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Graduate Students Learn the Ins and Outs of Managing a City

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Strengthening the pipeline of professionals entering the field of city management, a Cal State Fullerton fellowship program is pairing four graduate students with mentors from the cities of Anaheim, Buena Park, Garden Grove and Mission Viejo.

Now in its eighth year, the City Management Fellowship Program gives students first-hand experiences in the workings of local government while also fostering collaboration between Orange County city leaders.

City managers meet with fellows throughout the academic year, providing them with opportunities to attend city council meetings, discuss complex community issues and work on specific initiatives.

“One of the subjects we are discussing in depth this year is homelessness in the region,” shared Jim Vanderpool, Buena Park city manager. “This issue is particularly relevant to north Orange County where several cities, including Buena Park, are constructing navigation centers to help our homeless neighbors transition from the street into more permanent situations.

“Orange County cities have a rich history of collaborating on issues of importance,” he added. “With limited resources, it is important that the next generation of leaders learn how critical collaboration can be and the real change it can ignite.”

Vanderpool will be mentoring graduate student Grace Yoon-Taylor, whose motivation to pursue a career in public service stems from her experience being raised by women who survived domestic violence and poverty.

“I understand the importance and power government can have in the lives of the underserved,” said Yoon-Taylor, who chose to pursue her master’s degree at CSUF because of the City Management Fellowship Program. “I want to be at the decision-making table in policymaking and implementation, and to be in a position where I can advocate for diversity and public service programs.”

This year, the City Management Fellowship Program is sponsored by C.J. Segerstrom and Sons and the Orange County City Manager Association. The program provides each fellow with a $1,000 scholarship, membership to the Municipal Management Association of Southern California, and opportunities to attend city management workshops and public administration conferences.

The 2019-20 class of fellows and their mentors are:

Fellow: Caleb Brown 
Mentor: Dennis Wilberg, Mission Viejo city manager

Fellow: Lynda Chavez ’12 (B.A. public administration)
Mentor: Gregory Garcia, Anaheim deputy city manager

Fellow: Stephanie Engel ’02 (B.A. political science) 
Mentor: Scott Stiles, Garden Grove city manager

Fellow: Grace Yoon-Taylor
Mentor: Jim Vanderpool, Buena Park city manager

“During the infancy of my career, I was fortunate to have mentors who provided insight into the city manager profession,” said Vanderpool. “Those mentors provided valuable input into the profession and were a great resource to me throughout my career. As city managers, we owe it to the profession to prepare the next generation of leaders for the new challenges that lie ahead.”

To learn more about the City Management Fellowship Program, contact program director Shelly Arsneault at