THE WHITE HOUSE
Office of the Press Secretary
Regional Finalists for White House Fellowships Announced
The White House today named 121 Americans from 29 states as regional finalists for 1996-97 White House Fellowships.
White House Fellows work for a year as full-time paid assistants to Cabinet officers and senior White House staffers. They also participate in an educational program of off-the-record meetings with top national leaders -- Supreme Court justices, members of Congress, Cabinet officers, Fortune 500 executives, prominent journalists and others. The non-partisan program was created by President Johnson and John Gardner, his HEW secretary, who later founded Common Cause.
"Americans have always been great dreamers and willing experimenters," Gardner says in the forward to a new history book on the program. "Like American society itself, this experiment in leadership development has no foreseeable end. But at this point, 30 years out, it is clear that the experiment and the dream are thriving."
Among those who served as White House Fellows in the program's early years: CNN President Tom Johnson, historian Doris Kearns Goodwin, Gen. Colin Powell and HUD Secretary Henry Cisneros. The current class of 14 Fellows -- average age 32 -- includes a Chicago urologist, a Minneapolis high school teacher, an Arkansas community banker, a Philadelphia prosecutor and a Massachusetts college professor.
The 121 regional finalists named today include many who have excelled in more than one profession: an Olympian who's also an attorney; a published poet who's an Air Force officer now serving in the Balkans; and a former NBA player now working as an attorney in Virginia.
Next month, each of the regional finalists will be interviewed by one of 10 distinguished panels of local leaders. The panelists will select 30-35 national finalists to be interviewed in June by the President's Commission on White House Fellowships. The commission will send its recommendations to the president, who will select 11-19 White House Fellows for 1996-97.