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Mayor names first Capital City Fellows

(Published July 31, 2000)

By RACHELLE A. JONES

Staff Writer

Mayor Anthony A. Williams has inaugurated a two-year fellowship program for recent college graduates that its director calls a "fast track to management" within the District government.

The first class of Capital City Fellows began work in mid-July with city employees assigned as their "mentors." The seven fellows, selected from among 28 applicants, are expected to complete four six-month rotations working for D.C. government agencies that fit their interests and skills.

These agencies will pay the fellows’ $36,604 starting salary, equivalent to the DS-11/1 pay level for government employees. In the second year of the program, fellows are eligible for promotions to DS-12/1 level with an annual salary of $43,874. Fellows also receive all benefits afforded regular city government employees including health insurance, vacation and sick leave.

"One of the things you’re here for is renewing our faith in government," Mayor Williams told the fellows at a press conference on their first day of work. He urged them to "bring our community together and bring (it) upwards."

The goal of the program is to "attract new management talent to the city," said Hilary Cairns, the fellowship program’s manager. Although funded directly by D.C. tax dollars, there is no residency requirement for applicants to the program. As required for excepted service appointments, fellows must become D.C. residents within 180 days of beginning work. There is no required commitment to the District beyond the two-year program.

Cairns said the hope is that fellows "like working for the city" and although there is no guarantee that a job, promotion and raise will be offered to them, she said she hopes fellows will continue to pursue their careers here.

"If it’s not working out for them to be promoted, it’s probably not working out at all," Cairns said. Evaluation for promotions will be conducted by the fellows’ supervisors and will be based on each fellow’s "individual performance plan" which lays out their goals and expectations.

"The work they’re going to be doing is meaningful work," Cairns said. "These projects they’re working on the city really needs done."

In addition to their government positions, fellows are expected to attend educational and professional development seminars and can hob-knob with high-level city officials through "unique opportunities" provided through the program. In these seminars fellows will "learn as much as possible about city development," said Cairns. "Things they might not learn about in the course of their regular job."

Graduates participating as the first Capital City Fellows and their initial city government assignments:

•Constance Brown, a Howard University graduate from Harlem who is being mentored by city employee Luisa Montero-Diaz, was placed in the Department of Health.

•Adam Herringa, who graduated from American University and is working within the neighborhood service unit of the city administrator’s office, is being mentored by Eric Sharf.

•Brandi Bush, a graduate of George Washington University’s School of Business and Public Management who is originally from Kansas, is being mentored by Hilda Jackson in the Department of Human Services Rehabilitation Services Administration.

•Toni Johnson, a graduate of Bowie State University being mentored by Beverly Hill, is assigned to the D.C. Office of Personnel.

•Emeka Moneme, a D.C. native being mentored by Elliot Branch, graduated from the University of Cincinnati’s College of Design, Architecture, Art and Planning and is beginning work in the Department of Public Works’ Intermobile Planning Office.

•Eric Shaw, a graduate of Harvard University’s Graduate School of Urban Design who is from California, is being mentored by Causton Toney and begins work in the Office of Tax and Economic Policy.

•Christine Pollack, a graduate of American University’s School of Public Affairs who hails from New York, is working with mentor Alfreda Davis and has been placed with the Metropolitan Police Department’s Office of Organizational Development.

This year’s applicants were solicited through their graduate schools and by a listserv posting to "people affiliated with public administration," Cairns said. Fourteen of the original 28 applicants were accepted into the program but only seven accepted. The 2001 application is expected to be available on the D.C. Office of Personnel’s Web site in August. Additionally, Cairns said she plans to "continue to market tremendously to local schools."

Copyright 2000, The Common Denominator