My Veterans Local Government Management Fellowship Experience – SGT Travis Brown

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The City of Manitou Springs, Hazard Mitigation and Resiliency Department hosted its third Soldier as part of a program tailored for transitioning service members called the Veteran Local Government Management Fellowship. This is a 16 week program where military service members can participate in project management and event coordination at the municipal level and gain experience while being mentored by professionals in that field. In addition, participants are given annual membership and access to ICMA (International City/County Management Association) professional certification in Local Government, as well as membership in ELGL (Engaging Local Government Leaders), and CCCMA (Colorado City/County Management Association).

Sergeant Travis A. Brown began the fellowship January 18th and has had the opportunity to visit ongoing municipal projects; attend community driven meetings; develop standard operating procedures; write requests for proposals for design and construction projects; attend City Council meetings and work directly with city staff on projects that benefit the people of Manitou Springs; listen to citizens discussing issues with their City Council representatives; observe the city administrator directing staff to carry out the policy of the Council and work with department heads to plan and accomplish those policies within the constraints of budgets and other outside forces. Most recently Sergeant Brown has been coordinating the Great American Clean Up event for Manitou Springs on April 21st at 9:00AM in Memorial Park. This event brings the community together to pick up trash and clean local waterways in cities across Colorado.

Sergeant Brown says he felt drawn to this career field after working at a non-profit foundation before he enlisted in the Army. Drawing parallels between his degree in Political Science and local government he said “I found an incredible opportunity to experience how local governments function and also expand the leadership and management skills I developed in the Army. I’ve greatly expanded my network of professionals involved in local government, which gives me a better understanding of how to prepare for a career in this field. I have also learned from a mentor that has the education, experience, and institutional knowledge to guide and motivate me to continue working in local government.” Additionally, “I would recommend this Fellowship to the individuals who truly want to experience how local governments work and plan on pursuing careers in management or government.”

Sergeant Brown enlisted in the Army in July of 2013 as an Infantryman. He was stationed at Fort Carson, CO and served as a Team Leader, Vehicle Commander, and Training Room Administrator. He is seeking to further his education and was recently accepted into the University of Colorado, Colorado Springs Graduate School of Public Affairs.

My Veterans Local Government Management Fellowship Experience – MSG Aric T. Ward

Aric WardPueblo West, CO, May 20, 2018— Before making the decision to retire, I wanted to ensure that I was prepared by completing my MBA to strengthen my knowledge and employability post US Army. Once I made the decision to retire from the US Army, I immediately began to consider what type of position I wanted in terms of functional skills and leadership that matched my values. As I began to weigh my options, I decided to attend a Career Skills Program briefing on Fort Carson and was introduced to the Veterans Local Government Management Fellowship Program. Once I received the information regarding the VLGMF, I knew it was for me. The opportunity to give back to the local community and work in my desired career field was very appealing to me. I was eligible for the upcoming cohort and decided to apply. After the application process and face-to-face interview I was selected to serve as a Fellow for the Pueblo West Metropolitan District.

After serving over 20 years in the US Army as Human Resources professional, I wanted to continue in the same career field after I retire. I have a vast array of experience working at the battalion, brigade, and division levels and even spent three years as a Recruiter. However, once I started transitioning, I learned it could be difficult to translate my military experience to the civilian workforce. This is what’s great about the VLGMF program. Based on my background, skills, and desires I was assigned to the Pueblo West Metropolitan District HR Department and given a Human Resources Manager as my mentor. Not only am I learning how to translate my experience, but I also have someone who can provide guidance on human relations processes and systems, as well as share information regarding the milestones of her career path.

While working in the program thus far, I have been assigned the project of migrating the paper performance evaluation system into the electronic Human Resources Information System. This entails building the evaluation process from the beginning by updating employee job descriptions, assisting in creating compensation matrices, and creating Standard Operating Procedures for accessing the system. Additionally, I have had the opportunity to participate in and provide feedback regarding employee relation’s matters, workers compensation claims, and various personnel actions. Also, completing the International City/County Management 101 Certificate provided me the foundational skills and practices to becoming an effective local government manager.

Being afforded the opportunity to work in the Local Government has allowed me to be apart of something that I am truly passionate about. The chance to work behind the scenes and assist government employees while they implement decisions that positively affect the lives of local residents throughout the community is truly remarkable.

