When it comes to getting work done, four hands are better than two. Given the choice, most local governments prefer to hire full time employees. Though this is often not a practical solution to solving workload issues, ICMA has a solution: share a management fellow with another local government!
Sharing a fellow allows managers to build capacity in the profession without having to go through the process of creating a full-time position, and creates a personal link between those communities. If you are interested in this option and would like assistance locating a partner organization to share a fellow, add that to the "comments" section of the host form (using the button above), or e-mail email@example.com.
Some benefits to sharing a fellow
- Increased regional communication and cooperation
- Opportunity to launch and manage projects with cross-jurisdictional issues
- Shared costs of hosting the fellow
- Fellows share knowledge and ideas from the other organization.
- Fellows are exposed to different management and organizational styles, better preparing them for managerial roles.
- Ability to launch new projects that do not require full-time staff
Recommendations for creating a partnership
- Have one of the governments act as the "lead agency." The lead agency would bill the other government(s) for the Fellows' time spent working there
- Pull together a work plan that points to specific projects on the city's strategic plan
- Agree with your partners on job flexibility - make sure the Fellow has time to check e-mail and voicemail for all of their other organization(s), wherever they are
- Minimize the amount of people involved in the hiring process, if possible
- Agree to hold regular meetings (monthly, or less frequent) with your partner government(s) and the Fellow to discuss the experience and opportunities.
"Sharing a fellow gives communities an opportunity to recruit a highly qualified professional that they otherwise could not place." - Cori Burbach, 2008 Local Government Management Fellow, Dubuque, Iowa/Lancaster, Wisconsin
Shared Fellow Testimonial
"The fellowship provided me a great opportunity for exposure and networking, all while learning the in's and out's of local government. I was able to a part of high-level, strategic discussions that I would not have had exposure to until much later in my career. It has provided me with opportunities and exposure far beyond what I would have had at an entry-level local government position.
More specifically to the unique rotation format, I got to see four different cities' approaches to the function of local government. From city council meetings and department structures to hiring practice and budget strategies, I got an insider view on four different cities with four different cultures. I saw firsthand how four cities in neighboring jurisdictions were handling the same regional issues, like transportation and housing, while having to balance their respective priorities. Additionally, I was able to observe four styles of leadership and management through working closely with the city managers of the cities. It was an invaluable experience to understand my own likes, dislikes, and leadership style. The experience will forever shape the type leadership and practices I will strive for." - Madison Thesing, 2016 Local Government Management Fellow, Cities of Hillsboro, Beaverton, Tigard, & Tualatin, OH
Durham County and the City of Durham, NC, currently share a fellow between their organizations. A copy of their work plan is available for download. They began sharing a fellow in 2012 and have continued through 2016 (currently hosting a new two-year fellow). A partnership between the county of Durham, and the city of Durham, North Carolina, allows their fellow to learn about both county and city government independently, while also learning how they function together for the betterment of the community. The fellow's time is split 50/50 between the two communities, though the fellow has the flexibility to spend more time on a project if needed. A write-up about 2012 fellow, Emily Leik, is available in ICMA's newsfeed, including a recording of a conversation between Emily and her (former) deputy county manager, Lee Worsley. A fellowship in these communities is generally a two-year program, though either the city or county has directly hired their fellow after one year, when a position is available.
Lancaster, WI and Dubuque, IA shared a fellow in 2007 and 2008. Based on the success of this experience, they shared again in 2009 and 2010 (both two-year fellowships that started as one year). This is a unique experience for a variety of reasons. Small and large city experience, different management styles, different states with different regulations, different revenue streams, different management structures and levels of responsibility. It's a real crash-course in local government management. A copy of their share agreement is available for download for an example of program structure. The managers of both communities have made this available for any host interested in replicating this program.
University Place and Federal Way, WA, shared a fellow in 2005. Christina Smith followed her manager to another community, and based on the successful experience, both University Place and Federal Way have continued hosting Fellows in their communities in following years. In successive programs, they decided not to share, but put in enough resources to have their fellows full-time, given their successes. Bob Jean, University Place, city manager, said, "sharing a Fellow allows both communities to receive executive level talent at the Fellowship level. I was very impressed with the quality of the candidates from whom we could choose and we are delighted with our Fellow." A copy of their share agreement is available upon request.