2019 Congressional Interns Return from Washington, D.C.; Celebrated Program Concludes its Twenty-First Year

Students participating in the Panetta Institute’s twenty-first Congressional Internship Program have returned to California from Congressional offices in Washington, D.C.

Twenty-six students served one semester as interns in the California offices of the United States House of Representatives.

While in Washington, participants also attended weekly seminars in Washington held exclusively for them by the Institute. These seminars were led by Republican and Democratic members of Congress, top government officials and experts in a variety of fields, including the federal budget, healthcare, immigration, foreign policy and more.

Among the experts presenting to interns in Washington, D.C. were Dr. Pat Griffin, former assistant to the president for legislative affairs and partner, GriffinWilliams, LLC; Secretary Panetta; Michèle Flournoy, former undersecretary of defense for policy and co-founder and chief executive officer of the Center for a New American Security; Tom Daschle, former United States Senate Majority Leader (D), South Dakota; Thomas Wickham, J.D., parliamentarian, United States House of Representatives; Alan Blinder, Gordon S. Rentschler Memorial Professor of Economics and Public Affairs at Princeton University; and Doris Meissner, former commissioner of the U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service and a senior fellow at the Migration Policy Institute.  Interns also met with United States Representative Jimmy Panetta (D), Monterey, and toured the United States Supreme Court with Jamil N. Jaffer of the Antonin Scalia Law school.

The 2019 class of interns were nominated by the presidents of twenty-three CSU campuses, as well as Dominican University of California, Saint Mary’s College of California and Santa Clara University, and interviewed by Panetta Institute senior staff.

The Congressional Internship Program began in August with a two-week orientation. The many speakers addressing students at the intensive two-week program included Dan Balz, best-selling author and chief correspondent for The Washington Post; Thomas Wickham, parliamentarian, United States House of Representatives; and Jeremy Bash, former chief of staff for the Secretary of Defense and director of the CIA.

Secretary Panetta taught a number of courses, along with Panetta Institute professors.

The semester-long public service experience was developed by Secretary and Mrs. Panetta and is sponsored by the Panetta Institute. It is widely considered to be one of the finest congressional intern programs in the nation.

Dan Balz, left, of The Washington Post, discusses the press’s role with Secretary Panetta.

Secretary Panetta said that the Congressional Internship Program gives students an opportunity  to learn how to channel their interest in public service by working in Congressional offices, directly participating in the democratic process.

“Our 2019 national survey of college students found that a majority describe the country as being ‘off on the wrong track,’ even though most of them rate the state of the economy as excellent or good,” said Secretary Panetta.

“Clearly, when students think about the condition of the country, they’re looking beyond just national prosperity and their own economic prospects,” Secretary Panetta continued. “Their concerns go deeper, to the health of our democracy and the quality of our leaders.”

“At the Panetta Institute we are encouraged by this finding and are committed to transferring this enthusiasm to a new generation of leaders,” Secretary Panetta added. “Our intern program gives these young men and women the training and resources they need to work in Washington and participate in our democracy.”


“Your program changed my life. I continue to see the benefits and the countless ways the Congressional Internship Program impacted me. I have spent my career in government, campaigns, policy and direct service. I am constantly reminded of ‘Panetta Lessons’ (as our cohort called them.) The Panetta Institute shines as an example of how we should all serve.”

–Christina Barron, 2006 intern


A  2017 intern, Emily Yonan of Saint Mary’s College of California, described her experience this way: “This internship has definitely increased my interest in pursuing a career in public service. Thank you for everything you do. None of what you did went unnoticed.”

Each intern is then assigned to work for two and one-half months in the Capitol Hill office of a member of the California congressional delegation. In addition to their work in congressional offices, participants attend weekly seminars on policy issues and different aspects of government.


“The Panetta Institute is a highly respected program on Capitol Hill.”  Elena Redding, staff assistant, Congressman Ami Bera


The preparation and continuing course work pays off for each intern. A staff assistant from a Congressional office recently stated: “All our interns from the Panetta Institute have joined our office well prepared for the tasks assigned to them as well as ready to carry out a variety of duties and assignments.

