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Founded in 1964 by Lyndon B. Johnson, the White House Fellows program is one of America’s most prestigious programs for leadership and public service. White House Fellowships offer exceptional emerging leaders first-hand experience working at the highest levels of the Federal government.
Selected individuals typically spend a year working as a full-time, paid Fellow to senior White House Staff, Cabinet Secretaries, and other top-ranking government officials. Fellows also participate in an education program consisting of roundtable discussions with leaders from the private and public sectors, and potential trips to study U.S. policy in action both domestically and internationally. Fellowships are awarded on a strictly non-partisan basis.
The mission statement adopted in 1964 by the President’s Commission on White House Fellowships:
“The purpose of the White House Fellows program is to provide gifted and highly motivated emerging leaders with some first-hand experience in the process of governing the Nation and a sense of personal involvement in the leadership of society.”
It is essential to the healthy functioning of our system that we have in the non-governmental sector a generous supply of leaders who have an understanding— gained first hand— of the challenges that our national government faces. At a time when people feel increasingly removed and isolated from the centers of power and decision-making, such leaders can help their fellow citizens comprehend the process by which the Nation is governed. The White House Fellows Program is designed to give superbly qualified young Americans precisely those experiences.
The White House Fellowship has been and continues to be a non-partisan program. This tradition has been strictly maintained during both Republican and Democratic administrations and, through the cross-fertilization of ideas and experience, has resulted in an enriched practice of public policy for more than five decades.
Declaring that “a genuinely free society cannot be a spectator society,” President Lyndon B. Johnson announced the establishment of the White House Fellows Program in the East Room of the White House in October 1964. Prompted by the suggestion of John W. Gardner, then President of the Carnegie Corporation, President Johnson’s intent was to draw individuals of exceptionally high promise to Washington for one year of personal involvement in the process of government.
The mission of the non-partisan White House Fellows Program, as envisioned by President Johnson, was, in his words, “to give the Fellows first hand, high-level experience with the workings of the Federal government and to increase their sense of participation in national affairs.” In return for the Fellowship year, President Johnson expected the Fellows to “repay that privilege” when they left by “continuing to work as private citizens on their public agendas.” He hoped that the Fellows would contribute to the nation as future leaders.
Today, the mission remains the same: to encourage active citizenship and service to the Nation.
Notable alumni include award-winning presidential historian Doris Kearns Goodwin, CNN’s Dr. Sanjay Gupta, Former Secretary of State and General Colin Powell, and more.
Within the Biden Administration, notable White House Fellow alumni include Secretary of the Navy Carlos Del Toro, Deputy Secretary of Homeland Security John Tien, Principal Deputy National Security Adviser Jon Finer, Deputy Assistant to the President and NSC Coordinator for Indo-Pacific Affairs Dr. Kurt Campbell, Deputy Assistant to the President & Deputy National Security Advisor for Cyber & Emerging Technology Anne Neuberger, and Senior Advisor for Equity to the White House COVID-19 Response Team Dr. Cameron Webb.
To learn more about the alumni of the White House Fellowship program, please visit the White House Fellows Foundation and Association website.
The program staff is available to provide assistance and answer questions about the White House Fellowship. The staff can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.