanks to her nephew, Lyn Dilbeck, for working closely with ICMA as the executor of her estate.