Washington, D.C. - June 11, 1999 - The White House announced today the selection of 16 individuals for the 1999-2000 White House Fellowship program. The incoming Fellows will be the 35th class to participate in the program, and the first White House Fellows of the new millennium. Over half of the winners are members of minority groups including four Asian-Americans, three African-Americans and three with Hispanic/Latino origins.
Eleven to 19 Fellows are selected each year to serve the President as full-time, paid special assistants to Cabinet members and senior White House staff. The Fellowship program runs from September 1 through August 31 of each year. During their year of service, the Fellows work closely with leaders in government to help draft and review legislation, research various public policy initiatives, respond to Congressional inquiries, write speeches, and conduct policy briefings.
"The 16 men and women selected as White House Fellows are notable for their exceptionally diverse backgrounds and common dedication to public service," said Jackie Blumenthal, the program's director. "They will serve their country well."
This year's winners bring a broad spectrum of talent and abilities to the program. The group includes a doctor, a police lieutenant, a bioethicist and three military officers (one Navy, two Army). The legal profession is well represented also (eight with J.D. degrees, three who practice and one law professor). Four of the winners work in non-profit organizations, two work in business and one in city government (Chicago). They come from Alabama, New York, Illinois, Indiana, Texas, Arizona, California, North Carolina and Virginia. One grew up in Harlem, one in Chicago's Cabrini Green housing project. One was born in Sri Lanka, another in South Africa and one is the grandson of a Hispanic migrant farmer and the son of a Korean War refugee. (See attached bios on each winner.)
This remarkable group of potential national leaders was chosen from among a pool of 29 National Finalists who were selected by eight different panels of prominent citizens in cities across the country. The group of National Finalists met during the first weekend in June in Alexandria, VA, with the President's Commission on White House Fellowships. The 32 members of the Commission, leaders in their fields, spent three-and-a-half days interviewing and socializing with the National Finalists and then recommended 16 of them to the President for appointment as White House Fellows.
The strictly non-partisan program has flourished under seven Presidents and the 500-plus alumni of the program have gone on to become leaders in all fields of endeavor, fulfilling the fellowship's mission to encourage active citizenship and service to the nation. Previous Fellows include: Gen. Wesley K. Clark, Supreme Allied Commander, Europe; Tom Johnson, CEO of CNN; Julia V. Taft, Assistant Secretary of State for Population, Refugees and Migration; Colin L. Powell, Chairman of America's Promise and former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff; Doris Kearns Goodwin, Pulitzer Prize-winning author and historian; and Paul Gigot of the Wall Street Journal.
The White House Fellowship program, established by President Lyndon B. Johnson in 1964, is designed to provide gifted and highly motivated Americans who are early in their chosen careers with some first-hand experience of governing the nation and a sense of personal involvement in the leadership of society. In addition to working full-time, the fellows also participate in an education program that includes off-the-record meetings with high-ranking government officials, scholars, journalists and private-sector leaders as well as travel, both domestic and international, to explore U.S. policy in action. White House Fellows, whose average age is typically 32 or 33, are expected to have a record of remarkable achievement early in their careers, the skills required to serve at the highest levels of government, the potential to be leaders in their professions, and a proven commitment to public service.
To obtain an application for the 2000-2001 program, please write to the White House Fellows Program, 712 Jackson Place, N.W., Washington, D.C. 20503. Only U.S. citizens may apply, and employees of the Federal government are not eligible unless they are career military personnel. The application deadline will be February 1, 2000. The fellowship program runs from September 1 through August 31 of every year.
Khalid Azim, 34, an investment banker, is a Vice President at Morgan Stanley Dean Witter in Hong Kong. Azim grew up in Harlem but was educated in Massachusetts with help from the A Better Chance (ABC) program. He graduated from Pitzer College and has an M.B.A. from the Darden Graduate School of Business Administration at the University of Virginia. Azim raises billions of dollars of debt capital for Asian issuers by providing financial services to Asian banks, corporations and government entities. During the Asian financial crisis, he developed and designed a financial structure for the largest Thai bank to raise regulatory capital when the capital markets were effectively shut down. Azim served five years in the U.S. Navy where he became the only minority officer in his submarine squadron and participated in Desert Shield and Desert Storm. Through the Student Sponsorship Program, he mentors a 16-year-old boy and pays the youth's tuition to a private school. Azim is also active in A Better Chance and Big Brothers. While in the military, Azim was involved in the Navy's Adopt-a-School program.
