Local News

Fellowship Program Offers Special Training For Potential Politicians

Posted May 4, 2004

— A fellowship program, based in Wilmington, trains potential political candidates for everything from the city council to the U.S. Senate.

Chris Evans is not running for office, but she is learning how to run for office at the

North Carolina Institute of Political Leadership

.

"I was shaking when I first did it," she said.

Walt Devries, a former political consultant, is the mastermind behind the "politician school." More than 700 eager leaders have graduated.

"If you can't communicate your ideas in this society, you're just not going to win," he said.

The program is nonpartisan and nonprofit. An aspiring Knightdale town council candidate and a former member of the CIA are part of the class.

"Basically, we tell them to be themselves and then we help sharpen those skills," Devries said.

The program has been based in Wilmington for 17 years, but this summer, the heart of the operation moves to Raleigh.

"It is the capital. I think, from the very beginning, we felt it's ought to be there," Devries said.

It will also be a time to pass the torch. Former North Carolina State's political science professor Robin Dorff will take over the program after the move.

One of the most well-known graduates is North Carolina Secretary of State Elaine Marshall. The institute was the first of its kind in the country, and it has become a prototype for other programs. The new executive director hopes to have the institute up and running on North Carolina State's Centennial Campus by July 1.

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