Policy Fellows

2019-20 Policy Fellows Cohort

The application window for the 2021–2022 Policy Fellows program is now open!
Learn more and apply here

The Policy Fellows program is one of the country’s most respected public affairs leadership experiences for emerging and mid-career professionals. The nine-month program is unmatched in its interaction with public officials, leadership training, diversity of participants and perspectives, and opportunity to undertake important projects that benefit the wider community.

The Policy Fellows program has deep roots in Minnesota’s civic community, built on core values of bipartisanship, inclusiveness, and seeking common good solutions to public challenges.

Policy Fellows challenge themselves. They demonstrate leadership in their work and community activities, and exhibit initiative, curiosity, openness to new ideas and concepts, and problem-solving skills. Each year, approximately 35 leaders from government, business/industry, and nonprofit organizations from around the state are selected through a competitive application process. Fellows from the Twin Cities area and across greater Minnesota come together as a cohort once a month and travel together to Washington, DC, for a multi-day study trip.

The program is an initiative of the Center for the Study of Politics and Governance, and is led by faculty director Professor Larry Jacobs.

What are some of the benefits of being a Policy Fellow?

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Build leadership skills

  • Hone specific leadership competencies through in-depth workshops on topics such as self-awareness, emotional intelligence, intercultural competency, conflict fluency, and adaptive leadership; gain tools and skills to bring back to your work.
  • Gain experience hearing and understanding other viewpoints and bring that competency back to your work. Be the one who is able to say, “Have we considered this from another angle?”
  • Refresh and renew through time away from work demands; come back to work energized and motivated. Start to discern what might be next for you, professionally and personally.

Expand your network

  • Forge a strong connection to talented, diverse up-and-coming leaders from across Minnesota’s public, private, and nonprofit sectors and across the political spectrum. 
  • Represent your organization’s brand to new and diverse audiences; become a link to your organization and your industry that others can trust.
  • Find allies who are similarly passionate or concerned about issues of importance to you.
  • Gain access to well-known leaders in Minnesota and Washington, DCincluding issue experts, policymakers, media, analysts, and other influential figures. Our DC visit has included private meetings at the White House, Capitol Hill, Bloomberg News, Council on Foreign Relations, National Press Club, and Pew Charitable Trusts.
  • Join one of the most prominent and influential public affairs networks in Minnesota. Founded by Vice President Walter F. Mondale and Ambassador Geri Joseph, the program was co-directed by former Congressmen Vin Weber and Tim Penny for a dozen years. The program is currently directed by Professor Larry Jacobs and executive director Sara Benzkofer, with nearly 800 alumni across the state and nation.

Develop greater capacity for impact

  • Develop an understanding of policy as a broad concept, inclusive of many efforts to drive change or action in our communities, industries, and organizations.
  • Gain insight into how the system of policymaking and agenda-setting works, and how you can effect change within in the system.
  • Work in small groups to design and implement collaborative projects affecting important regional issues. View summaries of recent projects.

Get to Know the Policy Fellows Community

Acceptance into the Policy Fellows program instantly connects you to a national network of public and private sector leaders. Check out our current cohort and alumni board. You can also see a full list of alumni here.

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Humphrey School Policy Fellows 2020–2021 cohort


Read full bios for the 2020–21 cohort


  • Biiftuu Ibrahim Adam, Victim, Family & Community Relations Coordinator, Minnesota Department of Public Safety – Bureau of Criminal Apprehension
  • David Blomgren, General Counsel, Minnesota National Guard
  • Julie Bluhm, CEO, Guild
  • Dan Collison, Director of Downtown Partnerships, Minneapolis Downtown Council – Downtown Improvement District; Lead Pastor, First Covenant Church of Minneapolis
  • Jeremy DeGier, Supervisory Aircraft Pilot, Minnesota National Guard
  • Hazen Fairbanks, Assistant Principal, KIPP Minnesota
  • Chelsea Georgesen, Policy Specialist, Minnesota Department of Human Services
  • Monica Granados, Brand Marketing Manager, Target Corporation
  • Vachel Hudson, Resident Connections Coordinator/Housing Counselor, AEON/Urban League Twin Cities
  • Jack Huerter, Associate Attorney, Dorsey & Whitney
  • Mohamed Ibrahim, Community Health Specialist, Mayo Clinic Health System; Imam at Greater Mankato Mosques
  • Kelly Johnson, Sr. Manager – Sustainability, Target Corporation
  • Hnede Joshua, Account Coordinator, US Bank
  • Daniel Katzenberger, Sustainability Manager, Best Buy; Commissioner, Eden Prairie Sustainability Commission
  • Jon Kelly, Government Affairs Liaison, Minnesota Department of Commerce
  • Amanda Koonjbeharry, Public Policy Director, Citizens League
  • Josie Lonetti, Associate Director of Public Policy, Minnesota Farm Bureau
  • Ann Marcotte, Attorney at Law; Minnesota State Public Defender; Aitkin County Commissioner
  • Becca Martin, Director, Government Relations & Economic Development, Cargill
  • Beth McGuire, Vice President, Provider Marketing and Communications, UnitedHealthcare
  • Josh Ortiz, Manager, Community Relations & Youth Engagement, Minnesota Twins Baseball Club
  • Habiba Rashid, Associate Director, Minnesota Council of Churches
  • April Riordan, Non-Profit Consultant and Strategy & Operations Director, Camdentown Minneapolis
  • Bobby Rogers, Sr. Art Director of African American Style, Target Corporation
  • Paul Sand, Senior Attorney, Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Minnesota
  • Jessica Seibert, County Administrator, Aitkin County
  • Samantha Sencer-Mura, Executive Director, 826 MSP
  • Laura Smith, Senior Public Affairs Manager, ClearWay Minnesota
  • Lue Vang, Accountant, The McKnight Foundation
  • Shannon Watson, Director of Public Affairs, Saint Paul Area Chamber of Commerce
  • Audrey D. Williams, Kinship Worker, Lutheran Social Service
  • Jonathan Wong, Regional Communications Specialist, Minnesota Department of Human Rights 

Humphrey School Policy Fellows Alumni Board 2020–2021

Chair: JoAnn Birkholz (2015–16), Medica Foundation
Staff/Advisor: Sara Benzkofer

  • Braynell Danue Estrada Britton (2019–20), US Bank
  • E. David Dively (2018–19), Minnesota Council on Disability
  • Amy Fredregill (2008–09), Managing Director, Minnesota Sustainable Growth Coalition, Environmental Initiative
  • Jess Anna Glover (2015–16), Land Stewardship Project 
  • Shannon Gregory (2019–20), Minnesota Assistance Council for Veterans
  • Darla Kashian (2015–16), RBC Wealth Management
  • Jake Loesch (2017–18), Minnesota Department of Transportation
  • Josh Ney (2017–18), Alzheimer's Association of MN-ND
  • Jeanette Purcell (2017–18), Purcell Consulting, LLC
  • Summra Shariff (2017–18), Twin Cities Diversity in Practice
  • Lucas Sjostrom (2018–19), Minnesota Milk
  • Amy Strenge (2018–19), Minnesota Public Employees Retirement Association
  • Curt Yoakum (2005–06), Minnesota Department of Administration