I would recommend the VLGMF program to all transitioning service members who want the opportunity to work for an organization that works in the community. It will give them a valuable experience they can use as a platform to network and navigate the complex path toward finding a new career.

Aric T. Ward, MSG

 

My Veterans Local Government Management Fellowship Experience – LTC Tim Haylett

At the start of my time with Jefferson County, I had no idea what to expect working in local government.  My background in the military equipped me to lead, direct, and coach new recruits and mid-level managers.  I was well versed in logistics, transportation, maintenance and warehouse management, but had little understanding of local government and the skill sets required to serve the people of Jefferson County. 

What I quickly learned about local government was, it is very similar to the mission we perform in the military. At the beginning of each cohort, every fellow receives a mentor.  My mentor, Don Davis, the county manager and a retired Marine Colonel, said to me the first week on the job that “serving in local government is an extension of the job we held in the military.  Instead of performing the military mission of defending freedom, the job in local government is simply to promote the freedoms our military worked so hard to defend.”

Each Monday morning, Don spends about half an hour delivering these visions, values and goals to all new employees assigned to the county; hammering home the reason local government exists.   Strangely enough, the vision, values, and goals for the county are uniquely aligned with our own in the military.  “To promote the health and well-being of the Jefferson County community and the stewardship of its resources.”  Wow, Don was right!!

After a week of being introduced to the staff, attending numerous boards and meetings, and learning the day to day battle rhythm, I was given my first project.  It centered around a Point in Time Survey to identify the homeless, specifically the Veterans, in Jefferson County.  Our team was made up of members of the Human Services Division along with other non-governmental organizations within the community.   The survey was conducted over a 24-hour period with outreach teams deployed to locations throughout the community.  I worked alongside another fellow in the program, Commander Craig Bennett, US Navy, to help survey locations that were known to have a high percentage of Veterans.

Many of the cities within Jefferson County hosted magnet events to attract the local homeless population.  These events allowed the community to provide food, shelter and much needed care while giving the volunteers an opportunity to conduct surveys to better understand the needs of the homeless population.

The exposure I received to Veteran, faith-based, and private organizations were invaluable to understanding the overall picture on how community attacks problems like homelessness, unemployment, mental health, adoption, aging population and much more.  Most importantly, it allowed me a way to stay connected to a community and provide a level of service to others.  I am extremely grateful for this fellowship and look forward to telling others about the great opportunities the VLGMF program provided to me.

Just like our time deployed in various parts of the world, either running a Forward Operating Base, leading a Transition Team, or developing relationships with a tribal leader, local government uses those basic skills to enable the building blocks for the success of our nation here at home.

Author:  LTC Timothy Haylett is an active duty Logistics officer currently serving with the 25th Infantry Division, Schofield Barracks, Hawaii.  Tim has served 21 years in various positions oversees to include multiple deployments to Korea, Iraq, Afghanistan, Bahrain, and Kuwait.  He recently commanded the Army Field Service Battalion-Kuwait.  He is married to his college sweetheart Wendy for over 20 years and has one daughter Emma who is currently in 9th Grade.    

VLGMF Fellow, Kenny Morris, MSG (Ret.) Hired as Construction Observer for City of Manitou Springs, Colorado

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Veterans Local Government Management Fellow, Kenney Morris, MSG (Ret.) has been hired as Construction Observer for the Hazard Mitigation Resiliency Department with the City of Manitou Springs, Colorado.  

Kenny recently served as a VLGMF Fellow with Manitou Springs, receiving experience in the the Hazard Mitigation Resiliency Department. Executing a seamless transition, Kenny recently completed his Fellowship and is now serving with the City of Manitou Springs starting on October 31st. 

Kenny stated that the VLGMF Program presented him with a number of opportunities to, “…fall back on my education in Environmental Science… I was able to gain practical, hands on experience with environmental protection issues, and become well versed in floodplain management, storm water management, and watershed protection. My duties also included inspecting construction sites for compliance with state and city regulations for storm water discharges.”

Kenny also received training and certification as a Certified Stormwater Inspector (CSI) while serving in his Fellowship with Manitou Springs. This training was invaluable and significantly increased his knowledge in Hazard Mitigation and Resiliency. 

