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


“I can’t express how grateful I am for being part of this program. I learned from some of the leading officials in the nation about a wide range of topics. I observed the inner workings of Congress. And now I am interested in public service as my career.”
–2014 intern

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-three CSU campuses, 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 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 leadership positions and academic disciplines.

Class discussion at the Panetta Institute ranges from national fiscal and monetary policy to the 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. Studies continue as well during the students’ time in Washington. In addition to their work in congressional offices, participants attend regular seminars on policy issues and different aspects of government.

Washington has taken note of the program, with Congressional leaders and staff remarking on the value of the extensive preparation for students by the Panetta Institute. “The Panetta interns we have hosted in our office continue to be among the best I’ve worked with,” said Yusef Parray, an aide to Congressman Mike Honda (D-CA).

University officials have enthusiastically embraced the opportunities presented to students. Rear Admiral Thomas A. Cropper, president of the California Maritime Academy, said of the program: “It is a game changer in so many lives.”

Among those conducting the seminars for the class of 2014 were Pat Griffin, former assistant to the president for legislative affairs and a partner at GriffinWilliams, LLC; Alice Rivlin, former director of the White House Office of Management and Budget and senior fellow of the Brookings Institution; Tom Daschle, former United States senator from South Dakota and chair of the Center for American Progress Board of Directors; Norman Ornstein, resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute; Michèle Flournoy, chief executive officer of the Center for a New American Security and former undersecretary of defense; and Bill Lowery, former congressman from California and principal, Innovative Federal Strategies, LLC.

“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 2014 interns during the two-week orientation and in Washington, D.C. He discussed the issues facing Congress, and how each student could make his or her internship meaningful and successful. Also speaking at the two-week orientation was former Vice President Dan Quayle, who discussed both his time in the George H.W. Bush administration as well as his service in both the Senate and House of Representatives.

Experts who spoke to interns during the 2014 orientation include:*

  • Dr. John Arquilla, Professor and Chair, Department of Defense Analysis, Naval Postgraduate School
  • Dr. James Barry, Senior Scientist, Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute
  • The Hon. Hilary Bryant, Councilmember and Former Mayor, City of Santa Cruz
  • The Hon. Tom Campbell, Dean and Donald P. Kennedy Chair in Law and Professor of Economics, Chapman University; Former United States Representative, 12th and 15th Districts, California
  • The Hon. Karina Cervantez, Mayor, City of Watsonville
  • Ryan Coonerty, Santa Cruz County Supervisor and Former Mayor, City of Santa Cruz
  • James Copeland, Senior Advisor to CJ Lake, LLC and Former White House Deputy Assistant to President Jimmy Carter
  • Jim Cunneen, Principal, California Strategies, LLC and Former Assemblyman, 24th District, California State Assembly
  • John Franzén, President, Franzén and Company
  • Aaron Garavaglia, 2012 Panetta Institute Congressional Intern
  • Sarah Henry, Program Director, Next 10
  • Frank Hespe, Partner, Nicora and Hespe
  • Aerris Hoskin, 2012 Panetta Institute Congressional Intern
  • Dennis Hungridge, Human Resources Learning and Development Manager, Monterey Bay Aquarium
  • Dr. Colin Kahl, Associate Professor, Georgetown University and Former Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for the Middle East
  • Morgan Kashata, 2013 Panetta Institute Congressional Intern
  • The Hon. Fred Keeley, Treasurer, County of Santa Cruz and Former Assemblyman, 27th District, California State Assembly
  • Dr. Richard Kezirian, Professor and Senior Program Coordinator, Panetta Institute
  • Andrew Kress, Panetta Institute Intern Advisor and 2010 Panetta Institute Congressional Intern
  • Dr. Peter Long, President and Chief Executive Officer, Blue Shield of California Foundation
  • The Hon. William Lowery, Principal, Innovative Federal Strategies, LLC and Former United States Representative, 41st District, California
  • Charles Mahtesian, Politics Editor, National Public Radio
  • Carla Marinucci, Senior Political Writer, San Francisco Chronicle
  • Fred Meurer, Principal, Meurer Municipal Consulting, LLC, and Former City Manager, City of Monterey
  • Dr. Joe Minarik, Senior Vice President and Director of Research, Committee for Economic Development and Former Chief Economist, Office of Management and Budget
  • Hiroshi Motomura, Susan Westerberg Prager Professor of Law, University of California, Los Angeles
  • Dr. Dustin Mulvaney, Assistant Professor, Environmental Studies, College of Social Sciences, San José State University
  • Jim Newton, Editor-at-Large, Los Angeles Times
  • The Hon. Jack O’Connell, Partner, Capitol Advisors Group and Former State Superintendent of Public Instruction, California
  • The Hon. Leon E. Panetta, Chairman, Panetta Institute for Public Policy and Former Secretary of Defense
  • Sylvia M. Panetta, Co-Chair and CEO, Panetta Institute
  • The Hon. Dan Quayle, Forty-Fourth Vice President of the United States
  • The Hon. Marty Russo, CEO, Russo Capital Strategies, LLC and Former United States Representative, 3rd District, Illinois
  • Ian Samuel, Associate, Jones Day Law Firm and Former Law Clerk to United States Supreme Court Associate Justice Antonin Scalia
  • Gerry Shelton, Partner, Capital Advisors Group, Former Chief Consultant to the California State Assembly Committee on Education
  • Jodie Torkelson, Deputy Chief of Staff, United States Representative Rick Nolan, 8th District, Minnesota
  • Dr. Fernando Torres-Gil, Professor of Social Welfare and Public Policy, University of California, Los Angeles and Former U.S. Assistant Secretary for Aging, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
  • Phil Trounstine, Co-Publisher and Co-Editor, and Former Communications Director for California Governor Gray Davis
  • Thomas Wickham Jr., Parliamentarian, United States House of Representatives
  • 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 expense reimbursement funds to help cover other expenses. Upon successful completion of the course, interns earn up to twenty semester credits.

