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

2016 Congressional interns meet with Pat Griffin, former Assistant to the President for Legislative Affairs

2016 Congressional interns meet with Pat Griffin, former Assistant to the President for Legislative Affairs

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 in Washington, D.C. through mid-November.

Interns are nominated by the presidents of the 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 disciplines.

2016 Congressional interns with United States Representative Sam Farr

2016 Congressional interns with United States Representative Sam Farr

Class discussion at the Panetta Institute ranges from United States foreign and defense policy to cybersecurity issues to 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 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 the Capitol Hill office of a member of the California congressional delegation. Studies continue when the students move to Washington. In addition to their work in congressional offices, participants attend weekly seminars on policy issues and different aspects of government.

Interns Jessica Dockstader and Zenobia Walker celebrate during an internship event

Interns Jessica Dockstader and Zenobia Walker celebrate during an internship event

Speakers at the seminars for 2016 included Secretary Panetta; Tom Daschle, former United States Senate Majority Leader; Michéle Flournoy, former Undersecretary of Defense; Alice Rivlin, former Director of the Office of Management and Budget; Thomas Wickham, Jr., Parliamentarian of the House of Representatives; Doris Meissner, Senior Fellow and Director, Migration Policy Institute; Pat Griffin, former Assistant to the President for Legislative Affairs; Sam Farr, United States Representative (D), 20th District, California; Bill Lowery, former United States Representative (R), 41st District, California and Jerry Mansfield, lead information services coordinator, Congressional Research Service.

“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.”

The Institute covers program costs including CSUMB course registration fees, campus services during orientation, air travel and housing in Washington, D.C. By covering these expenses, the Panetta Institute can make the program available to interns from all socioeconomic levels. Interns also receive twenty semester credits.

2016 Panetta Institute Interns at the Panetta Institute

2016 Panetta Institute interns at the Panetta Institute

Among others, the experts and faculty participating in the two-week orientation were: Dan Quayle, forty-fourth vice president of the United States, Ron Brownstein, Atlantic Media Company’s editorial director for strategic partnerships; Dan Balz, best-selling author and reporter for The Washington Post; Carla Marinucci, California Playbook senior writer for Politico Magazine; 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; as well as Institute Chairman Secretary Panetta.

In addition to presentations and question-and-answer sessions with more than thirty speakers, the interns participated in a three-part consensus building exercise designed to educate the students to the challenging nature of forging compromise when parties have conflicting priorities.

