LFNC fosters professional development, cohort-building for Fellows across North Carolina

The Lead for North Carolina (LFNC) program continues to lead the way in preparing its Fellows for successful careers in public service.

In addition to the professional public service experience the program provides, LFNC also outfits fellows with new skills and a strong cohort mentality. Through regular virtual trainings throughout their service, as well as in-person events with their peers and program alumni, Fellows have the opportunity to build their public service toolboxes and professional networks.

Starting with the summer academy that immediately precedes each cohort’s first year, School of Government faculty and career professionals in the public service field meet with students daily for two weeks to prepare them for their service. Lessons in budgeting, legislative writing, and more prepare Fellows to address any challenges they may face at their host sites.

“The LFNC training provided by the School of Government gave me a great foundation to work from when I got to Washington County,” said Richard Livingston, a Fellow from Cohort Three. “I was immediately able to apply what I learned to real world problems, something that greatly enhanced my impact.”

During their service year, Fellows receive virtual training each quarter that expands on this initial foundation. “These trainings primarily focus on building leadership skills,” said Rebecca Badgett, a teaching assistant professor at the School and long-time facilitator of the LFNC program. "However, the trainings have also touched on other areas relevant to the fellowship experience.”

Badgett went on to note how she offered training on strengthening internal controls in finance departments, while faculty members Kristi Nickodem and Kristina Wilson conducted a training on First Amendment audits last fall.According to LFNC Executive Director Dylan Russell, these experiences serve “to bridge the gap between scholarship and practitioners, to equip fellows with the skills, knowledge, and experience to be successful in local government organizations.”

Other events bring the cohort together with School staff and LFNC alumni for public service conferences such as the annual NCCCMA (North Carolina City & County Management Association) Seminar or the annual LFNC summer academy that welcomes the succeeding cohort. These events give the Fellows the opportunity to bond as a cohort, fostering collaboration and long-lasting professional relationships, but also serve as further learning experiences through discussions with field experts and current public servants.

Whether in the classroom or at a conference, Fellows consider these experiences integral to their fellowships and careers. For Cohort One Fellow Liam Brailey, the ability to meet and collaborate with like minded peers and professors through the School was invaluable.

“I had the opportunity to build a strong network of people my age who are interested in public service,” Brailey said. “The bonds I made with my cohort gave me a support network that I could lean on and learn from throughout the fellowship.”