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

“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 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.

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 travel to Washington where, in addition to their work in congressional offices, they 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 makes the program available to interns from all socioeconomic levels. Interns also receive up to twenty semester credits.

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 is among those teaching the 2016 interns not only about the issues facing Congress, but also how each student can make his or her internship meaningful and successful.

Below is a list of the speakers and topics for the 2016 orientation course

  •  John Arquilla, Ph.D., professor and chair, Defense Analysis Department, Naval Postgraduate School, speaks on cybersecurity and national security.
  •  Dan Balz, chief correspondent, The Washington Post, and Carla Marinucci, senior writer, POLITICO, California Playbookdiscusses the impact of press and media on politics.
  • George Blumenthal, chancellor, University of California, Santa Cruz, shares his thoughts on the challenges of American education.
  •  Ron Brownstein, best-selling author and Atlantic Media Company’s editorial director for strategic partnerships, reviews 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, present, “How Congress works:  a realist’s view”
  • Jim Cunneen, former assemblyman, 24th District, California State Assembly and Fred Keely, former assemblyman, 27th District, participate 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, discusses healthcare in the United States and California.
  • John Franzén, campaign and communications director will be on a panel with Phil Trounstine, former communications director for California Governor Gray Davis.  Together they speak about the press and media in political campaigns.
  •  Joe Gunter, mayor, City of Salinas; Stephanie Harlan, vice mayor, City of Capitola; and Fred Meurer, former city manager, City of Monterey, present together on local and state relationships with Washington, D.C.
  •  Dennis Hungridge, founder and principal consultant, Workplace Learning Designs, trains the students on speech, protocol and interview techniques.
  • Hans Johnson, Ph.D., director, higher education center and senior fellow, Public Policy Institute of California, teaches a class on immigration issues and trends.
  • Richard Kezirian, Ph.D., professor emeritus, Panetta Institute, presents 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, cover water issues in California.
  • Stephanie Leonard, communications project manager, Next 10, leads the students in an interactive exercise on the state budget.
  •  Drew Liebert, J.D., former chief counsel, California Assembly Judiciary Committee, presents, “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 teach courses on “Gridlock and partisanship in Congress.”   Mr. Lowery presents 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, teaches 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, teaches 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, presents on California history and politics.
  • Mary Nichols, chairman, California Air Resources Board, speaks on climate change.
  •  Dan Quayle, forty-fourth vice president of the United States, provides his impression on “A view of  Washington, D.C. today.”
  •  Matthew Spence, Ph.D., J.D., former deputy assistant secretary for Middle East policy, gives 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, guides 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, teaches “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, examines the United States Supreme Court and will review 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, instructs the interns on parliamentary procedure and the institutions and traditions of the House.
  •  Additional courses feature former participants in the program and a review of the Institute’s 2016 Youth Civic Engagement Survey.

The 2016 roster of interns is as follows:

    • Naomi Alexander, Cal Poly Pomona
    • Michael Andrews, California Maritime Academy
    • Allison Bunyan, CSU Northridge
    • Dominic Cicerone, Humboldt State University
    • Jessica Dockstader, CSU San Marcos
    • Darran Duhamel, CSU Monterey Bay
    • Joshua Ebiner, Cal Poly Pomona
    • Gabriel Escobedo, San Francisco State University
    • Maria Gadduang, CSU Dominguez Hills
    • Samantha Hunt, Dominican University of California
    • Janeesha Jones, CSU East Bay
    • Jenna Kushigemachi, CSU Channel Islands
    • Windy Ly, CSU Sacramento
    • Phyillis Macharia, CSU Fullerton
    • Alejandro Martinez, CSU Stanislaus
    • Jeanette Martinez, CSU San Bernardino
    • Malcolm Mills, Cal Poly San Luis Obispo
    • Mitchel Morales, CSU Long Beach
    • Courtney Nguyen, San Diego State University
    • Elena Radding, Santa Clara University
    • Parker Rhodes, CSU Chico
    • Kathy Tran, San José State University
    • Laura Tsutsui, CSU Fresno
    • Randy Villegas, CSU Bakersfield
    • Zenobia Walker, Sonoma State University
    • Madison Yocum, Saint Mary’s College of California

Interns also attend special seminars during their stay in Washington.  While the speakers for the 2016 semester have not yet been finalized, the 2015 program included seminars with 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.

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