The 2014 roster of interns and congressional office assignments are as follows:

  • Alix Alcazar, CSU Los Angeles, U.S. Representative Adam Schiff
  • Matthew Brown, CSU Bakersfield, U.S. Representative Darrell Issa
  • Jessica Burke, Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo, U.S. Representative Grace Napolitano
  • Kristina Cervi, CSU Channel Islands, U.S. Representative Duncan Hunter
  • Christine Edmiston, California Maritime Academy, U.S. Representative Mark Takano
  • Eric Espinoza, Cal Poly Pomona, U.S. Representative Jerry McNerney
  • Philip Goodwin, Saint Mary’s College, U.S. Representative Tony Cárdenas
  • Joshua Halvorson, CSU Stanislaus, U.S. Representative Nancy Pelosi
  • Saleem Hawatmeh, CSU Northridge, U.S. Representative Raul Ruiz
  • Wendy Holman, CSU Monterey Bay, U.S. Representative Loretta Sanchez
  • Otto Lange, San Diego State University, U.S. Representative Devin Nunes
  • Nicole McAllister, Chico State University, U.S. Representative John Garamendi
  • Caoimhe McOsker, San Francisco State University, U.S. Representative Juan Vargas
  • Yadira Molina, Sonoma State University, U.S. Representative Scott Peters
  • Lester Murillo, CSU Long Beach, U.S. Representative Mike Honda
  • Diana Muñoz, CSU Fullerton, U.S. Representative Sam Farr
  • Victoria Nguyen, CSU San Marcos, U.S. Representative Xavier Becerra
  • Yenifer Origel, Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo, U.S. Representative Jared Huffman
  • Anthony Pham, San José State University, U.S. Representative Janice Hahn
  • Elijah Poppers, Humboldt State University, U.S. Representative Jim Costa
  • Kristen Ramos, CSU San Bernardino, U.S. Representative Ken Calvert
  • Erin Rodriguez, CSU Sacramento, U.S. Representative Lois Capps
  • Sean Rodriguez, CSU Dominguez Hills, U.S. Representative Barbara Lee
  • Britney Toste CSU Fresno, U.S. Representative Jeff Denham
  • Kelsea Vaughan, Dominican University of California, U.S. Representative Doris Matsui
  • Yasmeen Wanees, Santa Clara University, U.S. Representative Lucille Roybal-Allard

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:

    • AT&T California
    • Flora Family Foundation
    • Hearst Foundations
    • Monterey Peninsula Foundation
    • Office of the Chancellor, California State University