Below are the speakers and topics for the 2016 orientation course

  • John Arquilla, Ph.D., professor and chair, Defense Analysis Department, Naval Postgraduate School, spoke on cybersecurity and national security.
  • Dan Balz, chief correspondent, The Washington Post, and Carla Marinucci, senior writer, POLITICO, California Playbookdiscussed the impact of press and media on politics.
  • George Blumenthal, chancellor, University of California, Santa Cruz, shared his thoughts on the challenges of American higher education.
  • Ron Brownstein, best-selling author and Atlantic Media Company’s editorial director for strategic partnerships, reviewed the changing nature of the presidency, current presidential campaigns and candidates.
  • 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 and Fred Keeley, former assemblyman, 27th District, 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.
  • John Franzén, Democratic campaign and communications director joined Paul Bruno, vice chair and spokesperson for the Monterey County Republican Party to discuss party politics, the press and media in campaigns.
  • Joe Gunter, mayor, City of Salinas; Stephanie Harlan, vice mayor, City of Capitola; and Fred Meurer, former city manager, City of Monterey, presented together on local and state relationships with Washington, D.C.
  • Dennis Hungridge, founder and principal consultant, Workplace Learning Designs, trained the students on speech, protocol and interview techniques.
  • Hans Johnson, Ph.D., director, higher education center and senior fellow, Public Policy Institute of California, discussed present-day immigration issues.
  • Richard Kezirian, Ph.D., professor emeritus, Panetta Institute, presented on two topics:  “A history of Congress” and “Presidential-congressional relations:  A historical perspective
  • John Laird, California secretary for natural resources, and Clyde Macdonald, water policy expert and former senior staff to the California State Legislature, covered water issues in California.
  • 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, “Leadership in Sacramento through the eyes of an insider.”
  • William Lowery, former United States Representative, 41st District, California, and Marty Russo, former United States Representative, 3rd District, Illinois, each taught courses on “Gridlock and partisanship in Congress.”  Mr. Lowery presented from a Republican perspective with Mr. Russo taking the Democratic point of view.
  • David Mills, professor, Stanford Law School and co-chair, Board of Directors, NAACP Legal Defense Fund, taught on criminal justice reform.
  • 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 of the United States and the other on budget politics and policy making.
  • Jim Newton, journalist, author and teacher, presented on California history and politics.
  • Mary Nichols, chairman, California Air Resources Board, spoke on climate change.
  • Dan Quayle, forty-fourth vice president of the United States, provided his impression on “A view of  Washington, D.C. today.”
  • Matthew Spence, Ph.D., J.D., former deputy assistant secretary for Middle East policy, gave the students a  detailed look at the current social, political and military challenges in the region of the Middle East.
  • Jodie Torkelson, chief of staff, United States Representative Richard Nolan, guided the students on what to expect in their office with a review of the workings of a 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, University of California, Berkeley School of Law, examined the United States Supreme Court and reviewed with students the most important cases of the past year and what lies ahead for the Court.
  • Thomas Wickham, J.D., parliamentarian, United States House of Representatives, instructed the interns on parliamentary procedure and the institutions and traditions of the House.
  • Additional courses featured former intern participants in the program and a review of the Institute’s 2016 Youth Civic Engagement Survey.

Below are the 2016 interns and their assigned congressional offices.

Name Home Campus Assignment
Naomi Alexander Cal Poly Pomona The Hon. Xavier Becerra (D)
Michael Andrews CSU Maritime Academy The Hon. Ken Calvert (R)
Allison Bunyan CSU Northridge The Hon. Mike Honda (D)
Dominic Cicerone Humboldt State University The Hon. Darrell Issa (R)
Jessica Dockstader CSU San Marcos The Hon. Steve Knight (R)
Darran Duhamel CSU Monterey Bay The Hon. Doris Matsui (D)
Joshua Ebiner Cal Poly Pomona The Hon. Jeff Denham (R)
Gabriel Escobedo San Francisco State University The Hon. Tony Cárdenas (D)
Maria Gadduang CSU Dominguez Hills The Hon. Mark Takano (D)
Samantha Hunt Dominican University of California The Hon. Mike Thompson (D)
Janeesha Jones CSU East Bay The Hon. Jerry McNerney (D)
Jenna Kushigemachi CSU Channel Islands The Hon. Nancy Pelosi (D)
Windy Ly CSU Sacramento The Hon. Barbara Lee (D)
Phyillis Macharia CSU Fullerton The Hon. Eric Swallwell (D)
Alejandro Martinez CSU Stanislaus The Hon. Jim Costa (D)
Jeanette Martinez CSU San Bernardino The Hon. Ted Lieu (D)
Malcolm Mills Cal Poly San Luis Obispo The Hon. Grace Napolitano (D)
Mitchel Morales CSU Long Beach The Hon. Kevin McCarthy (R)
Jacey Nguyen San Diego State University The Hon. Raul Ruiz (D)
Elena Radding Santa Clara University The Hon. Ami Bera (D)
Parker Rhodes CSU Chico The Hon. Doug LaMalfa (R)
Kathy Tran San Jose State University The Hon. Jared Huffman (D)
Laura Tsutsui CSU Fresno The Hon. Sam Farr (D)
Randy Villegas CSU Bakersfield The Hon. John Garamendi (D)
Zenobia Walker Sonoma State University The Hon. Juan Vargas (D)
Madison Yocum Saint Mary’s College of California The Hon. Ed Royce (R)

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 Family Foundation
  • Richard Lounsbery Foundation
  • Office of the Chancellor, California State University