“A genuinely free society cannot be a spectator society … Freedom, in its deepest sense, requires participation. It requires full and zestful, knowledgeable participation.”President Lyndon B. Johnson
President Johnson spoke these words when he founded the White House Fellows program.
Today, they remain a call to action for all Americans who seek to better themselves, their communities, and the lives of people across the globe. That is what being a White House Fellow is all about: the opportunity to serve our government alongside incredible people, all working to make the world a better place.
That’s why we are excited to launch the application for the 2016-2017 class of White House Fellows and we invite Americans who want to make an impact to apply!
The application will be available from November 2, 2015 to January 12, 2016. Visit www.whitehouse.gov/about/fellows to learn more.
What is a White House Fellow?
White House Fellows are extraordinary Americans, selected by the President’s Commission on White House Fellowships, who have demonstrated remarkable achievement early in their careers and have a commitment to service. During their year in Washington, Fellows are placed as advisors to senior White House staff, Cabinet Secretaries, and other top-ranking government officials. They also participate in a robust education program that includes conversations with a range of leaders and skill-based leadership development sessions. It is an extraordinary year where Fellows are pushed outside their comfort zones and immersed in the study of leadership.
How did the White House Fellows program begin?
Over 50 years ago, John Gardner, then President of the Carnegie Corporation and a prominent civic leader, proposed an experiment in leadership development for the nation’s young talent. Through this ambitious plan, he hoped to ensure that future generations of Americans could rely upon the leadership of “a reservoir of able men and women with more than ordinary comprehension of government and more than ordinary willingness to serve.” This soon became the basis of President Lyndon B. Johnson’s establishment of the President’s Commission on White House Fellowships in 1964.
Who has been a White House Fellow?
More than 700 men and women have since participated in the White House Fellows program and have gone on to make notable contributions in their communities, our country, and the world, including Pulitzer Prize-winning author and historian, Doris Kearns Goodwin; former CEO of J.C. Penney, Mike Ullman; chairman of NBCUniversal International Group and Telemundo Enterprises, Cesar Conde; CNN Medical Correspondent Sanjay Gupta; and former Secretary of State General Colin Powell, who described the program as a “turning point” in his career. In addition, the alumni community includes CEOs, teachers, social entrepreneurs, scientists, lawyers, current and former members of Congress, and founders of nonprofit organizations. Through this rich diversity of people, the Fellows family is united by an enduring commitment to public service.
Why apply now?
It is an exciting time for the Fellowship! The 2016-2017 class has the chance to witness a fascinating part of our democracy – the transfer of power from one administration to the next. In the past, this has been a rich experience for Fellows resulting in amazing opportunities to serve. We are proud that the White House Fellows program is non-partisan and has been a fixture of nine presidential administrations – five Republican and four Democratic.
We all have a responsibility to continue this tradition and develop the next generation of leaders. We ask everyone to help us shape the future of the country by becoming a Fellow, by spreading the word about the program, or simply encouraging the emerging leader in your life to apply for this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.
We invite you to visit our website for more information and complete our application, which remains open until January 12, 2016, at www.whitehouse.gov/about/fellows.
Jennifer Yeager Kaplan is the Director of the President’s Commission on White House Fellowships.