Graduate Certificate in Local Government Management

Graduate Certificate in Local Government Management 2016-12-08T06:21:33+00:00

Graduate Certificate in Local Government Management – A Partnership between Virginia Tech and the VLGMA program

The Virginia Tech Center for Public Administration and Policy (CPAP), in partnership with the Virginia Local Government Management Association, offers a graduate certificate program in local government management that provides the next generation of local government managers and leaders with the tools to advance their careers and provide exceptional leadership within the communities where they work. The International City/County Management association (ICMA) has identified leadership development as one of the most important issues that local governments will face in the coming decade.

The Local Government Management Certificate program received the Stephen B. Sweeney Academic Award by the International City/County Management Association.

The certificate program consists of four 3-credit hour courses, for a total of twelve hours of graduate coursework. Students are required to complete all four courses with a GPA of 3.0 or better in order to earn the certificate. Students are exposed to a full spectrum of local government issues, service delivery options, and management tools. The analysis of a real life, local government case study is central to each classroom experience. Case studies are used within the courses to emphasize the relationship between the political and management worlds that all local government managers must understand and navigate in order to be successful. All courses are taught by experienced, highly qualified Virginia local government practitioners via two-way video telecasts to Virginia Tech broadcast centers, allowing the class to be taught around the state simultaneously giving more students the opportunity to participate in the program.

Both Full time and Part time employees of Virginia local government are eligible for financial assistance through the Bob Stripling Scholarship for the Advancement of Local Government Management. Funds available are dependent on donor contributions and are approved on an annual basis.

Students who complete the certificate may apply for entrance as a degree-seeking student in the CPAP MPA program and transfer all twelve credit hours towards their MPA.

More on the Grad School page

Current students include both in-career professionals currently working in local government positions and pre-career students enrolled in the Center for Public Administration and Policy MPA degree program.

This mix of students provides both a lively education environment and significant networking opportunities both inside and outside class. One of the in-career students has commented:

“I have thoroughly enjoyed the weekly class discussions and the case studies, but most of all I have enjoyed the interaction with other local government employees and with the master’s degree students in this course. The class has helped renew my spirit and my love for local government management, and I plan to continue to use many of the concepts learned during this semester in my future years as a manager.”

In-career students include local government managers, assistant directors, department heads, budget and policy analysts, engineers, and planners, as well as other professionals from operating departments of local governments.

Several Certificate earning students have received career promotions since being awarded the Certificate.

Non-degree candidates may apply for admission to the certificate program using the Virginia Tech Graduate School’s online application system found under “Admissions” at

Interested students must submit an official copy of their college transcript or diploma documenting receipt of a bachelor’s degree from a regionally accredited college or university with an acceptable grade point average mailed to the Virginia Tech Graduate School as part of the application process. Please contact us for specific instructions on applying online.

Application deadlines are as follows:

Fall: August 1st
Spring: January 1st
Summer: May 1st

Students who complete the graduate certificate are encouraged to continue their studies on their own in a master’s program at Virginia Tech. The credits earned as part of this certificate may be applied to the Master of Public Administration (MPA) degree. CPAP offers the MPA Program in Blacksburg, Alexandria, and Richmond, Virginia. Students who successfully complete all four courses in the Certificate program with a B average or better are not required to submit entrance test scores such as the GRE when applying for degree status to CPAP

The University Bursar is responsible for all tuition, fees, and student accounts. Their website contains extensive details on topics such as tuition and fees, deadlines, payment instructions, refunds, penalties, tax information, and more.

Tuition is applied at the time a student if officially registered in a course. Regardless of attendance or performance, students are responsible for tuition payment unless a formal request is made to be withdrawn and proper paperwork is submitted and approved. Tuition refunds follow a sliding scale.

Payment – Application fees (non-refundable) must be made before applications are processed. Graduate students may pay online by credit card or check. Students in courses awarding university credit will receive a bill via e-mail from the University Bursar for tuition and fees. Payments can be made by check, by money order, or online by credit card.

