Congressional Internship Program Gives Students the Opportunity to Work and Study in Washington, D.C.

“Every workday, I take a moment to reflect on where I am and what I am doing. I know that one of the honors I will be known for is not only that I am a veteran but also that I am a Panetta Institute graduate.”
Jeremy Villanueva 
CSU Bakersfield

Each fall, the Panetta Institute hosts students for its Congressional Internship Program, beginning in mid-August with an intensive two-week course at the Institute and continuing through mid-November in Washington, D.C.

Interns are nominated by the presidents of twenty two CSU campuses, as well as Dominican University of California and Santa Clara University, and approved for participation by the Panetta Institute and a representative from the CSU Chancellor’s Office. During the intensive summer training session, these students attend lectures led by an array of experts from diverse disciplines.

Class discussion at the Panetta Institute ranges from national fiscal and monetary policy to practicalities of what interns can expect once they arrive for work on Capitol Hill. Sessions also focus on policy issues as well as on how congressional office-holders coordinate their work with state and local governments and constituents.

Each intern is then assigned to work for two and one-half months in a Capitol Hill office of a member of the California congressional delegation.

“There’s just no substitute for this first-hand experience to promote public service,” says Institute Chairman Leon E. Panetta, “and we’ve had tremendous cooperation from our members of Congress – both Republicans and Democrats – in working with our students.”

Secretary Panetta was among those to teach the 2013 interns not only about the issues facing Congress, but also how they each could make their internship meaningful and successful.

Among the speakers during the two-week orientation were John Sullivan, former parliamentarian, U.S. House of Representatives; former California Assemblyman Jim Cunneen, (R) 24th District; former California Assemblyman Fred Keeley, (D) 27th District; Fernando Torres-Gil, associate dean, Academic Affairs, School of Public Policy and Social Research at UCLA and former assistant secretary for aging, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services; Dr. Colin Kahl, associate professor, Georgetown University and former deputy assistant secretary of defense for the Middle East; Joe Minarik, senior vice president and director of research, Committee for Economic Development and former chief economist for the White House Office of Management and Budget; and Jack O’Connell, former California state superintendent of public instruction.

Studies continue during the students’  time in Washington. In addition to their work in congressional offices, participants attend weekly seminars on policy issues and different aspects of government.

Experts who spoke to interns during the 2013 orientation include:*

  • Dr. John Arquilla, Professor, Department of Defense Analysis, U.S. Naval Postgraduate School
  • The Hon. Hilary Bryant, Mayor, City of Santa Cruz
  • Ryan Coonerty, Former Mayor and City Council Member, City of Santa Cruz
  • James Copeland, Former Deputy Assistant to the President
  • Jim Cunneen, Former Assemblyman, 24th District, California State Assembly
  • John Franzén, Senior Communications Officer, Pew Charitable Trusts
  • Dr. Pat Griffin, Former Assistant to the President for Legislative Affairs
  • Sarah Henry, Program Director, Next 10
  • Frank Hespe, J.D., Professor, Panetta Institute and Partner, Law Office of Albert J. Nicora and Frank Hespe
  • Dennis Hungridge, Manager, Human Resources Learning and Development, Monterey Bay Aquarium
  • Dr. Hans Johnson, Senior Fellow and Bren Fellow, Public Policy Institute of California
  • Detrek Jones, Administrative Assistant, Panetta Institute
  • Dr. Colin Kahl, Associate Professor, Georgetown University and Former Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for the Middle East
  • Dr. Dan Kammen, Distinguished Professor of Energy, University of California, Berkeley
  • The Hon. Fred Keeley, Treasurer, Santa Cruz County and Former Assemblyman, 27th District, California State Assembly
  • Dr. Richard Kezirian, Professor and Senior Program Coordinator, Panetta Institute
  • Dr. Peter Long, President and CEO, Blue Shield of California Foundation
  • Charles Mahtesian, Politics Editor for Digital News, National Public Radio
  • Fred Meurer, City Manager, City of Monterey
  • Dr. Joe Minarik, Senior Vice President and Director of Research, Committee for Economic Development
  • The Hon. Jack O’Connell, Former State Superintendent of Public Instruction, California
  • The Hon. Leon E. Panetta, Former Secretary of Defense
  • Sylvia M. Panetta, Co-Chair and CEO, Panetta Institute
  • The Hon. Helen Rucker, Trustee, Monterey Peninsula Unified School District
  • Dr. George Somero, Associate Director, Hopkins Marine Station, Stanford University
  • John Sullivan, Former Parliamentarian, U.S. House of Representatives
  • Paul Tanks, Commander, Monterey High School Naval Junior Reserve Officers Training Corps
  • Dr. Fernando Torres-Gil, Associate Dean, Academic Affairs, School of Public Policy and Social Research, UCLA; Former Assistant Secretary for Aging, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
  • Amanda Tyler, J.D., Professor of Law, University of California, Berkeley School of Law
  • Phil Trounstine, Co-Publisher and Co-Editor,, and Former Communications Director for California Governor Gray Davis
  • Ellen Wilson, Program Coordinator and Archivist, Panetta Institute