Esther T. Benjamin, 30, is a manager in the Financial Management Consulting Group of Grant Thornton LLP in Vienna, VA. A native of Sri Lanka, Benjamin moved with her family to the United States when she was 13. She received an M.A. in Applied Economics and an M.A. in International Affairs from American University. Benjamin advises government agencies, including the U.S. Patent Office, and agency chief financial officers on financial and cost management issues. She has also advised the Commander of the Defense Logistics Services Center on privatization and helped facilitate a high-level decision-making process on Navy infrastructure modernization for the Assistant Secretary of the Navy for Installations and Environment. Benjamin was the youngest person appointed United Nations Humanitarian Affairs Officer during the humanitarian crisis in Somalia, where she coordinated aid for almost one million people. She also worked for the Brookings Institution, contributing macroeconomic analysis of the World Bank's policies over the past 50 years. She co-founded the Good Samaritan Fund, which finances education for the victims of civil war in the village in which she was born in Sri Lanka. Benjamin is a member of the Board of Directors of the National Urban Coalition, co-chair of the Development Finance Workgroup and is a nominee for the Board of Directors of the Society for International Development.
John (JB) Buxton, 29, is a consultant to the Institute for Education and Government at Columbia University and an M.P.A. candidate at the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs at Princeton University. A native of New Hampshire, he now calls North Carolina home. At the Institute, which assists the nation's governors in improving public schools, he serves as a consultant to the director, drafting position papers and conducting research. Buxton has taught political science at a South African university and English in a U.S. high school. He helped to run a statewide teacher preparation scholarship program in North Carolina and served as the policy/research director for the principal group seeking school reform in the state. Buxton served on the organizing committees for a statewide conference on poverty and for the North Carolina Pan African Games. He also helped launch a George Soros-funded initiative to bring after-school programs to all New York City public schools, tutored in a Trenton high school and served as an advisor to entering students in his graduate program.
Daniel F. Feldman, 31, is an attorney in the International Finance Group at Morrison & Foerster LLP in San Francisco. A native of the San Francisco area, he graduated from Tufts University, has a J.D. from Columbia University Law School and an M.P.A. from the Woodrow Wilson School of International and Public Affairs at Princeton University. Feldman specializes in financing infrastructure projects in developing nations. He also spends 25% of his time on pro bono international human rights issues, including advocacy work for the Lawyers Committee for Human Rights. After college, Feldman worked as newspaper reporter in Johannesburg, South Africa. After being awarded a Columbia University Human Rights Fellowship, he spent a summer helping the African National Congress' Constitutional Drafting Committee by analyzing equal protection clauses for inclusion in the new Constitution, and he later returned to the country to clerk for South Africa's new Constitutional Court. After law school, Feldman clerked for Judge Cecil F. Poole of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit and then was awarded a Henry Luce Scholarship to work in Hong Kong for a year on political transition and human rights issues. He has also served as an international election monitor in South Africa, Hong Kong, Taiwan, and Bosnia and Herzegovina. Feldman helped to found the Legal Services for Entrepreneurs, which provides pro bono legal counsel to low-income individuals who are starting or expanding businesses in distressed neighborhoods. He also has served as a mentor to underprivileged school children in San Francisco, New York and Johannesburg.
Juan M. Garcia III, 32, is a Flag Lieutenant in the U.S. Navy and the Aide-de-Camp in London to the Deputy Commander in Chief of U.S. Naval Forces Europe, who is directing the Joint Task Force designing contingency operations in Kosovo. Garcia, whose hometown is Corpus Christi, graduated from UCLA and became a Naval officer after receiving a joint J.D./M.P.A. degree from Harvard. Prior to his London assignment Garcia was stationed at Naval Air Station Barber's Point, Hawaii where he accumulated more than 1,200 hours piloting the P-3 Orion. He flew 30 armed missions in support of Operation Desert Thunder in the Persian Gulf, including an emergency landing during a sandstorm. While in college, he organized and taught English and U.S. civics classes for candidates for immigration amnesty at an East Los Angeles Jesuit mission. Garcia has also served as a legal advisor and counselor to shelters in Washington, D.C., Corpus Christi and Honolulu and started "The Sky is the Limit," a program that introduces youth from troubled homes to the opportunities available in naval aviation.