Virginia Residency – To qualify for Virginia Resident rates, students must meet a set of residency requirements and provide relevant documentation. All others pay non-Virginia resident tuition.

For More Information, Please Contact:

Stephanie Dean Davis
Phone: 804-980-5549

The courses comprising the graduate certificate were designed to provide a challenging, master’s level, “real world”-based educational opportunity in local government management and public policy. The courses engage faculty, practitioners, and graduate students in systematic research and study designed to improve the quality of local government management, policy making, and public service.

The four courses required for the certificate:

Explores the institutions and systems in which public administrators work, and the dynamics of public administration within the larger political, economic and social environment. Special focus on the local government management profession, the evolution of the council-manager government and the core ethical and democratic values of the profession. Review skills necessary for effective local government managers, including critical strategic thinking, communication, organizational and community leadership competencies. Explores career management approaches for the local government managers. Considers the implication of future trends in local government management and the profession. (3 hours, 3 credits)
An examination at an advanced level of a selected managerial process(s) in the public sector. This course will focus on local government human resource, financial management, information technology, and performance management processes that managers must use when working in local government organizations. Additionally, topics will review public procurement, risk management, safety management, franchise agreements, contracting for municipal services. (3 hours, 3 credits)
Examines the powers, structure, roles and responsibilities of the local government within the U.S. and Virginia federal system from the perspective of the local government manager. Considers the election process, state legislative process, state/local relations and intergovernmental relations that constitute important internal and external forces in the local management environment. Explores the state/local government delivery systems of public education, public safety, transportation, public health, social services, environmental quality, criminal justice, and public works and utilities, as well as other programs that are provided either partly of wholly by local governments. (3 hours, 3 credits)
This course will focus on local government management and community development. It will examine the local government management process that supports community and economic development, including the local and regional planning processes, growth management, urban design for creating livable communities, property law, and local government tools and strategies for securing economic and community development. In addition, it will focus on the managerial competencies required for leading the community and economic activities of local governments. (3 hours, 3 credits)
Courses offered in this program are taught by Virginia Tech faculty and qualified practitioners in the field of local government management. Their experience and knowledge plays a vital role in preparing students for the life of a local government manager.

Stephanie Dean Davis is the Director of the Graduate Certificate in Local Government Management with the Center for Public Administration and Policy at Virginia Tech. In this capacity, Ms. Davis manages the curriculum, student enrollment, and overall instruction for the local government management program. Prior to her position with Virginia Tech, she served as Vice President for Springsted, Inc. and worked with local governments in Virginia and North Carolina. In addition, Ms. Davis has served in local government for over 18 years as the Finance Director for Powhatan, VA, and Budget and Management Analyst for Chesterfield, VA. Ms. Davis has a Bachelors of Science degree in Economics from Virginia Tech, a Masters of public administration from Virginia Commonwealth University and is currently a Doctoral Candidate in Public Policy and Administration at Virginia Commonwealth University. Her research interests include organizational theory and collaboration theory in the context of local government.
Ken Chandler is the former City Manager of Portsmouth, Virginia, and began service in his position as Associate Director for Administrative Services Administration for the District of Columbia Department of Transportation on March 24th, 2014. A native of Southeastern Virginia, Chandler has a career in local government in Virginia and Texas that spans 25 years. Prior to Portsmouth, he was Executive General Manager for the City of Dallas, Texas, serving as executive liaison in the City Manager’s Office responsible for the coordination of high profile economic development projects for the nation’s ninth largest city.

In Virginia, he has served as Deputy County Manager for the Arlington County, Public Utilities Director for the City of Richmond, County Administrator for Charles City County, Human Resources Director for the City of Petersburg, Administrative Services Manager/Personnel Officer for the City of Hopewell, and Assistant to the County Administrator for Isle of Wight County.

