Home > Government > White House Fellows

A Report from the White House Fellows
Winter 2003 VOLUME 27 Number 1
From the Director
White House Fellows Foundation Honors Marsha Johnson Evans with Legacy of Leadership Award
White House Fellows Travel to New York
Education Calendar
WHF Association Meets in Washington, D.C.
Sign-up to Read Applications
White House Fellows Pride
Where Are They Now?
Mark Your Calendars!


In keeping with the tradition of the White House Fellows Program, the 2002-2003 class has maintained a demanding schedule during their initial four months of the Fellowship year. The Fellows' first quarter concluded on a high note with their first meeting with President George W. Bush in the Roosevelt Room on December 12, 2002. The meeting with President Bush lasted nearly an hour, with deep and probing questions from the class on the topics of leadership and service. In fact, the questions stimulated so much discussion on the part of the President, that there was only time for about half of the class to pose questions. The alumni would have been proud of the class!

President Bush meets with the White House Fellows in the Roosevelt Room. As I was setting up the room prior to the meeting, I heard the President walk by and comment that meeting with the Fellows is one of his favorite things to do. In the coming months, the Fellows will have future meetings with the President, as well as an opportunity for individual and class photographs in the Oval Office.

The same week that the Fellows met with the President, they also met with Secretary of State Colin Powell ('72-73), White House Chief of Staff Andrew Card, and went on a tour of the State Department Diplomatic Reception Rooms. The Fellows remarked that the week was quite memorable o for them.

The Fellows and their guests enjoyed visiting with the President and Mrs. Bush during the White House Holiday Party on December 17, 2002. As the Fellows and their guests were photographed with the President and Mrs. Bush, the President commented that the Fellows are doing a great job!

Alumni Rally to Recruit Applicants
As I mentioned in my recent email message, I am so pleased with the enormous effort by the alumni to recruit applicants. One of the highlights of the alumni recruiting efforts was the program's first-ever live recruiting videoconference and webcast. Kien Pham ('85-86) and Julia Vindasius ('95-96) spearheaded the event, and have set a new standard for recruiting!

Thanks to their efforts and the generosity of the James A. Baker III Institute for Public Policy at Rice University, many individuals were provided with an in-depth overview of the White House Fellows program. The session featured Ambassador Edward Djerejian, Director of the Baker Institute, Congressman Joe Barton ('81-82) and Bud McFarlane ('71-72) from Houston, as well as Marty Evans ('79-80) and myself, via videoconference from the White House. Participants asked a variety of questions and expressed strong interest in applying for the program.

In addition to this first-rate recruiting effort, alumni across the country have worked hard to meet individually with applicants, reach out to various organizations, obtain media coverage of the program, enhance our recruiting materials, and host information sessions. In addition to the alumni whom I mentioned in my recent recruiting update email message, I also would like to thank Scott Gould ('93-94), Bob Joss ('68-69), Terrence Kelly ('97-98), Tom Leppert ('84-85), Tom Saponas ('86-87), Leigh Warner (89-90), George Wills (69-70), Lance Wyatt (99-00), and Diane Yu (86-87) who have undertaken recruiting efforts.

I would like to recognize the alumni who gave their time to serve as class group leaders - Joan Abrahamson ('80-81), Janet Abrams ('94-95), Maggie Belknap ('92-93), Audrey Choi ('96-97), Carlos Del Toro ('98-99), Sonny Garg ('99-00), Bill Hagerty ('91-92), Jon Jennings ('97-98), Gaynor McCown ('93-94), Dave Moore ('96-97), and Ann Rondeau ('85-86). We hope that organizing the alumni recruiting by class results in an increase in the diversity and number of quality applicants.

Also noteworthy are the recruiting contributions from the current class of Fellows. Cesar Conde ('02-03) and Cesar Aristeiguieta ('02-03) along with their principals - Secretary of State Colin Powell ('72-73) and Secretary of Health and Human Services Tommy Thompson - invested their time to help develop a broadcast piece on the Fellows program, which aired on Hispanics Today on December 6, 2002. The show provided a glimpse into the day-to-day work of a White House Fellow, while Secretary Powell and Secretary Thompson discussed how their Fellows are contributing to the Nation. Secretary Powell also discussed at length how the program impacted his life. At the end of the broadcast, viewers were encouraged to apply and provided with contact information for the program.

Our WHF Commission Chair, Julie Nixon Eisenhower, has been doing her part to raise awareness of the program as well. During her recent taped appearance on the Larry King Live Show on January 1, 2003, Julie discussed the Fellows Program, focusing on the leadership and service aspects of the program and the Fellows' involvement in assisting with 9/11 response efforts. Larry told Julie that he had met with the Fellows himself in the past and was quite impressed. Unfortunately, this portion of the interview did not make it to the broadcast edition of the show. Nonetheless, we thank Julie for her efforts to promote the program!

WHF Commissioner Pat Noonan also lent a hand to increase awareness of the White House Fellows Program. This past September, Pat invited the Fellows to attend a reception hosted by the National Geographic Society, Eastman Kodak Company, and the Conservation Fund. At the reception, Pat recognized the Fellows, their work, and the program to an audience of more than 100 corporate executives.

We continue to be pleased with the amount of traffic we are seeing on the Fellows web site. During the recruiting season, we tracked close to 35,000 hits on the home page and over 25,000 visits to the application page.

