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 to apply. Send program inquiries to or call 719-325-6416

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

John Trylch
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 to apply. Send program inquiries to or call 719-325-6416

VLGMF Fellow Jose Vargas, CW4 (Ret.) Hired as Fleet Maintenance Supervisor for Overland Park, Kansas



My VLGMF Experience – Everett Morrow, SGM (Ret.)

The Veterans Local Government Management Fellowship Program is an excellent program that provides transitioning Soldiers a better opportunity for a smooth transition from military service.  I am transitioning after 30 years of military service and I am grateful that the City of Fountain has embraced the VLGMF program.

During my Fellowship, I have had the opportunity to work with an awesome team in the City of Fountain.  The Fountain team was readily available to assist and allow select transitioning Soldiers who met the requirements an opportunity to experience first-hand how a local government functions.  The interview process and being selected to take part in this great program was absolutely one of the best experiences that I have encountered during my transition.  I was welcomed in by the City Manager of Fountain and was introduced to all the employees of the organization.  The atmosphere and the employees in the workplace (City Hall) were inviting and everyone was eager to assist in any way.

Working with the different agencies and departments was very educational in respect to how a local government functions as a whole.  Understanding their rules and procedures was an easy adjustment because of the similarities to the Army and the structure in the workplace.

My first experience was with a synchronized team of professionals in the Engineering department.  The department was up to the challenge and willing to invest in taking on another project in support of the Veterans Local Government Fellowship Program.  During my orientation, the Deputy City Manager and the City Engineer briefed the different projects that were in motion for the City of Fountain.  I had the opportunity to participate in many of the improvement projects which involved coordinating with different agencies and was coached by the department heads on best practices.

Next, I worked with the streets department Superintendent and Foreman and was enlightened by all of the different elements incorporated within the streets section.  Observing one of the improvement projects (Community Development Block Grant) from start to finish provided a great example of the professionalism and pride within the organization.  This was a phased improvement project that I had direct involvement with throughout the entire process.  I was coached by one of the engineer technicians on the standards of compaction tests before pouring concrete for curbs, gutters and sidewalks.  The engineer technician demonstrated the step by step process and then I was shadowed as I conducted a compaction test for one of the curb and gutter replacements.  Having the opportunity to participate gave me a greater appreciation for their hard work and motivated efforts.

The electric department’s Superintendent briefed their day to day duties and responsibilities, and I had the opportunity to accompany one of the crews on a couple of work sites where they had to change out electrical poles.  The crew identified and explained the different criteria for replacing power line poles and their attention to detail in doing so.

Overall, I 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. 

Thanks to ICMA, the Veterans Local Government Management Fellowship and the City of Fountain for creating better opportunities for transitioning Soldiers.

Best Regards,

Everett Morrow,  SGM (Retired)


VLGMF Cohort 17-02 Applications Open


The next Veterans Local Government Management Fellowship (VLGMF) Cohort 17-02 is open for applications and will run from 10 July- 27 October 2017, with an application deadline of 23 June 2017. Interviews are tentatively scheduled for 29/30 June 2017.  

Fort Carson and Buckley AFB, Colorado, and Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, will serve as military installation sponsors for this cohort. This will allow for placement of Fellows with local governments in Southern Colorado, Denver Metro, and Kansas City Metro, Kansas areas.  This cohort’s sponsoring local governments can be found on each of the individual military installation applications. 

Applications are now on the NEOGOV online platform with the support of the International City/County Management Association (ICMA) and can be accessed through the link below. 

The program is expanding among many of the military installations and local governments in the ICMA Mountain Plains Region. The Mountain Plans Region includes the states of Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado, Idaho, Kansas, Montana, Nebraska, New Mexico, North Dakota, Oklahoma, South Dakota, Texas, Utah, and Wyoming. Please look for new partners as we expand over the next few years. 

A complete application packet consists of the following:

1) complete online NEOGOV application

2) resume

3) cover letter

4) commander’s authorization memo (Army)* or Air Force Virtual Education Center [AFVEC] approval letter (Air Force)  

* Commander’s authorization memo templates: Fort Leavenworth and Fort Carson


Fellow Eddie Ruiz Selected For Denver County Sheriff’s Training Academy


2016 Veterans Local Government Management Fellow (VLGMF), Eddie Ruiz, has been selected to attend the Denver County Sheriff’s Training Academy to receive his Colorado Peace Officer Standards and Training (POST) Certification and serve as a Deputy Sheriff.  

Prior to retiring as a U.S. Army First Sergeant, Eddie served as a Fellow with the Pueblo West, Parks and Recreation Department. Eddie’s leadership and management experience made him an integral and valued member of the the Parks and Recreation team. His experience during the Veterans Local Government Management Fellowship gave him a solid foundation in local government management and provided opportunities to work with the community and gain valuable experience in local government operations.

Following his Fellowship, Ruiz decided to remain in local government and applied for a career in local law enforcement. In order for Ruiz to be selected, he first had to complete a comprehensive selection process, including numerous tests, interviews, and a thorough background investigation. As a new recruit, he will be exposed to 20 weeks of intensive training on a variety of subjects, including: Inmate Management, Firearms,  Physical fitness,  Emergency driving, and Report writing.  Ruiz will officially report to the academy on April 17th.

