Rifle City Council Member Sean Strode spends three weeks at Harvard | PostIndependent.com

Rifle City Council Member Sean Strode spends three weeks at Harvard

Rifle City Council member Sean Strode rests his arms on a Harvard Kennedy School sign in Cambridge, Massachusetts.
Submitted/Sean Strode

Rifle City Council Member Sean Strode was one of 60 people across the U.S. to be recently selected to attend Harvard University’s John F. Kennedy School of Government this summer. 

The opportunity is made possible via a $16,000 scholarship offered by the Gates Family Foundation’s Harvard Fellows program. The Colorado-based philanthropic organization rewards local and state government officials who apply with a chance to attend Harvard to delve into the most pressing issues facing government bodies across the U.S.

In June, Strode joined people like New York Police Department officials and Georgia State legislators in analyzing case studies and decision-making processes to be applied back home.

“We have covered everything from crisis management, to politics, to state and city finances,” Strode said. “I think of it almost as a highly accelerated master’s in public administration.”

Strode is now in his second term on Rifle City Council (2017-2021, 2021-present), and since then some of the biggest challenges facing local leaders in Western Garfield County are infrastructure and housing development. His goal is to use the new tools he harvested through three weeks at Harvard to have the city better situated to meet these demands. 

“I think we’re a growing city, and I think the goals are to grow in a smart way,” Strode said. “That means good zoning, that means good public safety, that means good transportation options for the city.”

“A lot of the things that are on our minds revolve around roads, infrastructure safety. As we have new residents, we want to make sure that it’s a positive experience for everybody.”

Strode, 45, is originally from Wisconsin, having moved to Rifle with his wife, Angela Aibner Strode, in 2012. In addition to his seat on Rifle City Council, Strode previously sat on the Rifle Planning and Zoning Commission and volunteered on various local boards.

Strode now joins former Rifle City Manager Matt Sturgeon (2013-2017) as officials from Rifle to attend the Gates Family Foundation’s Harvard Fellows program.

“I really think that this opportunity levels it up significantly to where not only are you doing the best you can, but you’re a lot more equipped to make those decisions,” Strode said. “I think I’m going to have the lessons that I’ve learned from this for a long time.”

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