Images of LGMF fellows featured in article

This year marks the 20th anniversary of the Local Government Management Fellowship. Twenty years ago, leaders among the ICMA membership and staff recognized a talent crisis looming in the not-too-distant future. Demographics told a story: we were heading toward a time when a large volume of retirements would clash with a demographic gap (more baby boomers, fewer Generation X’ers). There were not enough (and have not been enough) people to pass a baton to. Compounding this timeline were budgets eliminating once-prevalent management internships and training positions with “entry level” analyst positions requiring two to three years of experience. The classic conundrum: you can’t get the experience you need to get that first job.

As part of ICMA’s Next Generation Initiatives, ICMA partnered with the Network of Schools of Public Policy, Affairs, and Administration (NASPAA), Local Government Hispanic Network (LGHN), and National Forum for Black Public Administrators (NFBPA) to design a program to intentionally attract recent (and inexperienced) MPA graduates and promote a diverse candidate pool.

The Local Government Management Fellowship (LGMF) was born as a career development opportunity for graduates in full-time one- to two-year management-track local government positions under direct mentorship of a senior government leader, most frequently the manager or administrator.

Over the past 20 years, the program has generated 425 fellows, more than 35 who have taken on a chief or assistant chief administrative officer role, and alums who have continued a mentorship cycle through hosting fellows. This record demonstrates that the program continues to meet the designed goals, with the added bonus that the fellows themselves have made a substantial impact in the communities they have served and have demonstrated the importance of investing in career development. Featured in this article are some of those fellows and the impact they’ve made in the community they served, as well as their advice to those looking for a management-track opportunity like the LGMF! More fellow profiles are online at

Scott Pingel headshot

Scott Pingel

City Manager, Newcastle, Washington | LGMF cohort: 2007; Federal Way, Washington

Scott served in Federal Way, Washington, as its Local Government Management Fellow for two years. He had the opportunity to be mentored by both the city manager and assistant city managers. From those mentorships, he learned local government finance and how to work through details from the assistant who served as chief financial officer, learned more of the operations side of local government, and learned how to confront and deal with conflict from the assistant who served as chief operating officer.

Scott’s Advice: Constantly be in learning mode and look for ways to add value to the organizations you work for. Don’t be afraid to fail because failure makes you better, and don’t be afraid to do hard things. Take on as much responsibility as the organization is willing to give you.


Sarah Alig

Assistant City Administrator, Eagan, Minnesota | LGMF cohort: 2014; Olathe, Kansas

Sarah served in Olathe, Kansas, as its Local Government Management Fellow in the city manager’s office and the budget office. She was the staff liaison to the Olathe Teen Council, organized a “Fresh Air” employee development forum, developed a crisis communications plan and a “Communities That Care” grant application, and presented the city manager’s office year-end report to the city council.

Sarah’s Advice: Ask questions! Nobody expects you to know more than you do, and this is a great chance to demonstrate humility and curiosity. Pay attention to the context—sometimes it’s helpful to ask questions right away in a meeting, but sometimes it’s better to pull someone aside afterward and say, “Hey, can you explain what happened in there?”


Crayton Brubaker

Community Development Program Manager, Salem, New Hampshire | LGMF Cohort: 2021; Concord, New Hampshire

Crayton served as the Local Government Management Fellow in Concord, New Hampshire. He worked on new economic development initiatives to enhance the city’s vibrant downtown, including helping the city’s Outdoor Dining and Food Truck Committee draft and pass new innovative policies. Crayton also wrote five state and federal grant applications, coordinated airport public outreach events and development inquiries, and worked on a staff group for the design of a Riverfront Park development project.

Crayton’s Advice: Be a self-starter, be intentional about forming relationships with department leaders in your municipality, and join and stay active in civic groups in the area. Be confident in your abilities, and know everyone struggles with imposter syndrome.


Reneé Van Sickle

Community Development Manager, Winder, Georgia | LGMF cohort: 2021; Winder, Georgia

Reneé served as the Local Government Management Fellow in Winder, Georgia. She facilitated the city of Winder’s entire land use application process and the Historic Preservation Commission within their planning department. Reneé also wrote and submitted several significant grants, including the Community Development Block Grant (CDBG), securing $1.3 million in total grant funding during her year. The city was awarded $1 million in CDBG funding and it was the first time the city had received the award.

Reneé’s Advice: Embrace the experience that is given to you.


Joseph (Joe) Franco

Special Assistant to the Public Works Director, Tacoma, Washington | LGMF cohort: 2022; Tacoma, Washington

Joe served as the Local Government Management Fellow in Tacoma, Washington. During his fellowship, he served as a council policy analyst to four of eight city councilmembers. He assisted with the budget process, local and national media relations, and constituent relations. He resumed the city of Tacoma’s Student Government Day after a two-year hiatus and led a continuous improvement project for onboarding new city councilmembers. Joe also successfully guided the city’s environmental services and public works department’s American Public Works Association reaccreditation bid.

Joe’s Advice: Look out for your future self! Try your best to gain the experiences you need to advance your career. Reach out to people in the organization who are open to serving as a mentor, and take advantage of the resources that ICMA has to offer for career development! You are your best advocate.


Kari Furrow

Budget/Financial Analyst, Montgomery County, Virginia | LGMF cohort: 2022; Sarasota County, Florida

Kari served as the Local Government Management Fellow in Sarasota County, Florida. She served as the project manager for amending an interlocal agreement and establishing an agreement between the county, FDOT, and a private-sector partner to delegate roadway landscaping and maintenance responsibility. She also assisted with the fire department accreditation process and served in an emergency role during the response to Category 4 Hurricane Ian. She served as the project coordinator for the Doing Business in Sarasota County booklet, which provides new and existing business owners key information for operating within the county.

Kari’s Advice: Be flexible and adaptable. Be willing to try new things and be out of your comfort zone.

Hosting a Fellow

Everybody remembers their first local government management position or the mentor that helped advance them in their local government career. As members of ICMA, we must help sustain and grow the profession by mentoring and advancing the next generation of local government leaders. Here are four reasons why you should host a fellow:

Increase your recruitment strategies.

Add 10 to 40 top-quality MPA/MPP graduates to your recruiting process. The LGMF program delivers as many finalist files as you would like to review from top graduate schools nationwide. It’s a great way to contribute to your organization’s succession planning!

Access top talent from across the nation.

LGMF applicants are screened by a panel of alumni fellows, saving your staff time and money by eliminating the first screening process. Finalists are selected based on academic performance, demonstrated potential, and a commitment to public service. With the knowledge that any of our finalists can do the work and will love it, make selecting your fellow as easy as finding the right fit for your team.

Add innovation and new perspective to your organization.

Fellows bring a fresh perspective, valuable skills and experience, and a willingness to take a chance.

Mentor the next generation.

The LGMF offers an opportunity for you to build the future of professional management. It offers the fellow the invaluable experience of “that first job” with access to coaching and mentoring from a manager. The first job is the most difficult to obtain without experience, and good early mentoring is the foundation for an entire career.

Thank you to the host communities for continuing to mentor and advance the new generation of local government professionals! To learn more about hosting a fellow, visit

Headshot of Erika Cooper


ERIKA COOPER is program manager of career and equity advancement at ICMA (

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