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

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Former Vice President Dan Quayle with Secretary Panetta

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Former presidential adviser David Gergen joins the discussion

“The Panetta Institute’s program is providing the kind of depth of experience that few other organizations are able or willing to put together.”

–Monterey Herald editorial

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, 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.

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 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 the Capitol Hill office of a member of the California congressional delegation.

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

“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 up to twenty semester credits.

2015 interns with Secretary Panetta on the steps of the United States Capitol

2015 interns with Secretary Panetta on the steps of the United States Capitol

One 2015 intern, Mary Ashley Cherney of Cal Poly Pomona, said: “This internship has dramatically altered the course of my life. I did not think someone from my background had a chance in Washington, D.C. My internship experience demonstrated otherwise. Thank you so very much for creating a unique program that is unlike any other in the nation, a program that pays for everything so I can be fully present and not have the financial stress that many other interns face.”

Secretary Panetta was among those to teach the 2015 interns not only about the issues facing Congress, but also how they each can make their internship meaningful and successful. Secretary Panetta conducted classes both in Washington, D.C. and at the Institute.

Also meeting with interns during their internships in Washington were United States Representative Tony Cárdenas; former United States Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle; United States Representative Sam Farr; former United States Under Secretary of Defense for Policy Michèle Flournoy; former Assistant to the President for Legislative Affairs Patrick Griffin; former United States Representative William Lowery; President of the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget Maya MacGuineas; former Acting Director and former Deputy Director of the CIA Michael Morell; former Director of the United States Office of Management and Budget Alice Rivlin; former United States Representative Marty Russo; and the United States House of Representatives Parliamentarian Thomas Wickham, Jr.

Speakers meeting with interns during the 2015 orientation included:*

    • John Arquilla, Ph.D., Professor and Chair, Defense Analysis Department, Naval Postgraduate School.
    • Dan Balz, Chief Correspondent, The Washington Post
    • Barbara Block, Ph.D.,The Charles and Elizabeth Prothro Professor Chair in Marine Sciences Stanford University
    • Karina Cervantez Alejo, Councilmember, City of Watsonville
    • Ryan Coonerty, Supervisor, 3rd District, County of Santa Cruz
    • James Copeland, Senior Advisor to CJ Lake, LLC; Former White House Deputy Assistant to the President Jimmy Carter
    • Jim Cunneen, Former Assemblyman, 24th District, California State Assembly
    • Hector Flores, M.D., Founding Member and Co-Director of the White Memorial Medical Center Family Medicine Residency Program in Los Angeles
    • John Franzén, President, Franzén & Company
    • David Gergen, J.D., Former White House Adviser to Presidents Richard Nixon, Gerald Ford, Ronald Reagan and Bill Clinton
    • Phillip Goodwin, 2014 Panetta Institute Congressional Intern
    • Sarah Henry, Program Director, Next 10
    • Aerris Hoskin, 2012 Panetta Institute Congressional Intern
    • Dennis Hungridge, Founder and Principal Consultant, Workplace Learning Designs
    • Hans Johnson, Ph.D., Senior Fellow, Public Policy Institute of California
    • Morgan Kashata, 2013 Panetta Institute Congressional Intern
    • Fred Keeley, Former Assemblyman, 27th District, California State Assembly
    • Richard Kezirian, Ph.D., Professor and Senior Program Coordinator, The Panetta Institute for Public Policy
    • John Laird, California Secretary for Natural Resources
    • Don Lane, Mayor, City of Santa Cruz
    • Drew Liebert, J.D., Former Chief Counsel, California Assembly Judiciary Committee
    • William Lowery, Principal, Innovative Federal Strategies, LLC; Former United States Representative, 41st District, California
    • Carla Marinucci, Senior Political Writer, San Francisco Chronicle
    • Joe Minarik, Ph.D., Senior Vice President and Director of Research, Committee for Economic Development; Former Chief Economist of the Office of Management and Budget
    • Jack O’Connell, Partner, Capitol Advisors Groups; Former State Superintendent of Public Instruction, California
    • Leon E. Panetta, Chairman, The Panetta Institute for Public Policy
    • Sylvia M. Panetta, Co-Chair and CEO, The Panetta Institute for Public Policy
    • Dan Quayle, Forty-Fourth Vice President of the United States
    • Marty Russo, CEO, Russo Capitol Strategies, LLC; Former United States Representative, 3rd District, Illinois
    • Matthew Spence, Ph.D., J.D., Senior Fellow, Jackson Institute for International Affairs, Yale University; Former Deputy Assistant Secretary for Middle East Policy, United States Department of Defense
    • Jodie Torkelson, Deputy Chief of Staff, United States Representative Richard Nolan
    • Fernando Torres-Gil, Ph.D., Professor of Social Welfare and Public Policy, University of California, Los Angeles; Former United States Assistant Secretary on Aging, United States Department of Health and Human Services
    • Phil Trounstine, Co-Publisher and Co-Editor of; Former Communications Director for Governor Gray Davis of California
    • Amanda Tyler, J.D., Professor of Law, University of California, Berkeley School of Law
    • Thomas Wickham Jr., J.D., Parliamentarian, United States House of Representatives
    • Ellen Wilson, Senior Program Coordinator and Archivist, The Panetta Institute for Public Policy

* Speakers’ titles at the time of their participation.

The 2015 roster of interns and congressional office assignments are as follows:

    • Nafisa Ahmed, Cal Poly Pomona, U.S. Representative Mike Thompson
    • Jessica Candela, Chico State University, U.S. Representative Mike Honda
    • Crisha Carlos, Dominican University of California, U.S. Representative Doris Matsui
    • Mary Ashley Cherney, Cal Poly Pomona, U.S. Representative Raul Ruiz
    • Megan Collins, Saint Mary’s College of California, U.S. Representative Mark Takano
    • Karla Corres, CSU Monterey Bay, U.S. Representative Juan Vargas
    • Angelina Finau, CSU Northridge, U.S. Representative Grace Napolitano
    • Kimberly Fuentes, CSU Channel Islands, U.S. Representative Alan Lowenthal
    • Dominique Garcia, CSU Fresno, U.S. Representative Barbara Lee
    • Josephine Hazelton, CSU Stanislaus, U.S. Representative Jared Huffman
    • Adali Hernandez, CSU Sacramento, U.S. Representative Lois Capps
    • Courtney Jacobson, Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, U.S. Representative Scott Peters
    • Sofia Jamall, Sonoma State University, U.S. Representative Sam Farr
    • Lilia Kavarian, CSU Los Angeles, U.S. Representative Jim Costa
    • Amanda Martinez, CSU Fullerton, U.S. Representative Ken Calvert
    • Nassim Moallem, San Diego State University, U.S. Representative Nancy Pelosi
    • N’dea Moore-Petinak, Santa Clara University, U.S. Representative Mark DeSaulnier
    • Christopher Morales, CSU San Marcos, U.S. Representative Dana Rohrabacher
    • Afshin Najafi, San José State University, U.S. Representative Eric Swalwell
    • Ryan Sweeney, CSU Long Beach, U.S. Representative Jerry McNerney
    • Ryan Tayahua, CSU East Bay, U.S. Representative Janice Hahn
    • Tuesday Thornton, Humboldt State University, U.S. Representative John Garamendi
    • Kayla Tolentino, San Francisco State University, U.S. Representative Tony Cárdenas
    • Melissa Zamora, CSU San Bernardino, U.S. Representative Xavier Becerra
    • Jessica Zaragoza, CSU Dominguez Hills, U.S. Representative Darrell Issa

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