We wish Kenny the best of luck in his second career in Local Government and we know he will serve as an incredible ambassador for the program for many years to come. 

The application deadline for Cohort 18-01 is 15 December.  Those selected for Cohort 18-01 will conduct their fellowships from 8 January to 27 April. Interviews are tentatively scheduled for 18-19 December following the application deadline. Fellowship openings with Jefferson County, City of Lakewood, Wheat Ridge, and Aurora, Colorado are still available.  Please apply soon!

Go to https://vlgmf.org/apply/ to apply. Please send all program inquiries to dtangeman@vlgmf.org or call 719-325-6416

My Veterans Local Government Management Fellowship Experience – SFC Eddie Medina

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What does it take to reach your goals? Hard work, dedication, luck maybe? Perhaps it is a combination of all of it. Regardless of how you reach your goals, one thing is for sure, it’s a great feeling of accomplishment. But for some of us that feeling may not last long; that’s because we are in search of the next goal in life…

To reach your goals, you need opportunities. But those opportunities may not often knock on your door, but when they do, you must be ready to take on the challenge. Taking on to those challenges sometimes requires a leap of faith, not only because you are not sure about where is it going to take you, or how long is it going to take to get there, but the unknown of how it is going to end.

Almost 27 years ago I jumped at the opportunity to become a soldier and make a career out of the military. Now, I’m about to complete that goal, and the feeling is great, but I know it will not last.

What is my next goal in life? I was ready to do whatever was necessary to reach my next goal, and I knew it was going to take hard work and dedication to acclimate to my new life, but I was also searching for opportunities… and I got lucky! I didn’t have to search very long, nor did I have to do it alone. Why? Because I was presented with an opportunity to participate in the Veterans Local Government Management Fellowship Program (VLGMF) 

The VLGMF is a program that provides retiring and transitioning service members with the opportunity to learn and work with a local government agency for 16-20 weeks. The VLGMF was the perfect opportunity to reach my goal. As part of the program, I was evaluated and assigned to Pueblo’s Board of County Commissioner’s Office (BOCC). The BOCC took into consideration not only my skill sets, but also my personal desires.

Time was not wasted before I had my first assignment. I was tasked with serving on the Pueblo County Jail Task Force to study all short and long-term issues associated with the county jail. During this process I have met people from all sectors across the community: doctors, lawyers, police and sheriff’s officers, teachers, and mental health counselors, as well as business owners and other community leaders. This experience opened my eyes to the world of politics and allowed me the opportunity to understand the process behind providing solutions to the community’s issues. My next task was to review and research the many vacancies that need to be filled for the county and city’s “Boards and Commissions.”  These boards help achieve the community’s goals for progress in health, technology, social services, education, etc. The process of organizing these committees is a very complex but fulfilling one, and I’m glad that I can be part of the team that makes this happen. 

I was also assigned with assisting the Pueblo County Sheriff’s Office evidence room section and helping with their software to create a more time efficient way to conduct their inventory. From there, this assignment quickly extended to the Public Works Department. Currently, we are developing solutions to increase the department’s capability to inventory and locate critical infrastructures in need of scheduled maintenance. Finally, I have been partnered with the Emergency Services Bureau, learning the culture and the way this agency conducts operations during emergency situations. 

The overall experience that I have been exposed to is one of immeasurable value! Hard work, dedication and a little bit of luck, is helping me reach my next goal. Most importantly, I accepted the challenge to seek a career in local government management and be part of an amazing group of individuals that care deeply about their community,  economics, environment, services and most importantly their people! I am very thankful for the opportunity the VLGMF program offered me, and my next goal in life is at arm’s reach! 

SFC Eddie Medina, U.S. Army 

My Veterans Local Government Management Fellowship Experience – SFC John Blankenship

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My Veterans Local Government Management Fellowship (VLGMF) has been a unique experience. Blending my Federal Government skills with my newly acquired Local Government experience has been a delightful and broadening experience these past sixteen weeks.

I received knowledge in these different departments of Pueblo West Metropolitan District: community event coordination, social media engagement, computer graphics, historical event writing, journalistic writing for social media posts, critical thinking and policy development, human resources procedures and policies, priority based budgeting and zero base budgeting, economic and social development, special district water billing and procedures, procurement, purchasing and contract acquisition, and Local Government structure with the District Manager and the Board of Directors.

