In May, local community leaders will host two professionals from Indonesia for short-term assignments in their offices, as they participate in the U.S. Department of State-sponsored Professional Fellows Program. The exchange has been arranged by the International City/County Management Association (ICMA), the organization that develops and advances professional local government management worldwide. City Manager Mark Watson is a local member of the ICMA.

This year the Professional Fellows Program is providing professional development opportunities to up-and-coming leaders in the fields of legislative process and governance, media, and economic empowerment.  This international exchange program is sponsored by the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs, and in 2014, more than 400 foreign fellows, including legislators, journalists, entrepreneurs, NGO managers, community activists, and government officials will come to the United States under the Professional Fellows Program.  In return, more than 300 American participants will take part in reciprocal fellowship programs overseas this year under the program.  Some of the local organizations hosting the participants include: City of Oak Ridge, Staybridge Suites and local home hosts.

“I feel great honor and privilege that the City of Oak Ridge has been chosen to host the ICMA fellows, Irma Mutiahsari and Hera Nugrahayu from Indonesia”, said City Manager Mark Watson. “Our community has come together to provide our fellows with an applied understanding of our city.”

Through awards to 14 U.S.-based non-profit organizations and universities, including ICMA, professionals from approximately 50 countries and territories worldwide will get hands-on experience in public and private organizations across the United States in April and May.  These exchanges benefit the participating American institutions and expand networks of international cooperation on critical issues. 

At the conclusion of their fellowships, all participants will travel from their fellowship locations to Washington, D.C., where they will take part in the Professional Fellows Congress, June 4-6, 2014.  The congress marks the culmination of the exchange experience in the United States, providing a forum for participants to discuss best practices, meet other young leaders in their professions, and develop networks and concrete projects that they can implement upon their return home.  

The U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs supports exchange programs that increase mutual understanding between people in the United States and those from other countries.  Approximately 50,000 individuals take part annually in exchange programs managed by the U.S.  Department of State.

Media contact: Candice Brogan at 865-425-3546 or