Filed under: Human Resources
The summer is wrapping up for a group of college students and alumni of the City of Asheville Youth Leadership Academy (CAYLA) who are participating in the academy’s extension internship program. But they say the benefit of interning in their prospective fields has been invaluable, as has the interaction they have had with younger CAYLA participants.
The CAYLA program recruits high school students and connects them with paid summer internship programs in city departments and participating community non-profits and organizations. Throughout the summer and school year, students also participate in workshops that focus on topics like financial literacy and the college application process as well as take on community service projects.
The CAYLA initiative supports Asheville City Council’s desire to raise, educate and retain local students so they can become Asheville’s future professionals. Each year, CAYLA students earn thousands in scholarships for advancing their education.
With graduates of previous CAYLA classes now in college, program director Erika Germer saw an opportunity to continue that momentum with an extension program that creates paid internship opportunities for students returning home over the summer break.
When she reached out to the college students via emails and the program’s Facebook account, the interest was there. Six students are participating in the program, interning in city departments like Information Technology or with participating community organizations like the Mountain Area Health Education Center (MAHEC).
“It’s always good to have practice at being in a professional environment,” says Gio Figaro, who interns in both the City of Asheville’s Finance Department and at HomeTrust Bank. “It gives you great practical experience for the field and valuable networking opportunities.”
Figaro is beginning his junior year at UNC Asheville, where he is an accounting major and found the internships to be good matches. “I’m a meticulous, organized kind of a guy,” he says. Like the other CAYLA alum, he said that Germer’s assistance in locating an internship that is a good fit made a lot of difference.
“Ask her what you’re looking for and she’ll help you set it up,” he says.
Alex Mitchiner agrees. Mitchiner knew she wanted to get into law as early as the sixth grade. While participating in the CAYLA program as a high school sophomore, she interned at Pisgah Legal Services, and has spent this summer interning with local defense attorney David Budd. These experiences have reaffirmed her desire to pursue a career as a domestic attorney.
“These internships provided me with a lot of experience and helped me in my direction,” she says. During the school year, Mitchiner works in the Information Technology Department of Western Carolina University, where she is preparing to begin her sophomore year.
“I like staying busy,” she says. “It keeps me well rounded and balanced.”
For current CAYLA high-school students, the extension program participants provide a glimpse at what’s coming after graduation. College, especially, is on their minds, and that is a place where CAYLA has seen real successes.
As Germer points out, research indicates that less than 20 percent of first generation college students actually stay in college and earn a degree. For CAYLA alumni, that rate is more than 80 percent.
“CAYLA opens doors for students; it is up to them to make the most of their summer experiences,” Germer says. And the college students are happy to pass along what the experiences they have gained. “It is magic to watch them as they pass along their expertise and talents to the next generation.”
The extension program also gives the older students a new perspective as they work with the younger groups, helping to organize and present events like June’s Me2We conference at UNC Asheville. Me2We is an opportunity for CAYLA and other high school students to hear about and discuss issues like race and gender and explore how we approach such topics in the past, present and future.
“I was really impressed,” Figaro says. “A lot of them were willing to get into talking about details. They are deep thinkers and they care about real issues.”
More than 100 high school students participated in the event, and CAYLA extension members worked on organization committees, facilitated talks and kept the program on schedule.
“I like that (Me2We) included more than just CAYLA kids,” said Martel Jackson, a rising junior at NC Central University. A business major focusing in marketing, Jackson interned through the CAYLA extension with the Asheville-based business incubator Mountain Bizworks, where, among other accomplishments, she planned a seminar for entrepreneurs within the Spanish speaking community.
Jackson said the younger CAYLA participants approached the college students with questions about both college and their professional experiences.
“I think they are curious and want to know what the experience is like,” she says. “But they are more prepared than they think they are.”
The CAYLA program, she said, has been a big boost in her desire to become a small business owner, stemming from her internships as a high school student with the UNC Asheville sports marketing department, A-B Tech’s daycare, the City of Asheville Purchasing Department and more.
“I feel like I gained opportunities,” she says. “It put me light years ahead.”
Click here for more on the City of Asheville Youth Leadership Academy.