Interns are nominated by the presidents of each CSU campus, as well as Dominican University of California, Saint Mary’s College of California and Santa Clara University — and approved for participation by the Panetta Institute.

The Institute covers program costs including course registration fees, campus services and housing during orientation, air travel and housing in Washington, D.C. As a result, the Panetta Institute makes the program available to interns from all socioeconomic levels. Interns also receive twenty semester credits. Many of the Panetta Institute interns go on to successful positions in public service.

One such intern, from the class of 2010, is Hafiza Arikat, who today is a consultant at Deloitte management consulting in Washington, D.C. Previously she had served as a Department of Homeland Security liaison officer to the U.S. Department of State’s Center for Strategic Counterterrorism Communications. Looking back at her internship, she said, “As a child of two refugees who immigrated to the United States for a better life for themselves and their children, I know how important it is to give back to the country that has given me so much. I served as a Panetta congressional intern with pride and with honor. I owe so much to your amazing Institute that took a sociology major (who never thought she could work in government), believed in her and set her up for success.”

Again in 2019, a wide variety of experts spoke with interns, both at the Institute and in Washington, D.C. “There’s just no substitute for this first-hand experience to promote public service,” says Secretary Panetta, “and we’ve had tremendous cooperation from our members of Congress – both Republicans and Democrats – in working with our students.”

Authorities participating in the two-week orientation at the Panetta Institute along with Secretary Panetta included: Dan Balz, best-selling author and chief correspondent for The Washington Post; Thomas Wickham, parliamentarian, United States House of Representatives; William Lowery, former United States Representative (R), 41st District, California, and Marty Russo, former United States Representative (D), 3rd District, Illinois.

Below is a complete list of the speakers and topics in the 2019 orientation course:

