Time Out for Mentoring with Al Vanderberg, Ottawa County, MI County Administrator

Posted on November 19, 2014

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Now Hiring: Mentors


Similar to how Frasier spun off from Cheers, ELGL has spun off our Quick Take series into Time Out for Mentoring. We’ve invited those who were named a mentor in our Quick Take series to answer two simple questions, “who are your mentors?” and “what does it mean to be a mentor?”

In our mind, mentoring is not defined by age. Generation X can just as easy mentor Baby Boomers on new technologies such as SeeClickFix or MuniRent as Baby Boomers can mentor Generation X on tips for advancing the local government career ladder.

Background Check

Al Vanderberg began his duties as Ottawa County Administrator in December 2003 which brought him back to his professional roots as he began his local government management career serving as an Administrative Intern in the Spring Lake Village Manager’s Office.

Prior to Ottawa County, Al served as Deputy County Administrator of Kent County, City Manager of South Haven, Assistant City Manager of Greenville, and Budget/Policy Analyst for Lenawee County. A native of Grand Haven and 1980 graduate of Grand Haven High School he graduated from the University of Michigan with a BA in Political Science, Michigan State University with a Master of Public Administration and also completed the Program for Senior Executives in State and Local Government at the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University.

Al has been involved in numerous professional activities including authoring articles on local government management in state and national publications. Al is a member of the International City/County Management Association and currently serves as President of the Michigan Local Government Management Association, Vice-President of the Michigan Association of County Administrative Officials and Chair of the West Michigan Strategic Alliance.

Time Out for Mentoring


by Alan G. Vanderberg

Connect: Blog, LinkedIn, Twitter

My first mentor was Eric DeLong who at the time was Village Manager of Spring Lake, MI and he hired me for a summer internship as an Administrative Intern.  My second mentor was Jerry Felix who at the time served as City Manager of Greenville, MI and he hired me to be the  Assistant City Manager.  This prepared me well to become the City Manager of South Haven and left there as the longest serving manager in their history.  My next mentor was Daryl Delabbio and I worked for him as Deputy County Administrator.  This set me up well for my current position, County Administrator of Ottawa County and if I am here in one year, I will be the longest serving Adminstrator in County history.  My point is that each boss was an outstanding mentor who helped prepare me for the next step on my management journey.

The role of a mentor in my opinion is to engage a person and using real life experiences, challenges, issues, and lessons from the school of hard knocks to help equip an up and coming talented person person to help them not only survive but thrive in public management.  I also view mentorship as a two way street where the mentor can learn much from the interaction as well.

Supplemental Reading

Time Out – Archives


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