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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My Veterans Local Government Management Fellowship Experience – Jose Vargas, CW4 (Ret.)

A few months ago I began my search for a new career as I prepared to transition from the military after 24 years of service. That is when I learned about the Veterans Local Government Management Fellowship (VLGMF) through the Fort Carson Career Skill Program and a friend that was part of the very first VLGMF cohort. The application process was easy and moved very quickly. My Chain of Command supported me 100 percent. I was interviewed by a panel of local City Managers/officials and a week later I was offered a fellowship working as a Hazard Mitigation & Resiliency Project Manager for the City of Manitou Springs.

My personal interest in local government, particularly management, is rooted in my desire to impact the quality of life and contribute to improvements within my own community.  I am eager to learn and soak up the various areas that pertain to local governing while drawing from the skills I have already acquired and merge them into tangible contributions for a successful career after my retirement from the US Army.

Local government appeals to me because it channels my interest for my community. It is in my character to serve others. Though I have not yet gained much work experience in this field, through my 24-year Army career and personal experience, I have learned that local government professionals are dedicated to the same mission, serving others. Through my own personal experiences and interactions with local government, I’ve always felt that I am being taken care of and important. Local Government managers drive the machine that provides their communities a sense of reassurance, while building trust with residents so that everyone is heard and respected as members of the community.  The Veterans Local Government Management Fellowship has motivated me to become such a person who is actively involved with my community, making a difference and to see my hard work have an effect on the people I serve.

My two months of working with the city of Manitou Springs thus far have been extremely interesting. I have been learning and gaining experience in many areas, such as Project Management and the intricacies of local government management.  Some of my duties as project manager has involved interactions with city officials, federal agencies and the local community I serve. 

I am looking forward to developing a career in local government and to learn the many different ways I can continue to serve my community. More importantly, I am excited to apply the knowledge I have gained through my education, military career, and daily life.

It is important to me that I have a passion for whatever path my life takes. Since I have control over that path, I am choosing to pursue a career that will provide my life with both meaning and satisfaction. My potential to succeed has always been realized in my life by the passion and  effort that I have put into it. I plan to continue to challenge myself and seek mentorship in local government.  

Jose Vargas, CW4 (Ret.)

Deadline to apply for the next cohort is June 23rd. Go to https://vlgmf.org/apply/ to apply. Send program inquiries to dtangeman@vlgmf.org or call 719-325-6416

Translate your Military Skills for Service in Local Government – John Trylch, LTC (Ret.)

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John Trylch, LTC (Ret.) at Colorado Springs City Hall

Imagine this scenario: You’ve just finished a meeting with the boss.  He’s been on the whiteboard in his office, talking through an initiative and conveying his vision and intent.  He’s heading to a conference in a couple of weeks and wants to have a way to socialize his idea.  He asks if you have any questions, to which you reply, “No Sir, I’ve got all that I need here, let me go ahead and put something together for you.   I’ll generate a couple of different products that I think will capture your ideas, will further develop your concept, as well as help you share it with other senior leaders.”  You leave his office and get to right to work, and as you’ve done so many times, you start crafting and coordinating a concept brief that will be used to convey important ideas that may potentially change your organization for the better.  Sounds like just another day on the professional staff of your Headquarters, right?  Well it’s not.  It’s actually been a meeting at City Hall with a member of the local City Council, and you are utilizing your skills and experience as a military officer to develop a new initiative on behalf of the Council member that may help improve your city.   

The above is just one example of my experience as a Veterans Local Government Management Fellow (VLGMF), assigned to the City of Colorado Springs Office of the City Council Administrator.  I’ve had the tremendous opportunity to work with the Council and to be included as a member of the administrative support team that facilitates council member business and keeps City Hall moving.  It’s been a perfect chance to validate how many of the skills we possess as military leaders easily translates to those needed for successful service in local government.  I have also had the chance to meet and interact with key members of the City staff as well as various community organizations, further enhancing my professional network.    

 The VLGMF has also provided great professional development and educational opportunities.  I have learned new and important skills that will aid in my effort to find a new career and to succeed in my local community.  I’ve benefited from free access to local government education and training products and membership to well-known local government associations such as the International City/County Management Association (ICMA).  Most importantly, I’ve received sound advice and mentorship from experienced local government leaders and staff, all who have been very supportive and enthusiastic about the VLGMF program.  Lastly, the VLGMF has been flexible, allowing me to benefit from a full fellowship experience while also finishing up my out-processing and final transition out of the military service.  With all this in mind, I would absolutely recommend the VLGMF to any retiring or transitioning service member who has an interest in service to local government.  Give yourself the opportunity to learn, prepare and excel as a Veterans Local Government Management Fellow!   

Deadline to apply for the next cohort is June 23rd. Go to https://vlgmf.org/apply/ to apply. Send program inquiries to dtangeman@vlgmf.org or call 719-325-6416