  • Secretary Panetta presented sessions on the founding and creation of the American Republic; congressional leadership and policy making; the founding of the American democracy and challenges both nationally and internationally.
  • Luis Alejo, member of the Monterey County Board of Supervisors and former California State Assembly member; Cynthia Garfield, council member for the city of Pacific Grove, and Joe Gunter, mayor for the city of Salinas, discussed relations between local governments and Washington, D.C.
  • John Arquilla, Ph.D., distinguished professor and chair, Defense Analysis Department, Naval Postgraduate School, spoke on cyber security and national security
  • Dan Balz, chief correspondent, The Washington Post, discussed the impact of press and media on politics.
  • Sonia Banks, J.D., professor,  Panetta Institute, taught a course on effective communication.
  • Jeremy Bash, J.D., former chief of staff for the Secretary of Defense and director of the CIA, provided insight on the investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election.
  • Theresa Cardinal Brown, director of immigration and cross-border policy at the Bipartisan Policy Center, taught a class on immigration issues.
  • James Copeland, former White House deputy assistant to President Jimmy Carter and Les Francis, former deputy chief of staff to President Jimmy Carter, presented, “How Congress works: a realist’s view.”
  • Jim Cunneen, former assemblyman, 24th District, California State Assembly, Fred Keeley, former assemblyman, 27th District and Frank Hespe, advocate and fiduciary, participated as part of a special three-part session and role playing exercise on consensus building.
  • Hector Flores, M.D., founding member and co-director of the White Memorial Medical Center Family Medicine Residency Program in Los Angeles, discussed healthcare in the United States and California.
  • Colonel Gary Hausman, commandant of the Defense Language Institute Foreign Language Center and Commander Paula Travis, meteorology and oceanography program officer at the Naval Postgraduate School, taught on national security policy.
  • Jeff Horwitt, senior vice president Hart Research Associates, presented the findings of the Panetta Institute’s 2019 Youth Civic Engagement Survey.
  • Richard Kezirian, Ph.D., professor emeritus, Panetta Institute, presented a two-part session on “A history of Congress.”
  • John Laird, former secretary of California natural resources and former assemblyman, 27th District, discussed the state’s natural resources priorities.
  • Stephanie Leonard, communications project manager, Next 10, led the students in an interactive exercise on the state budget.
  • Drew Liebert, J.D., former chief counsel, California Assembly Judiciary Committee, presented “Differences between the federal and state levels.”
  • William Lowery, former United States Representative, 41st District, California and Marty Russo, former United States Representative, 3rd District, Illinois taught courses on the Appropriations and Ways and Means Committees as well as a course on “Gridlock and partisanship in Congress.” Lowery presented from a Republican perspective with Mr. Russo taking the Democratic point of view.
  • James Mayer, senior fellow and president emeritus at California Forward, spoke on public policy issues affecting California.
  • Joe Minarik, Ph.D., former chief economist of the Office of Management and Budget and senior vice president and director of research for the Committee for Economic Development, taught two courses: one on the economy and the budget of the United States and the other on trade policy.
  • Eduardo Ochoa, Ph.D., former assistant secretary for postsecondary education, and president, California State University, Monterey Bay, and Willard Clark Lewallen, Ph.D., superintendent/president of the Hartnell Community College District, shared their thoughts on the challenges in American education.
  • Jan Smutny-Jones, CEO of Independent Energy Producers Association, covered the energy and clean air issues facing the nation and the state of California.
  • George Somero, Ph.D., associate director, Hopkins Marine Station, presented on climate change.
  • Matthew Spence, Ph.D., J.D., former deputy assistant secretary of defense for Middle East policy, gave the students a review of the the current social, political and military challenges in the region of the Middle East.
  • Jodie Torkelson, former chief of staff, United States Representative Richard Nolan, guided the students on what to expect in their office with a review on the role of the congressional office.
  • Fernando Torres-Gil, Ph.D., former United States assistant secretary on aging and professor of social welfare and public policy, University of California, Los Angeles taught politics and challenges of aging and diversity in the 21st century.
  • Amanda Tyler, J.D., professor of law at the UC Berkeley School of Law, teaught two sessions: one on criminal justice reform and another on recent Supreme Court decisions.
  • Thomas Wickham, J.D., parliamentarian, United States House of Representatives, instructed the interns on parliamentary procedure and the institutions and traditions of the House.
  • Panetta Institute staff lecturers Sonia Banks, Richard Kezirian and Fred Keeley participated in lectures and discussions with students throughout the orientation.
  • Additional courses included a presentation by former Panetta Institute interns and a course on intern protocols.

Below are the 2019 interns:

Name Home Campus U.S. Representative
Symphoni Barbee Sonoma State University The Hon. Ami Bera
Esther Bautista CSU Fresno The Hon. Mike Thompson
Victor Beck San Diego State University The Hon. John Garamendi
Claudia Castaneda CSU San Bernardino The Hon. Alan Lowenthal
Brigitte Dahrouj Chico State University The Hon. Ron Ruiz
Jordan Dayer Cal Poly Pomona The Hon. Kevin McCarthy
Jasmine Flores CSU Sacramento The Hon. Salud Carbajal
Morgan Gross CSU Stanislaus The Hon. Nancy Pelosi
Christopher Harris St. Mary’s College of California The Hon. Ken Calvert
Alyssa Herrera CSU Monterey Bay The Hon. Nanette Diaz-Barragan
Pryce Hood Cal Maritime Academy The Hon. Jimmy Panetta
Karlie Jones CSU Northridge The Hon. Eric Swalwell
Christine Lam Cal Poly San Luis Obispo The Hon. Harley Rouda
Lauren Loeb CSU San Marcos The Hon. Paul Cook
Samantha Logan San Francisco State University The Hon. Adam Schiff
Belinda Magallon CSU East Bay The Hon. Katie Hill
Oscar Mancilla CSU Dominguez Hills The Hon. Jimmy Gomez
Sara Martinez CSU Channel Islands The Hon. Ted Lieu
Ciara Moezidis Santa Clara University The Hon. Ro Khanna
Michael Perez Humboldt State University The Hon. Gilbert Ray Cisneros
Allison Popovitz Dominican University The Hon. T.J. Cox
Omar Prudencio-Gonzalez CSU Long Beach The Hon. Doris Matsui
Deysi Rocha San José State University The Hon. Karen Bass
Dubrea Sanders CSU Bakersfield The Hon. Mark Takano
Davona Watson CSU Los Angeles The Hon. Jim Costa
Meghan Waymire CSU Fullerton The Hon. Susan Davis