August 13, 2013
The City of Asheville is pleased to announce that Deputy Finance Director Eric Hardy and Asheville Fire Department Public Information Officer Kelley Klope have both been selected to attend the 32nd Leadership Asheville Class beginning in September.
Leadership Asheville, operated through UNC Asheville is an important resource to the community, with participants honing leadership and collaborative skills and making valuable community connections. That, says Deputy City Manager Jeff Richardson, allows CoA employees to bring quality leadership skills back into the organization and continue its commitment to the community.
“This program not only exposes key city staff to some of the most pressing issues and opportunities our community is facing, but also provides networking opportunities for program participants to make meaningful friendships with fellow participants from different organizations throughout the community,” Richardson said.
“Leadership Asheville is excited to once again have members of our city government enrolled in our core program,” said Brian Turner, Assistant Vice Chancellor at UNC Asheville. “Over the years the City of Asheville has sent over 30 people through the program, firmly establishing their commitment not only to our community’s success but also that of their employees.”
Hardy was hired to the City’s Finance Department as Controller in 2011 and currently serves as the City’s Deputy Finance Director. Klope joined the Asheville Fire Department in 1996 and achieved the rank of Fire Specialist Sr. in 2007. She serves as the department’s Public Information Officer.
For more information about Leadership Asheville, go to www.leadsershipasheville.org.
August 7, 2013
The City of Asheville was proud to participate with Buncombe County and UNC Asheville to present the “Realizing the Benefits of Inclusion and Diversity” conference held April 25 in conjunction with the YWCA Stand Against Racism.
The conference focused on the challenges and opportunities for expanding diversity in the workplace and in management roles in light of a rapidly changing population.
Participants took part in 20 break-out discussions on topics from mentoring to stereotyping, all of which are important issues facing the marketplace. Keynote speaker Dr. Robert Livingston gave a presentation on the influence of physical appearance, race and gender on the conscious and non-conscious process of leader selection.
“The conference was an opportunity to support the YWCA’s campaign as well as to share the research of Dr. Livingston with a broader audience of local employers,” says City of Asheville’s Human Resources Manager Derrick Swing. “The conference received immediate positive feedback, and we hope to collect more formal feedback that will help us in designing future opportunities for events like this one.”
“Realizing the Benefits of Inclusion and Diversity” would not have been possible without the help of Buncombe County, UNC Asheville, the Center for Diversity Education, the YWCA, AB Tech, MAHEC, ABCRC, and others.
Click here for more about the YWCA Stand Against Racism.
April 26, 2013
In 1961, as a civil rights movement swelled nationally, a group of high school students calling themselves the Asheville Student Commission on Racial Equality (ASCORE) set out on a campaign to peacefully desegregate Asheville’s lunch counters, libraries, pools and parks. Though the teens were the public face of Asheville’s own civil rights victories, they were given assistance and support by adults, parents and business owners who remained in the background. This month, members of that 50-year-old movement sat down at UNC Asheville with current high school students and talked about issues surrounding race, social equality and non-violent change.
The conversations were part of the two-day Me2We summer conference, held June 14 and 15, the first in a planned four-year series of events focusing on civic engagement organized by a partnership of the City of Asheville Youth Leadership Academy, the Center for Diversity Education and UNC Asheville’s AVID Summer Bridge.
The conference consisted of workshops and talks that ranged from self respect and school success to problem solving and conflict resolution, but a highlight was the opportunity to hear the stories and legacies of the members of ASCORE. Those testimonies told the tale of a group of teens who decided to stand up and challenge inequality.
“The kids in ASCORE, these were top students who got together and said ‘We’re going to make a difference in Asheville,’” said Al Whitesides, who participated in sit-ins and non-violent demonstrations.
For William Young, the protests were a part of life as a teenager. “It was just something we thought needed to be done. It was always about human dignity,” he said.
Students were able to share their thoughts with the civil rights pioneers on contemporary challenges to equality. Meanwhile, CAYLA alumni, all of whom have moved on to college since taking part in the academy, led workshops and team-building activities for the conference’s 100 participants.
The City of Asheville’s Educational Coordinator Erika Germer said the conference gave incoming CAYLA students the chance to see the academy’s alumni in pivotal leadership roles “Peer-to-peer mentoring and role modeling were key components of the conference design,” Germer said. “Seeing that kind of leadership in action inspires teens and shows them what is possible.”
