ELP alum Kelberg is part of White House Leadership Development Program

Executive Leaders Program alumnus Scott Kelberg is part this year’s 14-person cohort participating in the White House Leadership Development Program.

The program aims to cultivate senior executive talent trough tackling inter-agency challenges facing the federal government. Kelberg came to the White House from the Federal Emergency Management Agency, where he was most recently Assistant Director of the National Education and Training Division. He will return to FEMA when the fiscal year ends in September.

Scott Kelberg

After more than 20 years working in the federal government, 10 of those with FEMA, he was looking for a professional challenge when he applied for the program.

“This is an incredible learning opportunity to better understand how the center of government works, including development and execution of the Presidents’ Budget and the President’s Management Agenda,” Kelberg noted. “This program provides hands-on leadership training in collaborative, agency-wide working groups and councils. I am challenging myself in a completely new area.”

Established in 2014, the program accepts up to 20 people per fiscal year. Participants work on urgent, mission-critical projects necessitating collaboration and an “enterprise approach to deliver results.” Its goal is grooming a cadre senior talent, tackling complex problems and improving efficiencies.

Fellows spend approximately 80 percent of their time in a rotational assignment gaining on-the-job experience and approximately 20 percent of their time in leadership development programming.  Fellows also work with senior leadership of various agencies. For example, Kelberg’s cohort has had the opportunity to meet with and have candid conversations with executive and political leadership at the Pentagon, the Department of Homeland Security, and the Office of Management and Budget.

“By breaking down agency silos, fellows can tackle complex and challenging problems from a multi-agency perspective,” Kelberg noted. “This provides a rich experience and an excellent professional development opportunity for future executive leaders.”

For Kelberg the job is a world apart from his FEMA duties, but it is an experience that will be beneficial when he returns. The fellowship is similar to the ELP in that it aims to furnish leadership and policy development skills. He has been working on projects with the Chief Financial Officer on community grants management, audit resolution, technology solutions, data visualization, agency priority goals and cross-agency goals.

“I am honing similar leadership skills that I first learned in the Executive Leaders Program,” he said. “Each day I am working through challenges in team environments. I am improving my executive level capabilities to adjust, modify, and be flexible and patient to meet leadership objectives and to develop projects and assignments under a stressful environment with short timeframes.”

This isn’t the first time Kelberg has worked in an interagency environment. In 2011 he was detailed to the Department of Justice, working on joint projects with the Department of Homeland Security. Specifically, he worked as senior advisor for training at the Nationwide Suspicious Activity Reporting Initiative Program Management Office where developed the initiative’s training portfolio.

“The DOJ detail was within my realm of experience and knowledge base in that the subject matter dealt with law enforcement and intelligence training and the programs and policies at DOJ and DHS that surrounded them,” he said. “The WHLPD is working on Federal agency-wide programs within the auspices of the Chief Financial Officer community with a heavy emphasis on efficiencies, cost savings, and data analysis. The similarities are that both experiences have broadened my knowledge base, challenged me, and forced me to adapt quickly to new leadership and staff cultures and styles.”

Exposure to different federal departments will enhance his skill-set when he returns to FEMA.

“This is a challenge and something different,” he said. “I’m being tested every day as leaders we need to put ourselves out there and challenge ourselves to continually learn.”