DeKalb County, part of the Atlanta metro area in Georgia, is committed to reducing its climate impact and addressing environmental justice issues. Through a partnership with FUSE, the County aims to develop and implement policies to reduce its carbon footprint, improve waste management, and enhance community resilience.
Fellowship Dates: October 23, 2023 – October 21, 2024
Salary: Executive Fellows are FUSE employees and receive an annual base salary of $80,000. Fellows can also access various health, dental, and vision insurance benefits. Compensation for this year of public service is not intended to represent market-rate compensation for the experienced professionals in our program.
ABOUT THE FUSE EXECUTIVE FELLOWSHIP
FUSE is a national nonprofit working to expand social and economic opportunities, particularly for communities that have been limited by a history of systemic and institutionalized racism. FUSE partners with local governments and communities to more effectively address pressing challenges by placing experienced professionals within city and county agencies. These FUSE Executive Fellows lead strategic projects designed to advance racial equity and accelerate systems change. Since 2012, FUSE has led over 250 projects in 40 governments across 20 states, impacting the lives of 25 million people.
When designing each fellowship project, FUSE works closely with government partners and local stakeholders to define a scope of work that will achieve substantive progress toward regional priorities. FUSE then conducts an individualized search for each project to ensure that the selected candidate has at least 15 years of professional experience, the required competencies for the role, and deep connections to the communities being served. They are data-driven and results-oriented and able to effectively manage complex projects by developing actionable roadmaps and monitoring progress to completion.
Executive Fellows are hired as FUSE employees and embedded in government agencies for at least one year of full-time work. Throughout their fellowships, they receive training, coaching, and professional support from FUSE to help achieve their project goals. FUSE Executive Fellows bring diverse perspectives and new approaches to their projects. They build strong relationships with diverse arrays of stakeholders, foster alignment within and across various layers of government, and build partnerships between governments and communities.
DeKalb County, GA, with a diverse population of more than 750,000 people, is part of the Atlanta metro area. The County is home to Emory University and the headquarters of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, among other prominent institutions. DeKalb County is also known for its natural sites, such as the Davidson-Arabia Mountain Nature Preserve, important African-American and Native American historical sites, and significant natural forested areas that are threatened by development.
The County government has numerous opportunities and potential funding sources that would ultimately enable it to reduce its climate impact, invest in preserving existing natural resources for the future, and start addressing longstanding issues related to environmental racism. Redoubling the County’s environmental justice efforts will prioritize the health of historically impacted and vulnerable communities within DeKalb County, as those communities have been disproportionally impacted by air and water pollution. Engaging in environmental mitigation will have a profound long-term effect on public health on both the community and individual level, as preexisting conditions related to reparatory health proved to be an inflammatory factor in individual outcomes throughout the pandemic.
DeKalb County will partner with FUSE to collaboratively develop and implement policies and plans aimed at enhancing the County government’s and the community’s climate resilience. This collaboration is expected to bring about substantial improvements in longitudinal health outcomes for the residents of the County. The FUSE Executive Fellow will work with a wide variety of stakeholders in local government to develop and implement specific policies to reduce the county’s carbon footprint through greening properties (potentially through energy efficiency upgrades), planning for stormwater infrastructure, fleet electrification, and adding solar energy capacity. The Executive Fellow will also advance policies and develop a plan to expand the county’s waste management services while benefiting segments of the community that have been disproportionately impacted by past waste management decisions. DeKalb County has an opportunity to create a more environmentally responsive local government and serve as a model for how local government can improve community resilience.
PROJECT SUMMARY & POTENTIAL DELIVERABLES
The following provides a general overview of the proposed fellowship project. This project summary and the potential deliverables will be collaboratively revisited by the host agency, the fellow, and FUSE staff during the first few months of the fellowship.
DeKalb County has several opportunities to improve community health outcomes through the reduction of its carbon footprint, protection and preservation of existing natural areas, improving the way biodegradable waste is managed, and creation of new opportunities for the community. There will likely be federal grants, and perhaps other sources of funding, for some of these initiatives. However, the County could utilize additional staff capacity for a talented individual who has the time, expertise and skills required to drive these initiatives forward.
The FUSE Executive Fellow will gather support from stakeholders within DeKalb County government and the region to develop policies and plans for the following initiatives:
- Greening properties: Great strides in improving air quality for residents can be achieved through the reduction of particulate matter carbon output, primarily through energy efficiency and electrification programs. This would include converting the County public service fleet to electric vehicles and setting up vehicle chargers in key locations; implementing power management controls and processes to reduce energy use inside county buildings; and potentially installing solar energy panels. Currently, county facilities and energy use are managed on a department-by-department basis. The Executive Fellow will develop and implement a plan to consolidate energy management to facilitate electrification. This will require gathering input and building support across many county government offices and departments, while also developing a strategy to deliver cost savings and environmental benefits.
- County wide composting. The County owns and manages its own landfill but does not offer composting services. Composting services would reduce the carbon footprint of waste management, provide additional value to county residents, and produce revenue for the county’s waste management function. The Executive Fellow would be responsible for developing a plan to offer composting, including the financial and operational aspects. Because composting services would provide additional revenue to the county, including from major commercial clients, the resulting funds could be used to reinvest in communities adjacent to the landfill.
- Planning for infrastructure improvement: There are countless opportunities for County-owned properties to be leveraged to better protect vulnerable communities. Conducting strategic planning for the future stormwater infrastructure, bioswales, brownfield utilization, and building greenfields can all use added capacity and interdepartmental coordination.
The Executive Fellow will work with stakeholders within DeKalb County government, the community, and key stakeholders from the greater Atlanta metro area. As the Executive Fellow explores funding opportunities — especially federal grants — it will be important to demonstrate that DeKalb is working with the broader community and avoiding duplicative services with other entities, such as smaller towns in the county, the City of Atlanta and the State of Georgia.
- Executive Sponsor – Ted Terry, Commissioner; DeKalb County Super District 6
- Project Supervisor – Kelly Cato, Chief of Staff; DeKalb County Super District 6
In addition to the qualifications listed below, a background in environmental policy practices is strongly preferred for this project.
- Synthesizes complex information into clear and concise recommendations and action-oriented implementation plans.
- Develops and effectively implements both strategic and operational project management plans.
- Generates innovative, data-driven, and result-oriented solutions to difficult challenges.
- Responds quickly to changing ideas, responsibilities, expectations, trends, strategies and other processes.
- Communicates effectively both verbally and in writing, and excels in both active listening and conversing.
- Fosters collaboration across multiple constituencies in order to support more effective decision making.
- Establishes and maintains strong relationships with a diverse array of stakeholders, both inside and outside of government, and particularly including community-based relationships.
- Embraces differing viewpoints and implements strategies to find common ground.
- Demonstrates confidence and professional diplomacy, while effectively interacting with individuals at all levels of various organizations.
FUSE is an equal opportunity employer with core values of diversity, equity, and inclusion. We encourage candidates from all backgrounds to apply for this position.