Or as ASCORE veteran Etta Whitner Patterson put it, “Someone older than you has been down roads you haven’t been down. You never stop learning. The moment you become unteachable, you have failed.”
For more information about the City of Asheville Youth Leadership Academy, click here.
June 20, 2012
ASHEVILLE – The City of Asheville Youth Leadership Academy (CAYLA) fosters success stories for students year after year.
From 2008-2011, the total scholarship money awarded to CAYLA students was more than $400,000. In addition, 100 percent of CAYLA students in 2008-2010, as well as the 2011 graduating class have been accepted to college.
The below vignettes focus on the 2011 class, their career goals and what they’ve learned from their CAYLA internships this summer. CAYLA’s mission is to provide students with a meaningful summer work experience; leadership development through seminars and community service; and college preparatory activities, including yearlong academic support.
Since its inception in 2007, CAYLA has been nationally-recognized by the U.S. Conference of Mayors and the Harvard Kennedy School of Government. CAYLA students are chosen through a competitive application and interview process by a committee of local educators and human resources professionals. The program is supported in part by the I Have a Dream Foundation, HomeTrust Bank, Dixon Hughes Goodman PLLC, and McGuire Wood & Bissette.
To learn more about CAYLA, go to: http://1.usa.gov/pqNMLl
Spotlight on the 2011 CAYLA class:
Omar Alvarado and Ceante Hudson are CAYLA students interning in the city's IT Department this summer.
Omar is a rising sophomore at Asheville High School and this is his first year in CAYLA (City of Asheville Youth Leadership Academy). Omar’s first year of CAYLA has already been very beneficial for him. He’s working with the city’s Information Technology Services Department and his internship is directly related to the career he plans on doing in the future.
After high school, Omar plans to attend UNC Asheville or N.C. State University to major in computer engineering and to pursue a career as a computer engineer. Omar is grateful for the opportunity to be able to work in a department focused on his interests and he’s gaining a great deal of experience learning about virtual software and how to troubleshoot computers. He thinks this experience is preparing him to manage workplace obstacles and is also teaching him responsibility. He hopes that the CAYLA program continues until he graduates.
Ceante is a rising senior at Asheville High School and has been a member of the CAYLA program since 2009. Ceante is involved with the AHS band, the chess club, and ASPIRE, which draws from a diverse cross-section of people to inspire students to aspire for a better life. This summer, he is interning with the city’s Information Technology Services Department, as he did his first CAYLA year. He has enjoyed building strong relationships with the staff while gaining in-depth knowledge about computers. When he graduates from high school, Ceante plans to attend N.C. State University to major in computer engineering, his chosen career field. CAYLA has made Ceante’s career goals all the more attainable because his internship is directly related with the career he wants to pursue.
Kearra Brownlee is interning with Asheville Parks, Recreation and Cultural Arts for her CAYLA internship.
Kearra is a rising senior who has been a member of CAYLA (City of Asheville Youth Leadership Academy) for two years. She attends Asheville High School and is involved with Colorguard, Triple S (Sisters Striving to Succeed), F.Y.I. (For Your Information), the CTE Honor Society, the National Honor Society, and AVID (Advancement Via Individual Determination). After Kearra graduates she plans to attend a four-year university and major in computer science. After college, she would like to work as a computer tech and possibly attend graduate school to further her education.
During her two years with CAYLA, Kearra has enjoyed the program and has gained a lot from it. She is currently working with Asheville Parks, Recreation, and Cultural Arts Department and is quickly becoming an expert in Microsoft Excel, in addition to covering the front desk and many other miscellaneous tasks. Overall, Kearra thinks CAYLA is an amazing opportunity and encourages the city council to continue to support it for many years to come.
Jayln Folston is spending his summer as a CAYLA intern in the Water Resources Department.
Jayln is a rising sophomore at Asheville High School and is a member of the Asheville High Cougars football team. This summer he interned as a CAYLA student in the City of Asheville Water Resources Department in the Meter Services Division.
Jayln loves to challenge himself and does whatever he can to improve, both in and out of school. He is also a member of the track team at Asheville High, and currently holds a state championship ring that he proudly contributed to.
