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

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.

Panetta Institute 2017 Congressional Interns with Secretary Panetta.

The year 2018 will mark the twentieth year of this celebrated program, recognized as one of the leading internship courses in the nation.

“We are proud that our program has earned the reputation of being one of the finest internship programs in the nation,” says Secretary Leon E. Panetta.

Interns first attend an intensive two-week course at the Panetta Institute, where discussions range 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. During this training session, students attend lectures led by an array of experts from diverse disciplines.

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 preparation and continuing course work pay 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 take a leading role among other interns in the office.”

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 and a representative from the CSU Chancellor’s Office.

The Institute covers program costs including college course registration fees, campus services 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 United States 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.”

This year, a wide variety of experts took time to speak 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.”

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; Dr. Alice Rivlin, former director, U.S. Office of Management and Budget and senior fellow at the Brookings Institution; Michèle Flournoy, former under secretary of defense for policy and co-founder and chief executive officer of the Center for a New American Security; Jimmy Panetta, United States Representative (D), California; Doris Meissner, former commissioner of the U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service and a senior fellow at the Migration Policy Institute; Tom Daschle, former United States Senate Majority Leader (D), South Dakota; Thomas Wickham, J.D., parliamentarian, United States House of Representatives; Jamil Jaffer, J.D., founder, National Security Institute and adjunct professor of law and director, National Security Law and Policy Program; Brian Fitzpatrick, United States Representative (R), Pennsylvania; and Jeff Denham, United States Representative (R), California.

Experts participating in the two-week orientation along with Secretary Panetta included: Dan Quayle, forty-fourth vice president of the United States, Dan Balz, best-selling author and reporter for The Washington Post; Carla Marinucci, Senior Writer, POLITICO California Playbook; 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 in topics in this year’s orientation course:

  • Luis Alejo, member of the Monterey County Board of Supervisors and former California State Assembly Member, Joe Gunter, mayor, City of Salinas; Fred Meurer, former city manager of Monterey and Carrie Theis, mayor pro tem for the city of Carmel-by-the-Sea discussed relations between local governments and Washington, D.C.
  • 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, reporter POLITICO, California Playbook, discussed the impact of press and media on politics.
  • Jeremy Bash, former chief of staff for the Secretary of Defense and director of the CIA provided insight into the investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election.
  • Severin Borenstein, professor of business administration and public policy at the University of California, Berkeley covered the energy challenges facing the nation.
  • Theresa Cardinal Brown, director of Immigration and Cross-Border Policy, Bipartisan Policy Center, and Símon Salinas, supervisor, District 3, Monterey County and California State Assembly Member, District 28 (2000-2006) 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, California State Assembly, District 24 (1994-2000), and Fred Keeley, California State Assembly, District 27 (1996-2002), participated as part of a special three-part session and role playing exercise on consensus building.
  • Sam Farr, United States Representative, 20th District, California (1993-2016), joined Secretary Panetta to discuss a recent Panetta Institute report on national service.
  • 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.
  • Richard Kezirian, Ph.D., professor emeritus, Panetta Institute presented on three historical topics with “A history of Congress,” “Presidential-congressional relations: A historical perspective” and “California’s experience and America’s Future”
  • Nancy Kotowski, Monterey County superintendent of schools, Monterey County Office of Education, and Eduardo Ochoa, former assistant secretary for postsecondary education, and president, California State University, Monterey Bay, shared their thoughts on the challenges of American education.
  • John Laird, California secretary for natural resources 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,  “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 the Appropriations and Ways and Means Committees as well as a course on “Gridlock and partisanship in Congress.” Mr. Lowery presented from a Republican perspective with Mr. Russo taking the Democratic point of view.
  • Clyde Macdonald, water policy expert and former senior staff to the California State Legislature covered water issues in 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 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.
  • Dan Quayle, forty-fourth Vice President of the United States, gave his impression on “A view of Washington, D.C. today.”
  • George Somero, Ph.D., associate director, Hopkins Marine Station of Stanford University, presented on climate change.
  • Matthew Spence, Ph.D., J.D., former deputy assistant secretary of defense for Middle East policy, gave the students a primer on 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 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.”
  • 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 featured former intern participants in the program and a review of the Institute’s 2017 Youth Civic Engagement Survey.

Below are the 2017 interns:

Name Home Campus U.S. Representative
Tigran Agdaian San Francisco State University The Hon. John Garamendi (D)
Christian Arevalo CSU Fresno The Hon. Jeff Denham (R)
Mikaela Arneson CSU Los Angeles The Hon. Raul Ruiz (D)
Brenda Barniga CSU Marcos The Hon. Barbara Lee (D)
Jessica Gallaway CSU Chico The Hon. Steve Knight (R)
Alexis Garcia-Arrazola CSU Monterey Bay The Hon. Grace Napolitano (D)
Bryiana Haas CSU East Bay The Hon. Jared Huffman (D)
Kristofer Harris Cal Poly Pomona The Hon. Ken Calvert (R)
Carlos Juarez CSU Fullerton The Hon. Jim Costa (D)
Logan Kemp CSU Sacramento The Hon. Nancy Pelosi (D)
Julie Leyba CSU San Bernardino The Hon. Ted Lieu (D)
Karina Morales CSU Bakersfield The Hon. Susan Davis (D)
Marc Ninapaytan-Henry CSU Northridge The Hon. Julia Brownley (D)
Daisy Orozco CSU Long Beach The Hon. Jimmy Gomez (D)
Maryam Quasto Cal Poly San Luis Obispo The Hon. Mark Takano (D)
Atticus Reyes CSU Channel Islands The Hon. Eric Swalwell (D)
Cambria Rodriguez CSU Dominguez Hills The Hon. Mike Thompson (D)
Robert Sanchez Cal Maritime Academy The Hon. Darrell Issa (R)
Beau Scott Santa Clara University The Hon. Jimmy Panetta (D)
Jessica Tanner San Jose State University The Hon. Tom McClintock (R)
Nicholas Thomas Humboldt State University The Hon. Doris Matsui (D)
Sayra Trejo Dominican University of California The Hon. Alan Lowenthal (D)
Jenna Valle-Riestra Sonoma State University The Hon. Jerry McNerney (D)
Alejandra Vazquez-Ramos San Diego State University The Hon. Jackie Speier (D)
Emily Yonan CSU Stanislaus The Hon. Kevin McCarthy (R)
Salma Zaragoza Saint Mary’s College of California The Hon. Juan Vargas (D) 

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