He is a 1987 graduate of Morehouse College, Atlanta GA, holds a Master of Public Administration degree from Old Dominion University, Norfolk VA, and has completed several professional development studies including the Senior Executive Institute in Charlottesville. He is a certified member of the International City/County Management Association (ICMA), is the Southeast Region vice-President for ICMA and has served on numerous boards and task forces.

Kim Payne has been City Manager of Lynchburg, Virginia, since 2001. He has over 28 years in local government management experience, including County Administrator of Spotsylvania County, Virginia (1987-2000) and Assistant County Administrator of Spotsylvania County (1984-1987).
He is a member of the International City/County Management Association and Past President of the Virginia Local Government Management Association. He has a Masters in Arts from the University of Virginia and a Bachelors of Arts from Duke University.
Rob Stalzer has over thirty years of local government experience. He has been the Deputy County Executive of Fairfax County, Virginia since June 2000. As Deputy County Executive, Mr. Stalzer is responsible for emergency management, police, fire and rescue, public safety communications, public works and environmental services, planning and zoning, transportation, environmental coordination, the Public Safety Transportation Operations Center, neighborhood and community building initiatives and the County’s code enforcement strike team efforts. He serves as Deputy Director of Emergency Management and liaison to the Fairfax County Park Authority, Economic Development Authority, and Water Authority. Mr. Stalzer currently leads several countywide cross-functional teams, including the Strengthening Neighborhoods and Building Community Strategy Team, Environmental Coordinating Committee and Emergency Management Coordinating Committee. Recently, Mr. Stalzer provided leadership for a $250 million development project involving Fairfax County and the Commonwealth of Virginia. He is currently leading the County’s efforts to construct a $100M public – private mixed use transit oriented development project adjacent to the new Dulles Corridor Metrorail. He co-chaired the county’s pandemic flu planning efforts and led one of two Northern Virginia regional teams that were deployed to New Orleans in 2005 to assist with the city’s recovery from Hurricane Katrina. From 1988 to June 2000, Mr. Stalzer served as the Town Manager of Herndon, Virginia. From 1983 to 1988, Mr. Stalzer served as the Director of Planning and Zoning for Roanoke County, Virginia. He has a Master of Business Administration degree from Syracuse University, a Master of Regional and City Planning degree from the University of Oklahoma and a B.A. from Clark University. He is a graduate of the Senior Executive Institute of the University of Virginia, Weldon Cooper Center for Public Service. Mr. Stalzer has taught graduate and undergraduate level classes at George Mason University, Virginia Tech and Roanoke College. Mr. Stalzer is an ICMA credentialed manager (ICMA-CM), a member of the American Institute of Certified Planners (AICP) and a past president of the Virginia Local Government Management Association.
Gene Swearingen is an adjunct professor of public administration and also currently serves as the town manager of Garrett Park, Maryland. Mr. Swearingen earned his Master of Public Administration degree from the University of North Carolina in 1976. Previous to his most recent position with the Town of Garret Park, Mr. Swearingen served as town manager of Haymarket, Virginia from 2007-2012, was the director of the Office of Management and Budget for the City of Alexandria, Virginia from 2001-2002, as well as various other local government posts. Mr. Swearingen has also worked for various private-sector companies which offered contract services to local governments.
Professor, Center for Public Administration and Policy

Education: BA, Political Science, Cleveland State University, 1977; MA, PhD, Government & Politics, University of Maryland, College Park, 1982, 1984. Major Areas of Specialization: Public administration history, public administration and constitutionalism, public policy and environmental policy.