At school, Jayln takes all honor courses and is also in AVID (Advancement via Individual Determination), as well as the National Honor Society.
After he graduates, Jayln would like to continue playing football at higher levels, including collegiate. He enjoys studying world history and its various aspects. Jayln wants to learn more about our country and world. Jayln says his CAYLA internship has helped him to grow, excel, and improve as a student. He has enjoyed working with a diverse group of co-workers who taught him about teamwork, hard work, and knowing that one’s decisions really matter and do affect others. He looks forward to continuing with CAYLA in the coming years.
Jalen Freeman is readying for his junior year at Asheville High through his internship with CAYLA.
Jalen will start his junior year at Asheville High School this fall. He is on the football team as well as the indoor and outdoor track teams. Jalen is a math-oriented person who likes to work with his hands. When he graduates, he plans to enroll in a four-year college or university and major in mechanical engineering. With his degree, he plans to get a job in the automotive industry working with cars.
Jalen is enjoying his first year in the CAYLA program and likes the work he does. He splits his work week between the fleet maintenance and transit divisions. He has learned valuable skills in his time with the CAYLA program, such as how to communicate with co-workers and how to navigate the “hidden rules of the workplace.” All in all, Jalen thinks that CAYLA is a great program and is an amazing opportunity for local youth.
Jaquell Hines is interning with the fire department during his summer with CAYLA.
Jaquell is new to CAYLA this summer, and is interning with the Asheville Fire Department. This fall, Jaquell will begin his sophomore year at Asheville High School. He’s already looking forward to AVID (Advancement Via Individual Determination), a class that will assist him in preparing for college. Jaquell also enjoys art, history, and science.
At AFD, Jaquell has learned what it takes to be a firefighter and has a better understanding of what to do during an emergency situation. Jaquell also had the chance to join firefighters as they visited summer camps and taught children what to do when a fire occurs. CAYLA matters to him because it helps teenagers set goals for their future and gives them something productive to do with their time.
CAYLA intern Markes Jackson hopes to attend UNC Greensboro or Chapel Hill after his senior year at Asheville High.
Markes is a rising senior at Asheville High who has been in the CAYLA program for two years. He’s very outgoing in school, and enjoys being a part of AVID (Advancement Via Individual Determination), Sports Outreach, Aspire, and the football team. After Markes graduates, he plans to attend a four-year university, preferably at UNC-Greensboro or Chapel Hill. He has not quite decided the career he plans on pursuing in the future, but possibly wants to come back to Asheville after college and work for the city.
Markes is working for two departments this summer: Administrative Services and the Minority Business Office. Markes says his job is benefiting him because he’s thinking about working for the City of Asheville and his internship is giving him an inside look on what it would be like. CAYLA so far has been a great experience for Markes, and he is thankful to be given such an opportunity.
Abel Lomeli-Garcia is enjoying his CAYLA internship in the Building Safety Department this summer.
Abel is a rising junior at Asheville High. He is involved in cross country, indoor track, track & field, the Spanish Club, and orchestra. Despite his many activities, Abel is committed to his education: His report card has all A’s with the rare exception of a few B’s. After graduating from high school, Abel plans to attend UNC Chapel Hill and major in architecture with as many scholarships he can obtain. After college, Abel plans to further his education by earning a master’s degree to become a construction manager.
This summer, Abel has been working in the Building Safety Department, and has had the chance to visit the construction sites that the city is overseeing. He has learned the many safety features that need to be included in houses or buildings to ensure maximum security. He has also been diligently working in the office to advance his skills in Microsoft Excel. Abel thinks that CAYLA is a great program to do during the summer and believes it is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. Abel hopes the city can support this program for many years to come.
Manny Lomeli-Garcia has been interning with Public Works Streets Division crews this summer.
Emmanuel, whose friends call him Manny, is interning in the Public Works Department this summer. He is a rising sophomore at Asheville High school and plays on the football team. Manny plans to attend a four-year college and major in business. At this point, he is undecided about specifics but envisions himself as the CEO of a large corporation someday.
This is Manny’s first year in CAYLA and he’s been busy learning about the many functions and responsibilities of the streets division. He has had many opportunities to shadow the division’s employees and now has a much greater understanding of the services our city provides to its residents. Manny thinks CAYLA is “an amazing program” and is happy that he has had the opportunity to work alongside professionals. He is already a dedicated volunteer with Habitat for Humanity, and is also looking forward to giving back to the community with the other CAYLA students throughout the school year.