Among the experts presenting to interns in Washington, D.C. were Dr. Pat Griffin, former assistant to the president for legislative affairs and partner, GriffinWilliams, LLC; Secretary Panetta; Michèle Flournoy, former undersecretary of defense for policy and co-founder and chief executive officer of the Center for a New American Security; Tom Daschle, former United States Senate Majority Leader (D), South Dakota; Thomas Wickham, J.D., parliamentarian, United States House of Representatives; Alan Blinder, Gordon S. Rentschler Memorial Professor of Economics and Public Affairs at Princeton University; and Doris Meissner, former commissioner of the U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service and a senior fellow at the Migration Policy Institute.

Interns also met with United States Representative Jimmy Panetta (D), Monterey, and toured the United States Supreme Court with Jamil N. Jaffer of the Antonin Scalia Law school.

The 2019 class of interns were nominated by the presidents of twenty-three CSU campuses, as well as Dominican University of California, Saint Mary’s College of California and Santa Clara University, and interviewed by Panetta Institute senior staff.

The Congressional Internship Program began in August with a two-week orientation. The many speakers addressing students at the intensive two-week program included Dan Balz, best-selling author and chief correspondent for The Washington Post; Thomas Wickham, parliamentarian, United States House of Representatives; and Jeremy Bash, former chief of staff for the Secretary of Defense and director of the CIA.

Secretary Panetta taught a number of courses, along with Panetta Institute professors.

The semester-long public service experience was developed by Secretary and Mrs. Panetta and is sponsored by the Panetta Institute. It is widely considered to be one of the finest congressional intern programs in the nation.

Dan Balz, left, of The Washington Post, discusses the press’s role with Secretary Panetta.

Secretary Panetta said that the Congressional Internship Program gives students an opportunity  to learn how to channel their interest in public service by working in Congressional offices, directly participating in the democratic process.

“Our 2019 national survey of college students found that a majority describe the country as being ‘off on the wrong track,’ even though most of them rate the state of the economy as excellent or good,” said Secretary Panetta.

“Clearly, when students think about the condition of the country, they’re looking beyond just national prosperity and their own economic prospects,” Secretary Panetta continued. “Their concerns go deeper, to the health of our democracy and the quality of our leaders.”

“At the Panetta Institute we are encouraged by this finding and are committed to transferring this enthusiasm to a new generation of leaders,” Secretary Panetta added. “Our intern program gives these young men and women the training and resources they need to work in Washington and participate in our democracy.”


“Your program changed my life. I continue to see the benefits and the countless ways the Congressional Internship Program impacted me. I have spent my career in government, campaigns, policy and direct service. I am constantly reminded of ‘Panetta Lessons’ (as our cohort called them.) The Panetta Institute shines as an example of how we should all serve.”

–Christina Barron, 2006 intern


A  2017 intern, Emily Yonan of Saint Mary’s College of California, described her experience this way: “This internship has definitely increased my interest in pursuing a career in public service. Thank you for everything you do. None of what you did went unnoticed.”

Panetta Institute Interns Recount the Many Lessons Learned While Working in Washington

Two participants in the 2018 class of the Panetta Institute’s Congressional Internship Program have shared their stories about what it’s like to be part of the celebrated program by telling news outlets of their experience.

Tyler Burch, a student from California State University at San Marcos, told the Escondido Grapevine about his firsthand experience of working in a Congressional office. “I don’t think people who don’t work directly with government have an understanding of how much they do,” Mr. Burch said in the February 1 edition of the Grapevine.

“I feel like when I talk to people, they expect that Congress members have staffs that are so big. But they don’t realize your congressional staff in a D.C. office is eight people – and they do everything that has to do with the Congress member’s legislative agenda.”