Air Force Veteran Assumes County Manager Post in Sullivan County, NH

Derek Ferland,

By Patrick O’Grady
Valley News Correspondent
Thursday, March 16, 2017

Newport — A 1991 Stevens High School graduate who served 22 years in the Air Force has
been selected as the new Sullivan County manager, county officials announced on

Derek Ferland, 43, has begun working with county manager Jessie Levine, who is retiring
later this spring due to health reasons. Ferland, who retired from the military earlier this year, was chosen from a nationwide field of more than 35 candidates after the commissioners spent a few months reviewing resumes and conducting interviews.

“It was his vast amount of management experience in the military,” said Jeff Barrette,
chairman of the three-member County Commission, when asked about some of what
made Ferland stand out among the candidates.

Barrette also said all three commissioners were impressed by Ferland during the interview
process.“He was phenomenal. Just blew us away,” Barrette said. Managing projects of $10 million or more and tackling new job responsibilities every couple of years demonstrate his knowledge and experience in the field of finance as well as his ability to adapt to change, Barrette said, adding that Ferland’s local ties also were a factor.

In a news release from the county commissioners on Wednesday, Ferland said he is
looking forward to the challenge and to coming home.

“I am honored to serve as the next county manager and thank the commissioners for the
opportunity,” Ferland said.

In a phone interview on Wednesday, Ferland talked about the philosophy he will bring to
the job, giving a nod to the work done by Levine.

“I want to continue the emphasis on being accountable to the taxpayers and the people we
serve,” Ferland said. “Take care of the customer (meaning nursing home residents and
others); take care of the taxpayers and look far enough down the road so there are no
surprises and we can continue to keep Sullivan County running eciently and effectively.”

Ferland said his career in the military efforded him the opportunity to be in charge of a
large number of people in different capacities including as deputy commander and
squadron commander, to name two.

“It was a great opportunity to be in an executive role,” he said. Ferland said he also gained experience in managing tight budgets in the face of federal cuts.
“I am very familiar with having to make hard calls on a budget,” he said.

After graduating from Stevens, Ferland went to the Air Force Academy in Colorado and
though he had a long career in the military, he has always been interested in transitioning
to municipal government.

“It is a pretty good transition from (Air Force jobs) to municipal government in terms of
function,” he said. In the news release, Barrette said having someone with Ferland’s experience who has local ties is an ideal combination.

“His management experience and local knowledge will be a great asset to our county,”
Barrette said. “He will fit very well with our talented management team and will continue
Jessie’s good work.”

Ferland and his wife, Dana, have three school-aged children, the oldest a high school

As county manager he will handle a $31.5 million budget and about 280 employees.

His salary is $100,000.

Patrick O’Grady can be reached at

VLGMF Fellow Hired as El Paso County Fleet Manager


VLGMF Fellow Nole Hopkins Hired as Next El Paso County Fleet Manager

The Veterans Local Government Management Fellowship program is pleased to announce that recent Fellow graduate, Nole Hopkins, CW3 (Ret.), has been hired as the new El Paso County, Colorado, Fleet Manager. Nole recently served as the VLGMF Fellow for the City of Fountain, Colorado, where he gained experience in the City’s Emergency Operations and Fleet Maintenance Departments.

Nole joined the military in 1996 where he first served as a Heavy Wheeled Vehicle Mechanic (63S), Non Commissioned Officer, and in 2006 made the decision to become a Warrant Officer. In 2008, Nole achieved his goal of becoming an Automotive Maintenance Officer (915A), where he was responsible for managing day-to-day operations and personnel for battalion fleet maintenance. Most notably, Nole served three combat tours in Iraq as an enlisted Soldier and as a Warrant Officer.

“After serving my country for 20 years, I am looking forward to serving the residents of El Paso County as their new Fleet Manager,” Hopkins said. “I hope to continue to serve the citizens of this awesome county for many years to come. Thank you to all those who have mentored me and given me the opportunity to succeed in life. I especially want to thank the VLGMF Program, which showed me firsthand how things are done in local government and what it takes to make things happen in the community. The VLGMF is a great program and I am glad to be associated with it.”


Veteran Named Next Jefferson County Manager


Colonel Donald J. Davis Named Jefferson County Manager

Jefferson County, Colorado announced today that Colonel Donald J. Davis has been selected to assume the role of County Manager, reporting directly to the Board of County Commissioners. Current County Manager Ralph Schell is set to retire in early March.

Davis will join Jeffco from a long career in the United States Marine Corps, where he served in various roles including most recently as Chief of Strategy and Campaign Plans for NORAD and USNORTHCOM based in Colorado Springs, CO.

“I have enjoyed serving our country for 27 years, and look forward to serving the residents of Jeffco in the same manner,” Davis said. “Jeffco has a bright future and a fantastic team of employees. It is the best choice for me and my family, and I am excited to work together with the Board of County Commissioners to ensure the community thrives long into the future.”

Jeffco Commissioner and Board Chair Libby Szabo said, “Davis brings a strong commitment to the values guiding the county. He has the ideal combination of leadership and experience, and we are confident in his ability to successfully guide staff in achieving the county’s vision.”

Colonel Davis is a graduate of the Advanced Logistics Officers Course and the Marine Corps Logistics Education Program at Penn State. He holds two Master’s Degrees; one in Public Administration from Webster University, graduating with high honors in March 1996 and a second Master’s Degree in Strategic Studies from the Marine Corps War College.

Davis, originally from New Jersey, has been married to his wife Becky for 27 years and they have four children.

Kate McIntire, Jefferson County Public Engagement Director, will serve as the Interim County Manager until Davis assumes the role in spring 2017. All questions can be directed to or 303-271-8500 until Davis joins the county later this year.
County Manager’s Office