Kasia Maatafale is spending her CAYLA summer with staff in the Parks, Recreation and Cultural Arts Department.
Kasia is a rising senior at Asheville High School who has been in the CAYLA program for two years. She is involved with AP classes, AVID (Advancement Via Individual Determination), HOSA (Health Occupation Students of America) and is also a cheerleader. After she graduates high school, Kasia plans to attend college to become a pediatric cardiologist. She would also like to open her own school someday. She has always taken an interest in medicine and wants to be a doctor. Also she likes kids, so she combined all of these aspects and came up with this career path.
Kasia says CAYLA is giving her the tools she needs to have to fulfill her future plans. This year, Kasia is working with the Asheville Parks, Recreation and Cultural Arts Department and is enjoying her experience. Over all, Kasia thinks CAYLA is an amazing opportunity that is helping her to gain personal skills that will help her later in life.
Chris Wright, who is interning with the Asheville Fire Department this summer, hopes to one day be a music director.
Chris will start his senior year at Asheville High School this fall, where he is a member of MCJROTC, Aspire, and Strings. He plays on the golf team and is a former wrestler. Chris’ talents are also musical: He can play piano; stand up bass, electric bass, electric and acoustic guitar, and drums, nearly all of which he taught himself to play. He started out on bass in sixth grade with his strings class and has been playing bass ever since. He is also the music director at his church. Chris plans to attend a four-year college to major in music and minor in fire science. After college, he would like to become a well-known music director.
Chris is currently working with the Asheville Fire Department and he really enjoys it. He has learned about the many responsibilities firefighters have and about the technology involved in keeping people safe. Chris credits CAYLA with helping students like him to set future goals, practice their social skills, and expand their leadership potential. Chris hopes CAYLA will be around for many years.
August 8, 2011
Earlier this month, the City of Asheville kicked off the new year by kicking paper pay stubs in favor of e-mailed payroll info. The move, which grew out of a Business Technology Improvement Project passed by Asheville City Council in 2009, reduces paper use by the city and increases accurate databasing and record keeping.
According to City of Asheville Human Resources Analyst Carol Nguyen, approximately 800 city employees who utilize city email addresses received digital pay info on the first payday of the year. That will mean 800 sheets of paper saved every two weeks, or 20,800 sheets over the course of the year .
“This is a cost reduction to the city, as well as an advancement of its goals for sustainability,” Nguyen said.
Currently, employees receive payroll info through City of Asheville email addresses, but an enhancement of the system will soon mean employees can see their info by accessing the database directly. That step will mean the inclusion of City of Asheville staff who do not operate with city email addresses such as seasonal temporary employees. Eventually, vacation requests and sick days will be logged as well, a move that project head Eric LaRue says will further strengthen efficiency in the organization.
“We are greatly increasing our accountability and eliminating the opportunities for errors, which for a government can be as important as cost savings,” LaRue said.
Digitized pay stubs (most employees already receive their pay via direct deposit) is another step in the unveiling of the city’s emerging suite of business tech applications, including digital work orders and business license applications, that make up the cross-departmental Munis system. Information Technology Director Jonathan Feldman notes, “all of these moves increase the city’s ability to manage information and transactions without printing hard copies.”
January 26, 2011
The latest issue of Verve Magazine included City of Asheville Human Resources employee Carol Nguyen in its profile of 30 women under 30 who make positive strides in their fields.
The profile cites Nguyen’s work on technological steps the department is taking to more efficiently track information and move into paperless record keeping.
Click here for the full article in Verve Magazine.
January 10, 2011
In an organization of more than 1,000 people, speedy and accurate information flow means not only increased efficiency but also real dollars. That’s an underlying theme that emerges when City of Asheville employees talk about the recently launched technology upgrade that provides not only swifter access to data but also easier communication between city departments and city customers.
The Munis system purchased by the City of Asheville from Tyler Technologies grew out of a 2009 commitment by Asheville City Council to fund a Business Technology Improvement Project to replace the organization’s aging mainframe-based system with a state-of-the-art streamlined tech upgrade.