One of my tasks was to complete the International City/County Management Association (ICMA) Local Government 101(LG 101) course. The LG 101 course reaffirmed my knowledge of how Local Government should function, as well as an understanding of the Local Government vision and mission to serve their community. Another point about the LG 101 was Economic and Social Development buy in and acceptance procedure. Using a step-by-step set of guidelines with members, employees, and community, the Local Government team can achieve buy-in for  ideas or issues where it is resolved and or passed by using conflict resolution measures. Transparency was also addressed in the LG 101, ensuring the community understands the reasons what or why the Local Government is doing business the way they do. Lastly, the LG 101 explains priority based budgeting ensuring a successful financial and fiscal responsibility plan which translates into a successful Local Government.

Another task was to construct and establish a District Manager’s Critical Information Requirements (DMCIR). The DMCIR is a three phase notification process whereby the District Manager (DM) is notified either immediately, priority, or notified based off a series of approved request criteria. Once the DM is notified they can relay the information quickly and inform the Board of Directors and their staff so proper action can take place. The notifying party has a series of reporting mechanisms such as a Serious Incident Report (SIR) or a Five w’s (Who, What, Why, When & Where) paragraph format. The DMCIR has a standard operating procedure of how Death and Serious injury notifications will be handled, as well as how concurrent follow-up visits will be administered. The DMCIR I prepared was accepted by the Board of Directors as the Notification Policy for Pueblo West Metropolitan District.

Lastly, I was given the task to create a excel spreadsheet to assist Pueblo West Metropolitan District Directors manage their Strategic Plan Goals. The Strategic Plan Goals’ excel spreadsheet helps them by staying informed, updated, and review progress. This document is saved to the District’s shared drive for easy access to everyone. Also, the spreadsheet allows the administrator of the Strategic Plan to monitor the Directors progress keeping in line with the District Manager’s goals.

To say my time working with the VLGMF and Pueblo West Metropolitan District employees has been a pleasurable experience,  would be a half-truth. Working with the District Manager, Darrin Tangeman, Laura Savage, Jay-Michael Baker and the other District Employees has been a honor, privilege, and one of the most memorable times in my life. As a transitioning Active Duty member, I have been imbued with valuable information and blended skills to make myself more marketable in the civilian job market. I want to tell everyone, Thank You, you all have made my transition out of the Active Duty military smooth and seamless.

SFC John Blankenship, U.S. Army 

My Veterans Local Government Management Fellowship Experience – MSG Kenneth Morris

 

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I first learned about the VLGMF (Veterans Local Government Management Fellowship) while attending SFL/TAP at Fort Carson. When I heard about the program I was immediately interested though I was unsure if it would work with my timeline for retirement. I was under six months from retiring, and was still unsure of what I was going to do. Working with the Fort Carson Career Skills Program coordinator and with the VLGMF Program Manager, I was able to find a solution that worked on my timeline.

After being interviewed and offered a fellowship with the City of Manitou Springs Hazard Mitigation and Resiliency Department, I was uncertain of what to expect. My interests in post Army employment were fairly narrow and I was not convinced that this was the right thing for me to invest my time into. I was not sure that working in a local city government would be beneficial for my career goals. I could not have been more wrong. I was pleasantly surprised to find that I could apply some of the skills I had learned in other ways. The importance of this program for me was more than just gaining job experience in local government. For me it was a broadening experience which showed me there was more to do with my chosen degree and skills than I had imagined.

While working with the City of Manitou Springs I have been presented with numerous opportunities to fall back on my education in Environmental Science. My department works primarily with flood mitigation projects. Many of these projects are funded through state and federal programs. All involve environmental impact reviews and Endangered Species Act compliance as well as a host of other state and federal laws concerning protection of water resources and public safety. I have been able to get practical, hands on experience with environmental protection issues. I am becoming well versed in floodplain management, stormwater management, and watershed protection. My duties here include inspecting construction sites for compliance with state and city regulations for storm water discharges.

Another benefit of the VLGMF program is an annual membership with the ICMA (International City/County Management Association) and an ICMA Professional Certificate in Local Government Management. With this also comes access to, and networking with additional mentors who are highly experienced in local government. I am finding out more and more that while education is important, and necessary, it is certifications that make you more marketable. I cannot over stress the importance of networking. As part of the program I was also given the opportunity to conduct a ride along with a Park Ranger at Pueblo Reservoir. It was a fantastic experience that I would not have otherwise been able to do.

