Fellowship Openings

Developing a Strategic Plan for a Smart, Connected City

Project: Developing a Strategic Plan for a Smart, Connected City

Agency: Los Angeles City Council

Location: Los Angeles, CA


 The Los Angeles Bureau of Street Lighting (BSL) is a national leader in adopting technologies that increase safety, save money, reduce energy usage and use innovation to improve the quality of life for the citizens it serves. BSL, the second-largest U.S. municipal street lighting system with 220,000 street lights it operates across 500 square miles and a budget of more than $65 million, began replacing high-pressure sodium bulbs with energy-efficient LEDs eight years ago. In 2015, it began retrofitting street lamps with technologies that allow cloud-based remote monitoring and control—the largest retrofit of its kind, which has inspired other cities.  The BSL also began converting their poles to “smart” poles by working with telecommunication companies and others to equip street lights with wireless technologies to support faster communication and enable the Internet of Things (IOT) to expand (~3000 poles by end of FY18/19). On 132 poles thus far, BSL has installed electrical vehicle charging stations.

As part of Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti’s Smart City initiative, BSL is committed to continue adding new technologies that will transform its street lights into multipurpose nodes equipped with Wi-Fi, USB charging stations, CCTV cameras and solar panels that allow BSL to sell energy back to the grid. Soon, these “smart poles” will be able to communicate with other infrastructure, monitoring traffic patterns and sending alerts to traffic signals; directing drivers to available parking spaces; and sensing urgencies like earthquakes and gun shots, then notifying 911 and other emergency systems.

To be successful in the increasingly important role it plays in connecting Los Angeles and its citizens, BSL will need to define its objectives and direct its activities more deliberately by developing a comprehensive strategic plan. It also seeks to increase outreach to communities to gain feedback about needs and increase awareness of new services. To support this work, BSL will partner with FUSE Corps to house an executive fellow for one year who will help devise a strategic plan. The fellow will also create a vision statement that incorporates community input and addresses future goals for BSL. In this way, the fellow will help BSL effectively deploy Smart City innovations and target other efforts, saving money, increasing safety, and connecting Angelenos with services that improve their lives.



The following provides a general overview of the proposed fellowship project. This project summary and the potential deliverables that follow will be collaboratively revisited by the host agency, the fellow, and FUSE staff during the first few months of the fellowship, after which a revised scope of work will be developed and agreed upon by the fellow and the host agency.

Starting in April 2019, it is proposed that the FUSE Fellow will begin becoming acquainted with BSL’s operations and programs and its interactions with other City entities and the public. The fellow will leverage social and communication skills in meeting and establishing relationships with the Director of BSL and other managers and soliciting their views. The fellow will research best practices among other street lighting and Smart City programs.  A degree of familiarity with financing will also enable to the fellow to gain an understanding of BSL’s funding models.

Using strategic expertise and consensus-building skills, the fellow will then be able to move quickly to work with BSL leadership in laying the groundwork for a strategic plan that will further the Bureau’s core mission and guide its implementation of smart technologies. Concurrently, the fellow will seek ways to engage communities served by BSL—comprising 15 district councils that encompass 99 neighborhood councils— and obtain feedback about their needs, using data and presentation skills to organize and present their input to BSL management.

Turning to the execution phase, the fellow will draw on creativity and flexibility along with skills in strategizing, planning, goal-setting, organization and written communication to work in concert with BSL leadership in designing a strategic plan, and creating a vision statement incorporating stakeholder views, including those of disparate communities. By providing BSL with a roadmap for its short-term efforts and an outline for its long-term objectives, the fellow will help BSL implement Smart City innovations strategically and tailor all of its services more precisely to LA’s communities, connecting citizens and making it safer and easier to move around the city.

