A Professional Development Program for Entry-Level Public Servants

The Program

Many of our nation’s most respected executives, in both the public and private sectors, cite the support, influence and encouragement of a mentor as a contributing reason for their success. As an organization dedicated to grooming Black administrators for the challenges of senior management positions in the public sector, the National Forum for Black Public Administrators is firmly committed to fostering mentoring relationships that will increase career opportunities for the “next generation of Black public managers.”

With this commitment in mind, in 1987 NFBPA launched the Mentor Program, a unique program designed to positively impact the professional development of emerging public administrators. The program is an intensive, eight-month initiative with a two-fold focus. First, emphasis is placed on skills building, with specialized workshops offered during two group meetings. The second, and equally important, focus is embodied in informal interaction between mentors and protégés throughout the program period.


Annually, a search is conducted to identify up to twenty aspiring public managers who show great promise of achieving executive positions in public service. NFBPA will match each of these professionals or “protégés” with a seasoned Black executive. NFBPA has identified a pool of highly successful Black public officials who are eager to share the insight and wisdom acquired from many years in the management ranks, with younger, career-minded professionals who aspire to achieve executive positions in public service. Following the identification of the protégés, mentors are selected from the pool and matched on a one-to-one basis with each protégé. Protégés selected to participate in the Mentor Program retain their jobs and professional responsibilities during the course of the program. Whenever possible, protégés are matched with mentors who live and work within a 50-mile radius, thus supporting frequent face-to-face interaction and telephone meetings.

  • Bachelor’s Degree (required)
  • Master’s Degree (preferred)
  • Minimum of two years professional work experience, preferably in an administrative capacity
  • Demonstrated participation and involvement in community, civic, professional and social activities
  • Interest in and commitment to achieving an executive position in the public sector

Persons selected to participate in the Mentor Program will be required to complete a number of important tasks. At a minimum, the following is required:

  • Demonstrated interest in and commitment to developing and sustaining a mutually-supportive relationship with a mentor
  • Commitment to developing a detailed, individualized work program and strategic career plan
  • Willingness to undertake and complete a research project on a problem facing your community
  • Availability to attend kick-off and mid-year workshops and fully participate in group discussion
  • Submission of monthly status reports on the progress achieved in the mentoring relationship
  • Commitment to schedule and attend frequent “team meetings” with a mentor

Among the benefits of participation in the Mentor Program are the following:

  • Unique access to and the opportunity to interact with a prominent local government executive on a one-to-one basis
  • Sage advice and counsel from someone who’s “been there”
  • The opportunity to develop a strategic career plan with the assistance of a successful executive
  • Heightened awareness of career opportunities in the public sector
  • The opportunity to network with Black professionals from across the country

Funding for the Mentor program is provided by the NFBPA. Participants are expected to pay a fee, which subsidizes partial costs associated with lodging, programming and group meals. There is a $200 student fee and a $400 non-student fee for program participants. Participants are also expected to assume the costs of their own travel to the orientation and mid-year training sessions, and assume travel and lodging costs for attendance at the FORUM – NFBPA’s annual conference. The Mentor Program Graduation is held in conjunction with the conference. All local and miscellaneous expenses associated with the training sessions and the annual conference is the responsibility of each participant. Persons selected to participate in the Mentor Program will be required to join the National organization and maintain a minimum one-year membership for the duration of the program.

Recruitment & Selection Timetable

March – July 15
Recruitment and solicitation of protégé applications

July 30
Application deadline

Selection of protégés; notification of decision to applicants

Kick-off/Orientation Program, Washington, DC

Mid-Year Workshop, Washington, DC

Mentor Program Recognition Ceremony