* Speakers’ titles at the time of their participation.

The Institute covers program costs including CSUMB course registration fees, campus services during orientation, air travel and housing in Washington. Each intern also receives a stipend to help cover other expenses. Upon successful completion of the course, interns earn up to twenty semester credits.

The 2013 roster of interns and congressional office assignments are as follows:

  • Molly Alcorn, Sonoma State University, U.S. Representative Xavier Becerra
  • Derek Barnes, CSU San Marcos, U.S. Representative Henry Waxman
  • Juan Pablo Benavente, CSU East Bay, U.S. Representative Sam Farr
  • Bryce Brady, Cal Poly Pomona, U.S. Representative Scott Peters
  • Margaux Curcuru, San Francisco State University, U.S. Representative Judy Chu
  • Kimberly Flores, CSU Fullerton, U.S. Representative Tony Cárdenas
  • Kevin Fox, CSU Sacramento, U.S. Representative Nancy Pelosi
  • Adam Gluck, CSU Northridge, U.S. Representative Eric Swalwell
  • Antoine Hage, CSU Channel Islands, U.S. Representative David Valadao
  • Barry Heads, II, CSU Fresno, U.S. Representative Jim Costa
  • Katie Hoselton, Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, U.S. Representative Raul Ruiz
  • Darion Johnston, Chico State University, U.S. Representative Lois Capps
  • Morgan Kashata, CSU Monterey Bay, U.S. Representative Jared Huffman
  • Alexis Kelley, San Diego State University, U.S. Representative Jackie Speier
  • Gregory Lawrence, California Maritime Academy, U.S. Representative Doug LaMalfa
  • Morgan Leonard, Humboldt State University, U.S. Representative Grace Napolitano
  • Nicole Leonard, CSU Dominguez Hills, U.S. Representative Ken Calvert
  • Daniela Leyva, Dominican University of California, U.S. Representative Doris Matsui
  • Edgar Lopez, CSU San Bernardino, U.S. Representative Buck McKeon
  • José Lujano, Santa Clara University, U.S. Representative Alan Lowenthal
  • Jeffrey Montgomery, CSU Stanislaus, U.S. Representative Jeff Denham
  • Isabel Ochoa, CSU Bakersfield, U.S. Representative Karen Bass
  • Paige Pelonis, CSU Long Beach, U.S. Representative Devin Nunes
  • Ashley Pennington, San José State University, U.S. Representative Mike Honda
  • Lisa  Russell, CSU East Bay, U.S. Representative John Garamendi
  • Kaitlin Ward, Cal Poly Pomona, U.S. Representative Barbara Lee

Please contact us for more information.

Internship Supporters

The Panetta Institute is grateful to the many supporters of the Congressional Internship Program for their extraordinary public service in supporting this educational opportunity. Among them:

    • Flora Foundation
    • Hearst Foundations
    • Monterey Peninsula Foundation
    • Office of the Chancellor, California State University