Lead for North Carolina

Published 5:18 pm Friday, December 27, 2019

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AHOSKIE – Wanted: Enterprising young leaders for North Carolina’s future. And now there’s a program to not only locate them, but also assist them in giving back to their communities.

Lead for North Carolina (LFNC) is a pilot program offered by the UNC School of Government that aims to recruit, train, and place promising young leaders in two-year paid fellowships in North Carolina local governments. It is the first state affiliate of Lead for America.

“The goal is to strengthen our local governments, support local communities, and cultivate a new generation of public service leaders,” according to School of Government Dean Mike Smith.

The program is a partnership with the North Carolina City and County Management Association (NCCCMA), the NC League of Municipalities (NCLM), and the NC Association of County Commissioners (NCACC).

For its inaugural year of 2019, 16 communities from Elizabeth City to Hendersonville are participating, with Fellows coming from state and private colleges and universities.

The Town of Ahoskie has been approached about applying for a fellowship in 2020, and Town Manager Kerry McDuffie presented the proposal to the Town Council at their most recent meeting.

“The School of Government has called us and asked us to apply,” McDuffie said. “It helps college graduates get out into the real world and get real world experience.”

McDuffie added that the program is primarily targeting Tier-One communities, those that are most economically challenged.

“In order to help with that, they are funding the salary and benefits for part of that position for one year, and asking us to fund up to $10,000 for salary, benefits, and the costs to run the program for one year,” he acknowledged.

Applications, he noted, are due in January.

The Town Manager said the application would have to be a budget item for 2020-2021, but before making the financial commitment he wanted to present the idea before Council.

“It’s one of those things I think can be beneficial to the town, and I’m recommending we move forward with at least an application,” he stated. “Let’s see if could get accepted and then review the resumes and see what students they would send to us to consider.”

“In other words, we can apply, but we don’t necessarily have to do it,” inquired Councilman Charles Freeman. “Is it a situation where we would apply, and if accepted they would say yes or no?”

McDuffie did say he felt an application would indicate the town was seriously considering acceptance.

“I think (in applying) we’re kind of committing to doing it,” he answered.

When asked where the student would be used, McDuffie said they would probably be used on special projects.

“I would put them somewhere between Public Works, Code Enforcement, or Administration,” he replied. “There’s probably very little they would do with the Police or Fire departments. It would probably depend on what they (student) would want to do.”

McDuffie touted the administrative skills of the potential fellowship recipient.

“Perhaps some non-development work, working downtown and making some improvements there, or, maybe going after some grant monies” he continued. “You won’t get an individual that has any real world experience, but someone who could probably do good research.”

McDuffie said the School of Government is promoting people with degrees in Public Administration.

Mayor Weyling White said it would be vital that Ahoskie found someone in the talent pool that matched the town’s needs.

Freeman then made a motion to put in an application with the stipulation any candidate selected must fit with the town’s needs. The motion was seconded by Councilwoman Jamie Burns and the council then unanimously approved it.