The Impact of the Program


President Joe Biden: In addition to meeting with the 2020-21 class of White House Fellows, President Biden also met with every class of White House Fellows between 2009 and 2016, as the (then) Vice President. His discussions with the Fellows have covered topics as wide ranging as domestic policy, foreign policy, and his personal insights about leadership at the highest levels of government.

President Donald Trump: “As White House Fellows, you have humbly contributed your time and talents at the highest levels of public service. Your daily efforts have assisted me in achieving record results for the American People. I hope you take great pride in knowing that you played an integral role in improving policy and addressing matters of the highest concern to our Nation. I am grateful for your hard work and dedication.”

President Barack Obama: “This prestigious program has welcomed talented, engaged women and men to the Federal Government each year. Through their service White House Fellows have gained valuable first-hand experience and a richer perspective on issues defining the times. Many have gone on to shape important debates and make tremendous contributions throughout our society – from the public sector to business and academia. This program continues to speak to what is possible when we set aside personal ambition in pursuit of the common good, and it offers a reminder that those who love their country can change it.”

President George W. Bush: “White House Fellows across our nation are improving the lives of their fellow citizens and contributing to our culture through public service. When President Lyndon Johnson announced the establishment of the White House Fellows program in 1964, he said “A genuinely free society cannot be a spectator society.” As we face the challenges and seize the opportunities of a new era, we remember these words and know that America will rely on the energy, dedication, and ambition of our next generation of leaders. The White House Fellows Program serves as an investment in the future of our country.”

President Bill Clinton: “Since 1965, the White House Fellows Program has brought enterprising young men and women to Washington to learn first-hand the arts of policy-making and public administration. In return, each Fellow contributes his or her talent and energy to a year of service, adding immeasurably to the quality and effectiveness of government. Nearly 500 Americans have served as White House Fellows, and virtually all of them have gone on to make significant contributions to their communities and to our nation.”

President George H. W. Bush: “From the time it was instituted, the White House Fellows program has appealed to and fostered men and women with independent minds and a hunger for great achievements and has offered a unique training ground for young people to pursue careers of vision, discovery, and service in every aspect of American life. The results have exceeded all expectations. Indeed, it is almost impossible to quantify the extent of the program’s influence on the character of our country.”

President Ronald Reagan: “I am the fifth President to preside over the White House Fellowships since their inception in 1964, and through my close association with the program, both as Governor of California and as President, I have seen it grow in stature and ­prestige. It has stood the test of time and is valued today because it has succeeded in bringing the talent, the enthusiasm and the vision of young Americans directly to the seat of government; and in so doing has paid tribute to an American tradition that has always sought to strengthen the common aspirations which unite the American people and their government. Over the years, the White House Fellows have accepted both the invitation to serve at the highest levels in government and the responsibility to carry the lessons learnt from their experience back to their professions and to their communities. America is the richer today for having an ever-growing body of leaders across the country whose year in Washington has made them more aware of the complexities of government and better fitted them to play a part in shaping the destiny of this great nation.”

First Lady Nancy Reagan (remarks on the 50th Anniversary of the Program in 2015): “The caliber of leadership potential and civic involvement that White House Fellows display is daunting. My husband was extremely supportive of the White House Fellows program. He understood the importance of offering citizens an opportunity to work side by side with government officials, teaching them the vital skills needed to become industry or community leaders.”

President Jimmy Carter: I’m very proud of all those who have been selected as White House Fellows. This is a program that was established in the early months of the Johnson administration through the inspired leadership and at the suggestion of John Gardner. And I think it’s a rare occasion in our nation’s history, when a man who has a brilliant idea that’s innovative and constructive can come back several administrations later and help to keep the vigor and the quality of the program and to observe how it has continued beyond his own original concept. We’ve had a fine group of White House fellows who have spanned the transition period between the administration from President Ford to myself. I think it is a very fine occasion for you to see how two different administrations from two different parties can deal with the same basic questions that continue in every phase of the administration and our national affairs. My sincere thanks to John Gardner for conceiving this noble and beneficial program and for helping to perpetuate its qualities as my Chairman for the Commission on White House Fellowships.

President Johnson: What we’re trying to do is to find here in this country, yes, here in the White House Fellow, a combination of an idealist with vision and a pragmatist with judgment.

David Rockefeller – Founding Chairman of the President’s Commission on White House Fellowships: “From your ranks have emerged presidential candidates, cabinet secretaries, admirals and generals, governors, senators and representatives, judges, corporate CEOs, university presidents and deans of prestigious graduate schools, non-profit executives and scientists. Without exception, Fellows have taken the time to lead and create organizations dedicated to the betterment of our nation, just as President Johnson and John Gardner had hoped you would.”

John Gardner – co-founder, White House Fellowships: “Americans have always been great dreamers and willing experimenters. President Johnson seized the dream of the White House Fellowships, and every president since has warmly supported it. Like American society itself, this experiment in leadership development has no foreseeable end. But at this point…it is clear that the experiment and the dream are thriving.”

Career Impact

White House Fellows alumnus Martin Jischke (Class of 1975-76) describes how the Fellowship had a profound impact on his approach to leadership and his career serving at the highest levels of major educational institutions.

President Joe Biden with the White House Fellows Class of 2020-21.
The White House Fellows Class of 2017-18 meeting with Vice President Mike Pence.

White House Fellows Elected to Public Office

Senate (5)

Congress (8)

State Level Officers (9)

State Legislators (12)

Judges/State Attorney (3)

Mayors (3)

City Councils/County Executives (5)

Other Local Elective Office (1)

White House Fellows Confirmed by Senate

Cabinet Secretaries (3)

Agency Heads (13)

Ambassadors (14)

Deputy/Under Secretaries (12)

Assistant Secretaries (17)

General Counsels (6)

Inspector General (1)

Federal Reserve Board (1)

Judges – Circuit Court of Appeals (2)

US Attorneys (3)

Board of Directors (1)

White House Fellows: Generals/Admirals


ARMY (18)

NAVY (14)


Business and Non-Profit Leaders

CEOs, Presidents, and High-Level officers of Business Enterprises (181)

White House Fellows College Presidents/Deans

University Presidents (26)

Deans Professional Schools (28)