Governor Ralph Northam recently announced that applications for the 2021 Governor’s Fellows Program will be accepted through Monday, March 15, and invited students who are Virginia residents or who are attending colleges and universities in the Commonwealth to apply. Since 1982, the Governor’s Fellows Program has offered participants firsthand state government experience at the highest level of Virginia’s executive branch.
Fellows are placed with a member of the Governor’s Cabinet or with a member of his personal staff, providing a unique opportunity to learn about the work and decision-making in the Office of the Governor. Governor’s Fellows also hear from special guest speakers from the Northam Administration and state government agencies.
“When we invest in our youth, we are making a down payment on our shared future, and I am proud that we have dedicated new funding to expand access to the program this year,” said Governor Northam. “The Governor’s Fellows Program provides a unique way for students to gain valuable professional experience, while developing a deeper understanding of the issues and policies that impact all Virginians. I strongly encourage those interested in public service to apply and be part of our work to continue moving the Commonwealth forward.”
Governor Northam recognizes that to build an inclusive state government workforce which reflects the diversity of the Commonwealth, Virginia must work to remove barriers to opportunity. He made an historic investment into the program through his proposed budgets over the last two years, which will guarantee compensation for all 2021 Fellows for the first time in the program’s history.
“Being part of the Governor’s Fellows Program was an amazing opportunity,” said Natasha Coleman, Registered Nurse at VCU Health and 2019 Governor’s Fellow. “While positioned in the Office of the Secretary of Health and Human Resources, I learned a lot about state government and met so many people working hard to improve the health of Virginians. It was invaluable to see how policy decisions impact medical professionals and patients. The most meaningful portion of the Fellowship was contributing to research on maternal mortality and seeing initiatives come out months later to combat the rates in Virginia.”
Qualified applicants must be rising college seniors, graduating seniors, or graduate students. All Virginia college and university students are eligible to apply, regardless of state of residence. Virginia residents who attend out-of-state colleges and universities are also eligible. Both public and private college and university students are encouraged to apply.
The selection of Fellows is based solely on merit. The Governor’s Fellows Program does not discriminate on the basis of race, sex, color, national origin, religion, sexual orientation, gender identity, age, political affiliation, disability, or veteran status. The Northam Administration is still determining whether the program will function remotely or in-person for the 2021 session and a final decision will be made in the coming months.
“It is our obligation to remove systemic barriers to increasing diversity in the Governor’s Office and state government by those who have been historically underrepresented or excluded,” said Dr. Janice Underwood, Chief Diversity Officer. “Providing our Fellows a salary fosters access and success and aligns with the OneVirginia mission to develop the Commonwealth into an inclusive state, where all people can live, learn, work, and thrive.”
- Submitted by Alena Yarmosky, Office of the Governor