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A Note from the Director

Local governments do not have the choice to stop when a crisis hits. They are needed more than ever. As the pandemic began in March 2020, applications were open for the fall 2020 LGFCU Fellows cohorts. The fall offerings were put on pause and attention was pivoted to enhance support of our 381 LGFCU Fellows alumni.

LGFCU Fellows alumni are the backbones of their local governments and communities. From working in public health to social services to police and fire and more, they had to quickly transition how they and their teams did their work while continuing to deliver critical services without interruption. They did not stop at merely providing services; rather, they continued to innovate, change, and excel as they found ways to better serve their organizations and communities. To support these too-often unsung heroes, alumni services became our central focus while we continued to explore the best way to convert an intensive in-person program to a virtual one.

Recognizing the extreme pressures on local government leaders, the Fellows team started hosting twice weekly morning sessions on mindfulness on Zoom every Monday and Wednesday beginning in March 2020. These sessions are referred to as “Five Good Minutes” and based on a book of the same name that is included in the Fellows curriculum. Those sessions are still going strong more than 125 sessions later. An alum recently wrote, “Having ‘Five Good Minutes’ always helps me refocus for the day, and I really hate when I miss it.”

Such practices are for the Fellows themselves, but the learning and resources ripple out into the work they do and the people they lead. In July 2020, an alum shared:

“The level of ‘busy’ and ‘crazy’ that I/we have experienced in public health is totally unprecedented.  I have worked many hurricanes and have been in ‘crisis’ situations as a nurse for many years. But the long-term and uncertain nature of this pandemic is like no other I’ve experienced. I have started incorporating ‘Five Good Minutes’ meditations with the Call Center Nurses, before starting their nine-hour day on the phone.  They LOVE it!!!!”

In addition, a webinar on crisis communication and social events were offered to alumni. The largest event came in October when we held the annual alumni conference. Traditionally a two-day in-person workshop, this year the program was designed as a virtual leadership conference that invited Fellows to attend and to bring key staff members and partners to participate alongside them. The conference aimed to provide support to alumni with the variety of challenges they were facing, including ongoing pandemic and social unrest in their communities. The event featured three tracks with 15 nationally recognized speakers who joined from across the country.  The conference—and all other Fellows events—were offered free of charge to attendees thanks to the support of LGFCU.

From the start of the LGFCU Fellows program, supporting alumni and building an alumni community has been a central goal. We know that leadership is a journey. As we like to say, “Once a Fellow, always a Fellow.” The alumni programming is designed to enhance, expand, and reinforce the training received in the LGFCU Fellows program. It also provides time to reconnect with those who went through the program together and to engage the broader alumni network. The LGFCU Fellows alumni network continues to grow and become a stronger resource and support structure for leaders across the state. The continued commitment to their own development and support of each other is inspiring and models the public service heart that characterizes this group of exceptional individuals.

We never could have imagined the tremendous challenges that local government leaders and the world would have to face. We are thankful and feel privileged to be able to enhance our support and resources to these exceptional and gifted local government leaders especially in these trying times.

Thank you,

Willow S. Jacobson
Robert W. Bradshaw Jr. Distinguished Professor of Public Administration and Government
Director, LGFCU Fellows Program

The continued commitment to their own development and support of each other is inspiring and models the public service heart that characterizes this group of exceptional individuals.


LGFCU Fellows infographic with accessible version available by link below.

Infographic text description


While many treasured traditions vanished in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic, the LGFCU Fellows program remained committed to supporting its hundreds of alumni—and hosting its first-ever virtual alumni conference. | READ MORE

Hand holding a smartphone displaying the agenda for the 2020 LGFCU Fellows Alumni Conference


Headshot of Donald EdwardsDonald Edwards
Chief of Police, City of Clinton

In a year filled with difficult situations, Fellows gave leaders like Edwards the tools necessary to step up in their communities. | READ MORE

Headshot of Rodney Jenkins

Rodney Jenkins
Director, Durham County Department of Public Health

When LGFCU Fellows alumni Rodney Jenkins accepted his first director position leading the Durham County Department of Public Health in January 2020, he had little idea of the challenges ahead. | READ MORE