Make an Impact: Become a 2021 White House Fellow

Oct 02, 2020 • Views -

Sponsored by the White House Fellows Foundation and Association

David Rockefeller – Founding Chairman of the President’s Commission on White House Fellowships:

“From your ranks have emerged presidential candidates, cabinet secretaries, admirals and generals, governors, senators and representatives, judges, corporate CEOs, university presidents and deans of prestigious graduate schools, non-profit executives and scientists. Without exception, Fellows have taken the time to lead and create organizations dedicated to the betterment of our nation, just as President Johnson and John Gardner had hoped you would.”

Today, there is 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 in our government alongside incredible people, all working for the betterment of the nation.

What Does It Mean To Be a White House Fellow?

Army General Martin E. Dempsey, 18th Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff meeting 2014-2015 White House Fellows

White House Fellows are extraordinary Americans, competitively selected by the President’s Commission on White House Fellowships, who have demonstrated remarkable achievement early in their careers and have a proven 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. The Fellows frequently meet with top leaders in public, private and non-profit sectors to discuss the policy-making process as well as ideas and issues concerning leadership and service. They also participate in a robust education program that includes conversations with a range of leaders, domestic and international policy trips, and first-hand leadership development with senior government leaders. 

The White House Fellows program is non-partisan and has been a fixture across Republican and Democratic presidential administrations. White House Fellows come from a variety of backgrounds and reflect the diversity that makes our country so great to begin with.

The White House Fellowship Experience 

2015-2016 White House Fellows the Obama Family’s pet dog, Bo.

  • Placements: Fellows are placed as advisors to senior White House staff, Cabinet Secretaries, and other top-ranking government officials. Fellows work on both short-term time-sensitive projects and longer-term strategic initiatives.
  • Education Program: The Fellows participate in bi-weekly off-the-record leadership roundtable discussions with policy, government and business leaders, which expands their knowledge of leadership, policy-making, and contemporary issues.
  • Domestic and International Policy Trips: Fellows take policy trips to explore U.S. policy in action both domestically and internationally. Recent trips have included South Korea, Japan, Los Angeles, and New York.
  • Fellowship Class: The Fellowship provides a cohort structure that allows you to bond with the other Fellows. Fellows participate in after-hours events, both fun and professional. They have played basketball on the “highest court in the land”, attended private tours of Air Force One, and had dinners with White House Fellows Commissioners and Cabinet secretaries. The entire year is designed to foster a lifelong commitment to each other and the alumni community.
  • Community Service: Community service plays a vital role in the program, and Fellows take part in service projects throughout the year. 

President Barack Obama: “This prestigious program has welcomed talented, engaged women and men to the Federal Government each year. Through their service, White House Fellows have gained valuable first-hand experience and a richer perspective on issues defining the times. Many have gone on to shape important debates and make tremendous contributions throughout our society – from the public sector to business and academia. This program continues to speak to what is possible when we set aside personal ambition in pursuit of the common good, and it offers a reminder that those who love their country can change it.”

Who Has Been a White House Fellow?

Former First Lady Michelle Obama with the 2016-2017 White House Fellows

White House Fellows come from a variety of backgrounds and reflect our nation’s diversity. More than 800 men and women from a variety of backgrounds have been selected as White House Fellows over the 55-year history of the program and the vast majority have gone on to make notable contributions in their communities, our country, and the world, including:

    • President of Echoing Green, Cheryl L. Dorsey
    • Senior Vice President and Chief Marketing Officer at IBM, Michelle Peluso;
    • Current Congresswoman from Kansas’s 3rd Congressional District, Sharice Davids; 
    • Current U.S. Secretary of Labor, Elaine Chao;
    • CEO of the Robin Hood Foundation, Wes Moore; 
    • CNN Medical Correspondent Sanjay Gupta; and,
    • Former Secretary of State General Colin Powell, who described the program as a “turning point” in his career.

To learn more about the fellowship experience, check out ProFellow’s interviews with 2014-2015 White House Fellow Marguerite Jimenez, PhD, Director of Special Initiatives, Washington Office on Latin America (WOLA) and 2015-16 White House Fellow September Hargrove, Vice President & Detroit Program Officer at JPMorgan Chase & Co.

Read more about other prominent White House Fellow alums.

Who Should Apply?

2017-2018 White House Fellows at the White House 4th of July Celebration

Selection as a White House Fellow is based on a combination of the following criteria:

  • A record of remarkable professional achievement early in one’s career.
  • Evidence of leadership skills and the potential for further growth.
  • A demonstrated commitment to public service.
  • The skills to succeed at the highest levels of the Federal government, and the ability to work effectively as part of a team.

These qualities, combined with the strength of one’s character, a positive attitude, and the ability to work well with others, are taken into consideration when selecting a class of White House Fellows. Competitive candidates should be able to demonstrate notable achievement early in their careers ‒ and a deep commitment to public service.

Eligibility Requirements

To be eligible to participate in the White House Fellows Program:

  • Applicants must be U.S. citizens.
  • Employees of the Federal government are not eligible unless they are career military personnel.
  • Applicants must have completed their undergraduate education by the time they begin the application process.
  • There are no formal age restrictions. However, the Fellowship program was created to give selected Americans the experience of government service early in their careers.

President Donald Trump: “As White House Fellows, you have humbly contributed your time and talents at the highest levels of public service. Your daily efforts have assisted me in achieving record results for the American People. I hope you take great pride in knowing that you played an integral role in improving policy and addressing matters of the highest concern to our Nation. I am grateful for your hard work and dedication.”


Program Dates for the Next Class

2019-2020 White House Fellows with General Colin Powell

Program Dates: August 2021 – August 2022

Deadline: Applications open on November 2, 2020. The deadline to apply is January 6, 2021 at 5pm EST.

Learn more about the application process and join one of our upcoming information sessions. 

Not ready to apply this year? Bookmark the White House Fellowship to your ProFellow account