Another intern, Tori Hust of CSU Fullerton, told the Orange County Register in its February 6 edition how as an intern to then-House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, (D) San Francisco, she stood among the protesters during the Brett Kavanaugh Supreme Court hearings and with the thousands of people lined up waiting to pay their final respects to the late Sen. John McCain.

Intern Tori Hust with Secretary and Mrs. Panetta

“There was never a slow day in that office,” said Ms. Hust, who  was in the nation’s capital from August 18 to November 3. She told the Register that she  worked with senior advisers on health care and the budget and sat in on two “kitchen cabinet” meetings, a rarity for interns.

“For me, it was really interesting to see firsthand some of the biggest issues Congress is facing,” Ms. Hust, a third-year student with a major in political science a minor in public policy.

Mr. Burch also reported that the internship gave him the opportunity to contribute meaningfully to the his office. His first duties were providing tours to visiting constituents, reported the Grapevine. But it wasn’t long before his responsibilities expanded.

“Once they get to trust you a little bit more, then they do things like send you to congressional hearings,” he said. “You take notes and write up memos to the rest of the office or whoever is interested in that legislative area.

“It involved a lot of writing. I appreciated that because it gives you a lot of experience with legislation that you don’t get otherwise. …It was really nice because I started dealing with the legislative side, which is really what I wanted to learn.”

Both Ms. Hust and Mr. Burch praised the program for its emphasis on non-partisanship.

“That is something the Panetta Institute really focuses on — nonpartisan policies and really working across the aisle, Ms. Hurst said. “(Secretary Panetta) is a person who could work across the aisle to get things done.”

Tyler Burch in Washington, D.C.

Mr. Burch, who worked in the office of Congressman Alan Lowenthal, (D) Long Beach, said he was comfortable working with either party. His interest in environmental policy as it pertains to economics led to his placement in the office of Lowenthal, who is on multiple environmental committees.

Mr. Burch said he is considering working in a political office for a year after graduating and eventually applying to law school. Ms. Hust said she plans to apply to universities where she can go to law school and get a master’s degree in public policy. She has an interest in election law and transparency.

Summing up his experience, Mr. Burch recalled, “It was incredible We stayed a 10-minute walk from the Capitol building. Every morning, myself and whoever in the cohort had to go in earlier than the other interns – not all offices start at the same time – we would wake up at seven a.m. and walk from where we were staying to the Capitol. It was really cool.”

Congressional Intern Says Program ‘Changed Me as a Citizen’

California State University, Channel Islands student Jenna Kushigemachi describes her experience in the 2016 Panetta Institute Congressional Internship Program and states that it “changed me as a citizen” after spending eleven weeks on Capitol Hill.

CSUCI student Jenna Kushigemachi with Secretary Leon Panetta and Sylvia Panetta.

“It was really spectacular — I got to work on actual policy,” Ms. Kushigemachi told the college’s Channel Magazine in its Spring, 2017 edition. “I drafted and went to congressional briefings. I got up every day and worked in the Capitol Building.”

“We got to learn from the experts,” she said. “I came back with much more knowledge than most people have. You don’t get that experience anywhere else.”

Ms. Kushigemachi, a graduating art and digital media student, said her experience in the Congressional Internship Program expanded her horizons. “I really wanted to show that art is what I study in school, but not all that I can do,” she said. “It’s a once-in-a-lifetime experience, and if you have the opportunity you can’t miss it.”

In addition to the lectures and presentations that are part of the program, Ms. Kushigemachi said, working as an intern in the office of Representative Nancy Pelosi (D-California) presented her with the opportunity of learning how business is done in Washington. “I’ve walked through where they do interviews,” she said. “I sat in those offices every day for three months. I’ve passed Speaker of the House Paul Ryan in the hallway.”

“It changed me as a citizen and I understand the impact of participating” she said. “It really increases your level of patriotism, passing your country’s leaders in the hallway on the Hill.”

Here is a link to the Channel Magazine article.

 

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