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Selection Process

Selection as a White House Fellow is based on a combination of the following criteria:

  • A record of remarkable professional achievement early in one's career.
  • Evidence of leadership skills and the potential for further growth.
  • A demonstrated commitment to public service.
  • The knowledge and skills necessary to contribute successfully at the highest levels of the federal government.

All these qualities combined with the strength of one's character, a positive attitude, and the ability to work well with others are taken into consideration when selecting a class of White House Fellows.

The selection process is very competitive. There can be as many as 1,000 applicants for the eleven to nineteen fellowships. The White House Fellows Program office processes the applications and former Fellows screen the applications to identify the most promising candidates. Approximately 100 of the most qualified applicants are selected to be interviewed by eight to ten regional panels, which are composed of prominent local citizens. Based on the results of their interviews, the regional panels select approximately thirty candidates to proceed as national finalists.

All national finalists are required to undergo comprehensive background investigations to ensure that they qualify for the security clearance necessary for their fellowship work assignments. Every year, the President's Commission on White House Fellowships, which is composed of approximately thirty outstanding citizens who represent a broad range of backgrounds, interests, and professions, selects a class of White House Fellows. Members of the Commission are appointed by the President; some have served through several administrations and some are former Fellows. During selection weekend, the President's Commission on White House Fellowships interviews finalists at a location near Washington, D.C. After spending selection weekend interviewing, interacting with, and observing the national finalists, the Commission recommends those individuals it finds most qualified for the fellowship to the President for appointment as White House Fellows.


  • Applicants must be U.S. citizens.
  • Employees of the federal government are not eligible unless they are career military personnel.
  • Applicants must have completed their undergraduate education and be working in their chosen professions.
  • There are no formal age restrictions. However, the fellowship program was created to give selected Americans the experience of government service early in their careers.

The Commission awards Fellowships on a strict non-partisan basis, and encourages balance and diversity in all aspects of the program.

All applications must be submitted on line by February 1, 2009. Letters of recommendation should be mailed and using an express mail service is strongly recommended. Letters of recommendation should be mailed to:

The President's Commission on White House Fellows
c/o O.P.M. - Sheila Coates
1900 E Street, NW, Room B431
Washington, D.C. 20415
Phone: 202-606-1818

Calendar and Procedures

'February 1
Application Deadline
Applications must be submitted online on or before this date to be accepted. Instructions are provided under "Application and Directions".

Regional Finalist Selection
Applicants are notified in the first week of March if they have been selected as regional finalists. If selected they will be notified of the time and location for regional interviews. The regional finalist list is also posted on the website and is announced by the White House Press Office. Panel interviews are conducted during March and April. Regional finalists must keep a flexible schedule until panel assignments are announced. It is not likely that the assignment can be changed. Regional finalists must submit extensive security background investigation forms upon notification of their selection.

National Finalists Notification
National finalists selected from the regional interviews are notified at the beginning of May. The national finalist list also is posted on the website and announced by the White House Press Office. All national finalists undergo background investigations before proceeding with the selection process.

Selection Weekend
National finalists are interviewed over a 2 1/2 day period by the members of the President's Commission on White House Fellowships. Expenses are paid by the Commission.

Presidential Selection
The White House Press Office announces the President's official selection of the incoming class of White House Fellows.

Placement Week
Fellows interview with principals in government agencies for their work assignments for their fellowship year during Placement Week which generally occurs mid-month. The Director determines the placement of each Fellow in a work assignment. Expenses are paid by the Commission.

September 1 to August 31
Inclusive dates of the fellowship year.

Work Placement

Engagement in the work of the federal government lies at the heart of a White House Fellowship. Work assignments can offer unparalleled experience working with senior administration officials on ever changing issues and challenges. This work often requires long hours and, at times, unglamorous duties that require as much perseverance as ability on the Fellows' part.

White House Fellows typically spend a year as full-time, paid assistants to senior White House Staff, the Vice President, Cabinet Secretaries and other top-ranking government officials. Their assignments demand a capacity for quick learning and a willingness to work hard, often on issues outside of their area of expertise. Responsibilities range from chairing interagency meetings and designing and implementing federal policies, to drafting speeches for cabinet secretaries to representing their agencies on Capitol Hill and in international treaty negotiations. Job assignments are made by the Director of the President's Commission on White House Fellowships in consultation with agency officials on the basis of interviews conducted during "Placement Week".

Fellows receive a salary and benefits from the agency for which they work. Salary is paid uniformly at the federal pay grade GS-14, step 3. White House Fellows cannot receive compensation from any other source during their year of government service.

In return for the privilege of participating in the Fellowship year, Fellows are expected to apply what they have learned by contributing to the nation as greater leaders in their respective communities, professions, and in public service. Fellows are expected to return to their former or new occupations more experienced in public policy decision-making and better prepared to contribute to national affairs, thereby fulfilling the mission of the program.

White House Fellows 2008-2009 Placements

Dr. Brian Alexander
Department of Veterans Affairs

Ms. Margaret Angell
Department of Housing and Urban Development

Dr. Daniel Fletcher
Office of Science and Technology

Dr. J. Nadine Gracia
Department of Health and Human Services

Lieutenant Commander Michael Hayes
National Security Council

Lieutenant Colonel Ryan Janovic
Department of Agriculture

Ms. Sarita James
Department of Energy

Dr. David Loaiza
Office of Management and Budget

Major Nicole Malachowski
General Services Administration

Mr. Christopher Meyer
Department of Defense

Mr. Eyrique Miller
Millennium Challenge Corporation

Mr. David Rawlinson
Office of the White House Chief of Staff

Mr. Jason Snyder
Department of Education

Lieutenant Colonel Everett Spain
Department of the Treasury

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