Policy Fellows

policy fellows at the capitol

Thank you for your interest in the Policy Fellows program! The application for the 2024-2025 cohort is now closed. The application for the 2025-2026 cohort will open in March 2025. Please fill out this form if you'd like more information about the program, including being informed of upcoming informational webinars. 

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.

Meet the 2023-2024 cohort

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 ask, “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, DC, including 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 the system through several legislative skill-building sessions.
  • Work in small groups to design and implement collaborative projects affecting important regional issues. View summaries of recent projects.

What is the impact of the Policy Fellows Program?

Filmed and Produced by Dan Collison, 2020-21 Policy Fellow