Loading

The Legislative Fellows Program Co-sponsored by the Delaware General Assembly and the University of Delaware in cooperation with Delaware State University and Wesley College

One-of-a-Kind Opportunity

Launched in 1982, the Legislative Fellows program is a prestigious, six-month placement with Delaware’s General Assembly. The proximity of our state capital, Dover, to our institutions of higher education makes this unique opportunity possible. Students are able to conduct research for and provide staffing support to the legislature while maintaining full-time status at the University of Delaware, Delaware State University, and Wesley College.

For students, the experience offers a valuable opportunity to observe and contribute to the political decision-making process. For the Delaware General Assembly, the program provides the research skills of the Fellows as well as a link to University resources.

Through their nonpartisan, in-depth research, Fellows assist legislators in addressing critical issues facing the state. In recent years, Fellows have worked on areas as diverse as education reform, pandemic response, and juvenile justice.

Program Highlights

Each Selected Legislative Fellow...

  • ​​​Competes in a rigorous application process.
  • Receives a competitive scholarship.
  • Serves in a Senate or House Caucus, the Division of Research, or the Office of the Controller General.
  • Travels (conditions permitting) to Legislative Hall three days each week during the legislative session, from January through June.
  • Takes State and Local Government Management and Policy, a three-credit graduate seminar, linking their hands-on practical experience with their academic coursework.

Professional Experience

Legislative Fellows receive a remarkable range of opportunities to gain professional skills and experience. Fellows benefit from an insider's view of the public sector.

Fellows have the opportunity to:

  • Affect current legislation by providing timely, nonpartisan, in-depth research on critical issues facing the state.
  • Become acquainted with state leaders in both the General Assembly and the executive branch.
  • Develop an understanding of the legislative process that will be useful in a wide variety of careers in the public, nonprofit, and private sectors.

Activities

The Legislative Fellows have responded to constituents’ concerns and problems, drafted resolutions and preliminary legislation, and provided staffing support for House and Senate committees.

Past activities undertaken by Legislative Fellows include:

  • Organizing a juvenile auto-theft prevention symposium.
  • Producing a comparative study of municipal electric rates throughout the state.
  • Staffing the Land-Use and Economic Development Committee and assisting in coordinating the Bi-State Land-Use Symposium.
  • Producing a comparative analysis of New Jersey welfare legislation and the Delaware General Assistance Program.
  • Analyzing reports concerning the Ferris School and proposals for remodeling its facilities and programs.
  • Investigating the need for drug and alcohol counseling services for children in Delaware.
  • Researching the costs and benefits of recycling.

The Best Parts

The 2020 Legislative Fellows had the unusual experience of transitioning to a virtual work setting during the COVID-19 pandemic. Their research contributed to informing the state’s crisis management. The Fellows said:

“The best part of serving as a Fellow is the high impact of my research in Delaware communities. I have the opportunity to learn about a broad realm of topics, some of which I never expected would be so strongly impacted by policy-making. I find this work to be very rewarding.” — Cara Gannon (BA ’20), House Minority Caucus
“The best part of being a Fellow is working with the Division of Research and their wonderful staff. The people I get to work with are some of the most intellectual, genuine people that I have ever had the chance to work with. They have been wonderful role models and the work they do on a daily basis is to help the people of Delaware to the best of their ability.” —Danielle Littmann (MPA ’20), Division of Research
“The best part of being a Fellow to me is the opportunity to learn first-hand how the legislative process works, to observe the legislators and how they differ in their approaches to governance, and to get an unfiltered perspective of what it means to work in a state legislature.” — Jason Wardrup (MPA ’20), Senate Minority Caucus

We asked our alumni how the program has impacted them. Watch the video to see their responses!

Since 1982, countless hardworking and dedicated students have participated in the Legislative Fellows Program. A few of our alumni are listed below. See if you recognize any of them!

Alumni: Across the State and Beyond

  • The Honorable John Carney, Governor, State of Delaware (1984 Fellow)
  • Dr. Devona Williams, Chair of the Delaware State University Board of Trustees and Foundation (1987/1988 Fellow)
  • Prabhu Palani, Chief Investment Officer, City of San Jose Retirement System (1993 Fellow)
  • Evelyn Nestlerode, Controller at State of Delaware, Administrative Office of the Courts (1995 Fellow)
  • Ann Marie Noone Townshend, City Manager, City of Lewes, Delaware (1995 Fellow)
  • Anna Wojewodzki Hunter, Public Information and Marketing Director at Howard County Recreation and Parks (1997 Fellow)
  • Mari Savickis, Vice President – Public Policy, College of Healthcare Information Management Executives (CHIME) (1999 Fellow)
  • Marcus Henry, General Manager, Department of Community Services, New Castle County, Delaware (2000 Fellow)
  • Leah Woodall, Section Chief – Family Health Systems, Delaware Division of Public Health (2000 Fellow)
  • Andrew Haines, Town Manager, Town of Smyrna, Delaware (2002 Fellow)
  • Sarah Hench Grunewald, Vice President, Community Impact at Delaware Community Foundation (2002/2003 Fellow)
  • Amy Lazor Miguel, Financial Policy Analyst, Administrative Office of the United States Courts (2003 Fellow)
  • Emily Falcon, Chief Financial Officer, Colonial School District (2004 Fellow)
  • John Collins, Founding Partner, FS Vector (2009 Fellow)
  • The Honorable David Bentz, Representative, Delaware House of Representatives (2010/2011 Fellow)
  • Damian DeStefano, Director, Delaware Division of Small Business (2011 Fellow)
  • Lauren Cutajar-Wynne Vella, Policy & Legislative Director, Department of Justice (2011 Fellow)
  • Jenna Bucsak Ahner, Executive Director, Delaware State Board of Education (2012 Fellow)
  • Kathryn “Kiki” Evinger, Chief Policy Advisor, Delaware Department of Health and Social Services (2012 Fellow)

How To Apply

All full-time graduate students and especially qualified undergraduate students of the University of Delaware, Delaware State University, and Wesley College are eligible to apply for the Legislative Fellows Program. For information about eligibility and the application process, visit IPA’s website.

Acknowledgements

The program is managed by the Institute for Public Administration (IPA), a research and public service center in the Joseph R. Biden, Jr. School of Public Policy & Administration at the University of Delaware. The program is overseen by Dr. Jerome Lewis, IPA director and managed by Lisa Moreland Allred, IPA Policy Scientist.

This Spark page was produced by Jillian Cullen, IPA Public Administration Fellow, with assistance from Lisa Moreland Allred, policy scientist; Sarah Pragg, assistant policy scientist; and Marcia Scott, policy scientist.