Dr. Cook’s SPIA profile

Courtesy Professor of Practice Dr. John Nalbandian is a professor of public administration at the University of Kansas and has also served as the Mayor of Lawrence, Kansas. Having earned his PhD from the University of Southern California in 1976, Dr. Nalbandian has focused his career on preparing students for careers in local government and has partnered with academic and professional organizations in many states to create more effective training programs for future local government managers. Dr. Nalbandian has been honored by the International City/County Managers Association (ICMA), the National Association of Schools of Public Administration and Affairs (NASPAA), and the National Academy of Public Administration (NAPA) for his work in furthering the education of local government administrators. Dr. Nalbandian worked in an unofficial capacity with the development and enrichment of Virginia Tech’s Local Government Management Certificate program for several years before beginning an official partnership in 2012.
Wyatt Shields has served as Falls Church City Manager since January 2007, previously serving as Acting City Manager and Assistant City Manager.
Prior to joining the City of Falls Church, Mr. Shields served as Town Administrator for five years in Scottsville, Va. Prior to working in local government, Mr. Shields worked on Capitol Hill on the staff of former U.S. Senator Charles S. Robb, and later worked for Dominion Virginia Power in its Office of Government Relations.
Mr. Shields earned a Bachelor’s degree from the University of Virginia and a Master of Public Affairs from the Lyndon B. Johnson School of Public Affairs at the University of Texas at Austin. He also completed the Senior Executive Institute leadership development program at the University of Virginia’s Weldon Cooper Center for Public Service in 2005.
Jack Tuttle has been City Manager of Williamsburg, Virginia, since February of 1991. He has over 32 years of local government management experience including work in Pensacola, Florida and City Manager of Gulf Breeze, Florida. He has been an International City/County Management Association (ICMA) Credentialed Manager since July of 2002. He is an officer in the Virginia Local Government Management Association and a member of ICMA. He has a BA from the University of North Carolina, and a Master of Public Administration from the University of Western Florida. Jack served as an Adjunct Professor at the University of West Florida MPA program from 1980-1991. He is a graduate of the Senior Executive Institute at the University of Virginia and has served on a number of boards including the Virginia Peninsula Solid Waste Authority and the Virginia Peninsula Regional Jail Authority.
Courses are broadcast to the Virginia Tech Commonwealth Campus Centers in Abingdon, Alexandria, Blacksburg, Charlottesville, Danville, Fairfax, Falls Church, Lynchburg, Richmond, Roanoke, and Virginia Beach. Students at remote sites participate via two-way videoconferencing. This approach allows the class to be taught around the state simultaneously giving more students the opportunity to participate in the program.

Abingdon, VA
Virginia Tech Southwest Center
P.O. Box 1987 – One Partnership Circle
Abingdon, VA 24210
Classroom: Room 143

Blacksburg, VA
Virginia Tech, Blacksburg
104 Draper Rd
Blacksburg, VA 24060
Classroom: varies

Danville, VA
Institute for Advanced Learning and Research
150 Slayton Ave
Danville, VA 24540

Falls Church, VA
Virginia Tech, Northern Virginia Center
7054 Haycock Road
Falls Church, VA 22043
Classroom: 103

Richmond, VA
Virginia Tech Richmond Center
2810 Parham Road, Suitye 300
Richmond, VA 23294
Classroom: 309

Virginia Beach, VA
Virginia Tech Hampton Roads Center
1444 Diamond Springs Road
Virginia Beach, Virginia U.S.A 23455
Classroom: 201

Alexandria, VA
Virginia Tech: SPIA Alexandria Campus
1021 Prince Street
Alexandria, VA 22314

Charlottesville, VA
Charlottesville City Hall, City Hall Annex
Neighborhood Development Services
Room 405
603 East Market St (605 East Market St – Main Entrance)
Charlottesville, VA 22902

Fairfax, VA
Fairfax County Government Center
12000 Government Center
Fairfax, VA 22035

Lynchburg, VA
Central Virginia Community College
3506 Wards Rd
Lynchburg, VA 24502

Roanoke, VA
Virginia Tech Roanoke Center
Roanoke Higher Education Center – Suite 701
108 North Jefferson Street
Roanoke, VA 24016
Classroom: 710