The Department of Local Affairs Best and Brightest Management Internship and Fellowship Program, formerly the Cathy Shipley Best and Brightest Internship Program, partners with counties, municipalities and universities across the state, striving to meet the needs of communities, engage future leaders, and meet students where they are in their professional development, connecting them to community work that sparks their curiosity and leads them to work in public service.
Initially named in recognition of a former DOLA Regional Manager whose career trajectory, dedication and love of local government exemplified the model of earning a Master’s in Public Administration while working in the field, this program combines classroom studies with the real world experience of working in the public sector. Cathy’s professional life proved to be an inspiration to those who followed her footsteps and it is with this model in mind that the Department of Local Affairs has long supported increasing capacity in rural Colorado, finding innovative ways for communities to meet their current administrative needs and look towards the future. This program actively forwards equity, diversity, and inclusion in public service and public administration studies. An integral component of that work is helping to mold new community leaders and setting the stage for their success. It is important that future leaders of our communities reflect our communities and this Internship and Fellowship Program is a natural pipeline to make that happen.
The program will work with local governments, students and educators in various ways:
- Paid summer or semester internships for high school seniors
- Paid summer or semester internships for undergraduate students
- Two-year paid fellowship for MPA & MPPA students studying at the CU Denver’s Center for New Directions (Political Science), CU Denver’s School of Public Affairs, Adams State University, or College of Liberal Arts at Colorado State University
These partnerships meet the following objectives:
- To increase the likelihood of high school students choosing a public service path once they enter post-secondary education
- To introduce local government real-world work at the undergraduate level, ensuring higher success at the graduate level
- To provide a unique opportunity for students to complete their graduate degree while gaining invaluable real world learning experiences
- To develop potential local government managers, planners, economic and community development directors
- To provide a way for DOLA to support small and/or rural jurisdictions in meeting their administrative staffing needs in the most cost effective way possible
DOLA Regional Managers will identify potential jurisdictions and work with local managers to determine possible participation. Each jurisdiction will determine its own needs and job requirements for an intern or fellow. Local government managers considered for the program must develop a work plan and job description, including job duties. Mentorship plans are required for the 2-year fellowship program.
High school and undergraduate internships are paid based on the work being completed. Students must be recommended by their schools and maintain good academic standing.
Individuals accepted into the fellowship program will be expected to take all necessary credit hours according to the academic program in which they are enrolled and maintain good academic standing. Each University Partner has an identified a verification process by which students are selected to apply and interview for a Fellowship position.
High school and undergraduate internships are available on an on-going basis. Graduate Fellows will be placed on July 1, 2021. The application process begins January 1, 2021.
Bill Shrum, 2020 Fellowship Alumni
Speaking as a student with a Bachelor’s degree in environmental design and a Master’s degree in communication prior to my executive MPA experience, the Best and Brightest internship program has been, bar none, the most meaningful and impactful internship program I have ever done in school. My career path was forged by the Best and Brightest program, and for that I will be not only forever grateful, but advocate loudly that more students should participate in the Best and Brightest Internship if a career in local government management is your goal.
Jenn Ooton, 2012 Fellowship Alumni
Working full-time in the Community Development Department at the City of Lafayette, I finished my Master of Public Administration and learned first-hand about how to approach redevelopment of a downtown, the power of caring for a community and the importance of innovation in a small city. Since then, I’ve held a number of roles within the municipal governance structure, including my current position as the City of Glenwood Springs Assistant City Manager. I would absolutely recommend this management internship for anyone looking to enter a career in local government.”
*Ooton is 2020 Assistant of the Year Awarded by Colorado City and County Managers Association
Trish Stiles, Bennet City Manager
The Town of Bennett had its first Best and Brightest intern from January 2018-December 2020. The experience was so amazing and our intern became so valuable to our team we hired her before the end of the program. For a small community like Bennett, having a professional join our team is substantial. We are a small community with big change on the horizon and having a person jump in for help in key areas proved very effective for our community. We have enjoyed the program so much that we are eager to do it again.
Matt Gordon, 2020 Fellowship Alumni
Without my experience as a Best and Brightest, I'm not sure that I ever would have gotten my start working in government. I am eternally grateful for this opportunity and thankful to everyone for giving me a shot to be a Best and Brightest. If you're a City Manager or Mayor and you don't have a Best and Brightest in your community, you're missing a seriously valuable opportunity to help guide and educate the future leaders of Colorado government.
Caitlin Lovett, 2020 Fellow
Since beginning my position as the Local Government Management Intern for Larimer County, I have had the opportunity to meet amazing leaders both at Larimer and throughout Colorado. Linda Hoffmann, the County Manager, has already taught me more about being a strong, ethical leader than I'd ever previously learned. She is complimented and balanced by Lorenda Volker, the Assistant County Manager, who is also an incredibly strong leader, but with a very different style of leadership. Between Linda and Lorenda, I couldn't ask for better role models and mentors. As the Local Government Management Intern, I have had the opportunity to observe and participate in projects and processes that I would have never had the opportunity to engage in before. I have worked on projects for many of the County's different departments: from Natural Resources to Human Resources. I have had several chances to present my work to the Board of County Commissioners, and improve my public speaking. The most rewarding piece of my internship has been all of the fantastic people I have been able to meet who also work for Larimer County. Getting to speak to and learn from so many different individuals, each an expert in their own fields, has been beyond rewarding. And it is all thanks to the DOLA Best and Brightest Management Fellowship that I have been able to experience all of this and make the connections within the amazing Colorado Local Government Community.