  • Become familiar with BSL operations, stakeholder perspectives and best practices — Establish a close working relationship with the Director, who will act as the project lead, and meet with BSL and other City managers to gain an understanding of BSL needs, challenges and objectives. Determine best practices by conducting research into strategic plans of other City public works bureaus, other large cities’ street light systems, and Smart City initiatives in Los Angeles and elsewhere. Assess existing information about individual communities’ needs. Learn about BSL’s primary funding apparatus, which is based on taxpayer assessments, and any challenges that might be imposed by City and state laws and regulations governing policy changes
  • Oversee first stages of creating a strategic plan — After gaining an understanding of stakeholder perspectives, assess viability of approaches and synthesize into a cohesive and comprehensive proposed strategy. Determine best ways to most effectively carry out objectives including the necessity for BSL to fulfill its primary function of constructing and maintaining street lights that ensure and improve vehicle and pedestrian safety; finding innovative solutions to the challenge of copper and power theft; and installing smart technologies throughout LA. Ensure alignment of proposed smart technology strategies with Mayor Garcetti’s Smart City principles and timetable. Assess potential impact on cost and energy savings and other benefits and identify challenges. Determine optimal approaches for navigating bureaucratic barriers to implementation. Devise options for branding and marketing strategies to increase awareness of BSL efforts and smart capabilities .
  • Establish community outreach and collect information for a vision statement —   Research and determine methods of soliciting feedback from the city’s many individual neighborhoods about their street lighting needs.  Complete information ensuring representation of varied populations,  which range from higher-crime neighborhoods that may request greater numbers of street lights and prompt repairs of broken lights to ethnic communities that want culture-specific designs. Explore and identify funding solutions for needs in public spots like bus stops that are not based on  taxpayer assessments.  Identify legislative or other  challenges and provide an evaluation of benefits. Build a presentation of options for a vision statement.
  • Create a strategic plan and vision statement — Working closely with the BSL team, build consensus around what BSL and the City hope to accomplish in the short term and strategies for carrying out their objectives. Construct a detailed strategic plan that sets out defined goals, specific actions, organizational structures, timetables for implementation, methods for measuring outcomes and steps to take in executing a marketing and branding strategy. Write an eloquent document communicating the strategic plan that can be shared internally, with the City, other bureaus and departments, and the public. (While community feedback will primarily be presented in the vision statement, integrate into the strategic plan any appropriate insights.) Write another clear and compelling document reflecting agreed-upon aspects of the long-term goals for BSL that will serve as its vision statement. Create buy-in and momentum for both the strategic plan and vision statement.


  • Norma Isahakian, Director, LA Bureau of Street Lighting
  • Megan Hackney, Assistant Director, LA Bureau of Street Lighting
  • Kerney Marine, Assistant Director, LA Bureau of Street Lighting


  • At least fifteen years of professional experience in strategic planning, with some knowledge of technology and financing. Experience in urban planning, architecture, or public relations would be beneficial.
  • Superior critical thinking and analytical skills.
  • Ability to synthesize complex information into clear and concise recommendations.
  • Ability to relate to a wide variety of diverse audiences with strong emotional intelligence and empathy.
  • Excellent stakeholder engagement skills and the ability to use facilitative leadership techniques to coordinate stakeholder activities.
  • Self-motivated, goal-oriented, entrepreneurial leader who can also be an independent worker.
  • Persistent in obtaining information and creatively resourceful in identifying solutions to complex problems.
  • Ability to create direction and movement within potentially ambiguous environments.
  • Exceptional written and verbal communication skills with an ease in public presentations.
  • Understands the need for solutions to support all people in a community regardless of race, religion, gender, immigration status, or ethnicity.


Click the link below to upload a resume and complete the online application questions in lieu of a cover letter. The application process will allow you to indicate interest in more than one fellowship opportunity. You only need to submit one application. Interested candidates are encouraged to apply as soon as possible, as selections will be made on a rolling basis and specific opportunities may close quickly.

A FUSE Fellowship is a 12-month engagement requiring fellows be primarily committed to their partnership with the government agency throughout the year to ensure the success of their project. Fellows are retained as independent contractors of FUSE Corps and are paid an annual stipend of $90,000 through monthly installments. This commitment begins on April 29, 2019 and ends April 27, 2020.

The FUSE Fellowship is an equal opportunity program with a core value of incorporating diverse perspectives. We strongly encourage candidates from all backgrounds to apply.