We also are anxious to see the results of our strategic recruiting communications to key individuals, groups, and companies. This recruiting season, we reached out each month to a wide variety of about 1,000 organizations to promote the program and application deadline. Included in this effort were communications with hundreds of leadership organizations across the country - which is fertile ground for finding future leaders.

Gearing Up for Selection
In preparation for selecting the next class of Fellows, we have 14 reading groups set up across the country during the month of February to review and grade applications. Readers will note that we are adding some further definition to grading in an effort to bring more continuity and uniformity to the process. Alumni who have read applications know that different standards are applied to the grading system, which creates challenges in selecting the best applicants. You'll find the reading schedule on page 5 in this newsletter. Thanks in advance to all alumni who are hosting reading groups and volunteering to read!

Strong Work Placements
I am pleased to report that the work placements are substantive and high level. I have been working closely with each Fellow and met with Principals to ensure that the placements are running well from both the Fellows' and agencies' standpoint.

A few examples of the outstanding work that is underway:

  • At the Department of Treasury, David Carmel ('02-03) is working on legislation to reduce medical errors and to reform Medicare. He also has written speeches on the financial war on terrorism and helped prepare briefing materials for Secretary-designate Snow.
  • At the Department of State, Cesar Conde ('02-03) regularly attends Secretary Powell's ('72-73) senior staff meeting and recently accompanied the Secretary to the United Nations. In coordination with Under Secretary Charlotte Beers, he is developing recommendations for enhancing U.S. public diplomacy abroad, including public-private sector partnerships and the potential creation of interactive games and documentaries for teens.
  • At the USA Freedom Corps, Heather Graham ('02-03) is working on several inter-agency initiatives to promote youth achievement and is also developing plans for a project to promote preventive health by placing volunteers in high need communities to conduct education and risk screenings. She recently briefed Surgeon General Carmona on the initiative and also prepared briefs for President Bush on elements of the Freedom Corps youth achievement agenda.
  • At the Office of Homeland Security, Jon Spaner ('02-03) is designing and coordinating the Office's revised organizational structure. He also has penned numerous speeches for Governor Tom Ridge and Admiral Steve Abbot.
  • At the National Security Council, Dan Sullivan ('02-03) participated in a two-week trip with U.S. Trade Representative Zoellick to Australia, Singapore, the Philippines, and Indonesia. He also was one of three NSC staff members responsible for compiling the President's briefing materials for the October 2002 APEC Summitt.

Affiliations Providing Opportunities
We have invested much time in cultivating affiliations with various groups to enhance the Fellowship experience and to promote the program. This includes:

  • Continuing our affiliation with the Supreme Court Fellows, which allows Fellows to attend Supreme Court oral arguments and meet with most of the Justices.
  • White House Fellows and guests with NBC's Tom Brokaw at the Eisenhower Institute Annual Award Dinner Beginning an affiliation with the Eisenhower Institute. One of the functions the Fellows attended was the Eisenhower Institute's annual Distinguished Public Service Award dinner on November 18, 2002. Tom Brokaw of NBC News was the honoree. More than 450 supporters of the Institute attended this popular black-tie gala in Georgetown. Additionally, White House Fellows Program brochures were included in the "goody bags" distributed at the event.
  • Continuing our affiliation with the Center for the Study of the Presidency. The Fellows participated in the Fall Fellows Conference in Washington, D.C. on November 1, 2002. Some of our Fellows attended the luncheon keynote address on the subject of peacekeeping operations.
  • Continuing our affiliation with the Washington Industrial Roundtable. The Fellows met with the business leaders at the Washington Industrial Roundtable luncheon on November 13, 2002. At this monthly gathering of corporate Washington representatives, Fellows had the opportunity to discuss how businesses influence the public policy process.
  • Continuing our affiliation with the American Academy of Achievement. The Fellows have been invited again to attend the International Achievement Summit to be held in Washington, DC in May 2003. Last year at this Summit, the Fellows met with Hamid Karzai, Henry Kissinger, Mikhail Gorbachev, Sam Donaldson, Bill Clinton, Chris Matthews, and many others.

White House Fellows Making Policy
As you know, over the years White House Fellows have contributed to the formulation of policy in many important ways. I want to highlight a recent example of how an idea generated by a White House Fellow can become a real and meaningful project that benefits the public. Last year, Steve Poizner ('01-02) addressed a critical issue during his Fellowship year-an unacceptably large number of American youth fail each year to develop the academic, social, and citizenship skills necessary to succeed in our country.

After conducting the necessary research and securing the appropriate approvals, Steve made a policy proposal to address this issue in a meeting with President Bush. That policy proposal has now become an Executive Memorandum, which was signed on December 23, 2002, by President Bush. In this memorandum, the President announced the establishment of the Task Force on Disadvantaged Youth. President Bush has directed this task force to develop a comprehensive Federal response to the problems of youth failure, with a focus on enhanced agency accountability and effectiveness. We congratulate Steve on his contribution to our Nation. Steve has just started a new position teaching 12th grade American Government at Mount Pleasant High School - a public school in San Jose, California. More information on Steve's proposal is available at /news/releases/2002/12/20021223.html.

As you can see, things are going well in the White House Fellows program.

Best wishes for a happy and safe 2003.
- Jocelyn

[ Home | Next ]