Taeler Houlberg, 2019 Fellowship Alumni
My experience with the Best & Brightest program was substantial. Not only was I able to gain experience in the local government field while I finished my degree, but it also gave me the security of having a steady income and health insurance. That was so important for me because it allowed me to truly focus on my school program and succeed academically. I also can't emphasize enough how important the Best & Brightest community has been in my life. It's helped me grow in both a personal and professional capacity and introduced me to individuals I know I can rely on for the rest of my career.
- Current Fellows
Emily (she/hers/her) is a first-year master’s student. A Colorado-born native, she grew up in the Roaring Fork Valley near Aspen. After obtaining an associate degree in Spanish language at Colorado Mountain College in Glenwood Springs, she moved to Fort Collins in 2017 and graduated from Colorado State University in 2019 with her bachelor’s in communication studies focusing on civic engagement and interpersonal communication with a minor in linguistic anthropology.
While in undergrad, Emily was an engaged member of the CSU and Northern Colorado communities with positions in the CSU Center for Public Deliberation and the Rocky Mountain Student Media Corps. She also became a student leader in her department as president of the Communication Studies Club, the focus of her capstone project in public engagement. Outside of school, Emily has volunteered with multiple campaigns fighting for causes ranging from environmental protection to human rights.
Steve King is a Best and Brightest Fellow for the Town of Bennett and second-year graduate student in the School of Public Affairs at the University of Colorado-Denver. He is pursuing a Master’s in Public Administration. Prior to joining the program, he earned a B.A. in Political Science at Metropolitan State University of Denver. Steve has been a long-standing public servant, working to advance solutions to social and systemic issues in the areas of education, economic security, healthcare and workforce development.
Steve cares deeply about the needs and opportunities for those less fortunate and has fought vigorously to help create a more just and equitable world. Prior to returning to graduate school, Steve served as a Senior Policy Advisor to Governor Jared Polis, where he managed a wide range of policy issues. Steve likes to say, the investments with the greatest returns are the ones we make in the potential of others.
Miriam Luna Gonzalez
Miriam Luna Gonzalez is the Best and Brightest Fellow for the City of Salida. She is a Colorado native, raised in Denver. In 2019 she received her bachelor's degree in International Affairs from the University of Colorado Boulder. Prior to graduation, Miriam was an intern for the office of Congressman Ed Perlmutter. Upon graduating she accepted a position at a non-profit organization, where she discovered her interest in public service. She is a second-year student in the MPA program with a concentration in local government at the University of Colorado Denver.
As a first-generation, Latina woman, Miriam has a passion for helping her community by tackling community issues at their root cause to create greater change. Through her firsthand experiences, she became passionate about social justice, education, and equity and plans to keep them at the forefront of her future work in local government.
Gabe Mansfield is the Best and Brightest Fellow for the Town of Poncha Springs. He received his Bachelor of Social Work degree from the University of Wyoming prior to being accepted into Colorado State University’s Master of Public Policy and Administration program. While interning for Albany County SAFE Project, a nonprofit that provides services to survivors of domestic violence, sexual assault and stalking, Gabe became disillusioned by the fact that although he was able to help individual people overcome their own traumatic experiences, survivors kept coming in with the same problem and he realized that he was not contributing to eradicating the actual issue.
It is because of this that he was drawn to local government and the MPPA program at CSU, where he could still have that interpersonal connection that he enjoys by working with individuals on a micro level, but he would also have the opportunity to become an agent of change capable of reforming policy and be able to fight for the issues that he believes in. He hopes to one day become a transformative leader capable of elevating the people around him and helping them reach their full potential.
Allesha Beaulieu is originally from Minnesota and graduated from the University of Oregon in 2017 with her Bachelor’s in Social Science. Since then, she has been working for non-profits that provide re-entry and housing support. In 2021 Allesha started her Master’s in Public Policy and Administration at CSU. She is a Best and Brightest Fellow for the Town of Hayden and is supporting them in various community projects. Allesha is an avid crafter and in her free time enjoys playing with her dog and spending time with her family.
Nevan Mandel currently serves Clear Creek County as the Strategic Planning and Community Engagement Fellow through the Best and Brightest Program. Prior to this position, Nevan held various project management, public engagement, educational programing, sustainability program development, and hunger-relief coordination roles for educational institutions and local government entities in Colorado. Nevan’s pronouns are He/Him/His.
Nevan is a Master of Public Policy and Administration candidate at Colorado State University specializing in Public Policy. These studies complement Nevan’s diverse undergraduate studies in Political Science, Economics, Legal Studies, and Environmental Affairs.
For more information about participating as a host jurisdiction, contact your DOLA Regional Manager.