The new system is targeted to business transactions within the city’s financial, human resources, contract management, purchasing and inventory, and utility billing functions. Dramatically eliminating paper forms in favor of digital ones reduces the time spent on each step of a transaction such as a business license application, as well as the time it takes to navigate the approval process. In a summary he wrote for the City of Asheville’s E-News in 2009, Information Technology Services Director Jonathan Feldman noted that experts estimate the switch can save more than $3 in staff time and material costs per form.
“It reduces the staffing needed for these processes, and it reduces redundancy.” Feldman says, adding that more accurate and accessible data means that city departments can close revenue gaps that may have been difficult or impossible to find with a paper-based system.
The system has been deployed in all city departments, with department heads and employees meeting with the IT department and experts from Tyler Technologies to determine how best to apply the software in their departments. In January, the city’s payroll division will join the offices using the system, followed by utility billing in July.
And like the city’s MapAsheville GIS mapping system developed in 2006, the city’s use of the Munis system will continue to evolve as more and more applications for the technology emerge.
“It’s pretty massive,” Feldman says. “It’s not just IT doing this. It’s a huge collaboration. Each department has to take ownership of how it applies to their product.”
Development Services Director Robert Griffin praised the upgrade as a boon for his department, which is in charge of processes like construction permits and business licenses. Griffin says the Munis system cuts down on the time it takes for a business privilege license to be processed, and even sends him emails when there is a form that needs his attention.
“It allows us to be more efficient and more responsive to the outside customer,” he says.
November 5, 2010
Students from the City of Asheville Youth Leadership Academy volunteered their time and energy at the Eliada Corn Maze on Saturday, September 18, taking tickets for the popular maze, providing information to guests, cleaning up and helping out with the Kid’s Hay Maze and the Cow Train Ride. The event provided the youth with an opportunity to give back to the community, an important element of the CAYLA program. The annual corn maze raises funds for Eliada Homes, which provides services and therapeutic programs for area children.
Volunteering plays a critical part in the CAYLA program, says Erika Germer, Educational Programs Coordinator. “One of CAYLA’s aims is to teach its students about civic responsibility through community projects,” Germer says. “Since June, the students have completed 12 activities with an array of local organizations and agencies.”
This summer, the group held a day-long Olympics for children enrolled with the Vance Summer Camp, prepared two dinners at the ABCCM Women’s Shelter, assembled 1,200 snack packs at MANNA Foodbank, helped with a fundraiser for ChainFree Asheville, and tended the community garden at the Emma Family Resource Center.
“Many of the projects are planned and led by the students themselves, thereby allowing them to practice their leadership skills,” Germer says.
Since its inception three years ago, CAYLA students and alumni have accumulated more than 1,350 volunteer hours.
The City of Asheville Youth Leadership Academy program, envisioned in 2007 by Asheville Mayor Terry Bellamy and City Council, places students in meaningful summer internships with City departments and partnering organizations throughout Asheville, Germer says. The program also empowers its students to get involved with their community, and supports them through guidance and scholarships in their quest for a college education.
Last year’s CAYLA class earned $133,000 in scholarships for college.
“CAYLA is no doubt one of the finest programs any school has to offer,” says Asheville High junior Kasia Maatafale. “This is because it not only gives us paying jobs, but CAYLA helps us discover more about ourselves. We are taken out of our comfort zones, and given an opportunity to learn more about our community, and the world around us.”
Click here to learn more about the City of Asheville Youth Leadership Academy.
September 22, 2010
City of Asheville employees turned out on August 24 for a green transportation fair entitled “Put on Your Green Shoes.” The event was geared toward familiarizing city employees with the city’s green fleet of low- and no-emission vehicles, including bikes, an electric smart vehicle and a compressed natural gas car, as well as to learn about and sign up for alternative transit options like carpooling.
Participating employees were also invited to receive free cholesterol, glucose and chiropractic screenings, noted Rachel Doebber of the city’s Office of Sustainability, since changing transportation habits often mean increased activity and improved health.
The event was one in a series of workshops presented for city employee’s in the effort to decrease emissions in the City of Asheville. Several city departments and divisions were in attendance, including the Office of Sustainability, Health Services, Fleet, and Transportation.
August 26, 2010