As I write this, my mentor at Manitou Springs is planning career enhancing training for me. Since working here at Manitou Springs I have had the opportunity to learn about project management. I have interacted with local elected and appointed officials. I recently observed a routine inspection of the city’s record keeping by the State. I have learned some of the language that is important to understand in local government and have a better understanding of how I can apply my own leadership potential in a local government environment. I would never have been as optimistic as I am about a successful transition from the Army without this opportunity with VLGMF. 

MSG Kenneth Morris, U.S. Army 

VLGMF Fellow, Everett Morrow, SGM (Ret.) Hired as Project Manager with City of Manitou Springs, Colorado

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Veterans Local Government Management Fellow, Everett Morrow, SGM (Ret.) Has been hired as Project Manager for the Hazard Mitigation Resiliency Department with the City of Manitou Springs, Colorado.  

Everett recently served as a VLGMF Fellow with the cities of Fountain and Manitou Springs, splitting his fellowship time between both municipalities. Everett received fellowship experience in the Engineering, Streets, and Electric Departments at Fountain, and the Hazard Mitigation Resiliency Department with the City of Manitou Springs.

Executing a seamless transition, Everett retired from the Army last week and is now serving as project manager with the City of Manitou Springs. Everett served 30 years in the U.S. Army culminating as the SGM with the Directorate of Public Works at Fort Carson, Colorado.

Everett attributed his successful transition from participating in the VLGMF Program and having, “…gained a tremendous amount of knowledge from many different departments about local government functions within the City of Fountain.  It was very beneficial to participate in this phenomenal program and be coached by a different groups of professionals.  I was treated as a permanent member of the Fountain team and I am grateful for the experience.  I highly encourage all transitioning Soldiers to consider this awesome program.” 

We wish Everett the best of luck in his second career in Local Government and we know he will serve as an incredible ambassador for the program for many years to come. 

The application deadline for Cohort 17-02 is 4 August.  Those selected for Cohort 17-02 will conduct their fellowships from 14 August to 4 December. Interviews are tentatively scheduled for 10 August following the application deadline. Fellowship openings with El Paso County, Jefferson County, City of Lakewood, and City of Aurora, Colorado are still available.  Please apply soon!

Go to https://vlgmf.org/apply/ to apply. Please send all program inquiries to dtangeman@vlgmf.org or call 719-325-6416

Fellow John J. Trylch Hired as Community Engagement Manager for City of Fountain, Colorado

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Recent Veterans Local Government Management Fellow and retiring Army Lieutenant Colonel John Trylch has been hired as the City of Fountain’s new Community Engagement Manager.  John served as a Fellow for the City of Colorado Springs, where he worked as a member of the City Council staff. 

“I am really excited to join such a dedicated and impressive team at the City of Fountain and to serve the local community.  I can’t thank the VLGMF program enough for creating the perfect environment to meet, work and learn from great professionals across the spectrum of municipal functions and services.  My fellowship experience was exactly the mentoring, professional development and networking opportunity I needed to help find a new career in local government.”

John enlisted in the Army in 1993, first serving as a Medical Specialist (91B), until receiving an ROTC Scholarship and soon after a commission as an Armor Officer in 1997.  After almost 10 years in the combat arms and tours in Bosnia-Herzegovina and Iraq, John was selected to become a Foreign Area Officer (FAO), specializing in the Western Hemisphere.  He finished the rest of his military career working on various security and defense cooperation matters all across Latin America. 

VLGMF Application Deadline Extended to 4 August

We will be extending the application deadline for Cohort 17-02 until 4 August.

Those who have already applied by the 23 June deadline will conduct their fellowships from 10 July- 27 October 2017. Interviews are tentatively scheduled for 29/30 June 2017. 

Those selected for Cohort 17-02 after the 4 August application deadline will conduct their fellowships from 14 August to 4 December. Interviews are tentatively scheduled for 10 August following the extension deadline.

Go to https://vlgmf.org/apply/ to apply. Please send all program inquiries to dtangeman@vlgmf.org or call 719-325-6416

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