Sunil Garg, 32, is an assistant to Chicago Mayor Richard Daley. A native of Pittsburgh, Garg was raised in Toledo, OH. He graduated from the University of Chicago, earned a M.P.P. from the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard and is currently an M.B.A. candidate at the University of Chicago Graduate School of Business. Garg manages Mayorial initiatives primarily on economic development and re-engineering city departments. He also serves as the Mayor's principal advisor on inner-city issues. He is currently overseeing the development of a new $4 million public-private organization to lead the business attraction, retention and expansion efforts of the City. After graduating from the Kennedy School, Garg was an associate with The Chapin Hall Center for Children, a research and development center at the University of Chicago. While there, he co-authored three papers that have contributed to the understanding of practitioners, policy-makers and funders of the conditions facing inner-city residents and the benefits, limitations and possible unintended consequences of the different strategies being implemented to revitalize these neighborhoods. He also created a new investment strategy for a $40 million foundation fund to enhance the skills of youth workers. Garg helped to launch the Open Book Program, an after-school literacy program on Chicago's South Side, as well as the University of Chicago's chapter of a national community service fraternity. While an undergraduate at the University of Chicago, he took a leave of absence to conduct independent research in Nicaragua about the Contra war.
Melissa M. Goldstein, 28, is a consultant to the National Bioethics Advisory Commission and a post-doctoral fellow in bioethics and health policy at Johns Hopkins and Georgetown universities. A native of Florence, AL, she graduated from the University of Virginia and has a J.D. from Yale Law School. Goldstein is an adjunct professor of law at the Georgetown University Law Center and a group instructor in Clinical Ethics at the Georgetown University Medical Center. She is also a consultant to the National Bioethics Advisory Commission. During law school, she was a student attorney at Yale Legal Services and helped design the Yale Medical School's ethics curriculum. While a law student, Goldstein also guided the University of Alabama at Birmingham hospital's compliance with "patient dumping" statutes and investigated cases brought under the Vaccine Compensation Act for the U.S. Department of Justice. After law school, she clerked on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit and for the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York. Goldstein writes a quarterly column for the American Society for Bioethics and Humanities and sits on the Ethics Committee of the Columbia Hospital for Women in Washington, D.C. As a volunteer attorney with the Whitman-Walker Clinic in Washington, D.C., she represents HIV-positive clients by drafting medical directives, investigating claims of employment discrimination and negotiating custody disputes. Goldstein has performed in more than 20 theatrical productions in Northern Alabama and has appeared in college Shakespeare plays and television commercials.
Gary Hall, 32, is an attorney with Gardner, Carton & Douglas in Chicago. He grew up in inner-city Chicago and graduated from Howard Unversity. Hall has a J.D. from the University of Notre Dame Law School and also studied at the Concannon International Law Centre in London, where he worked as an extern with the law firm of Mayer, Brown & Platt. At Gardner, he provides legal counsel on a variety of corporate finance matters, including equity and debt public offers, mergers and acquisitions and SEC compliance. Prior to law school, Hall worked as a Senior Budget Analyst in Chicago Mayor Richard Daley's Office of Budget and Management and later as a Financial Officer of Real Estate for the Department of General Services. While in city government, he led a task force that significantly improved City collections of water and sewer usage fees, served on a strategy committee to streamline city services and was the youngest person ever selected to participate in the City's Intergovernmental Executive Development Program. Hall founded Imani, a non-profit organization that raised funds and public awareness for such causes as famine in Somalia and HIV/AIDS in minority communities, and spearheaded the first fundraising campaign for the Chicago Chapter of 100 Black Men to expand its mentoring and tutoring programs and to endow scholarships for youth in impoverished Chicago neighborhoods. He also serves on the Board of Democratic Leadership for the 21st Century.
Jacqueline F. Lain, 30, is Assistant Director of Governmental Relations for the Texas Association of School Boards in Austin. A native of Johannesburg, South Africa, Lain moved to Dallas when she was 8 years old. After receiving her B.A. and J.D. from the University of Texas, she practiced law, specializing in defending schools districts in governance, employment and student discipline matters. She also edited the Texas School Administrators' Legal Digest, a monthly journal for school administrators and lawyers. At the Texas Association of School Boards, Lain provides legal advice to school board members and helps to shape the laws that govern Texas public schools. As an undergraduate at the University of Texas, she won the Dale Miller Scholarship for a summer internship on Capitol Hill and the Presidential Leadership Award, and in 1990, was named the University's Outstanding Female Student. She also was one of 10 students to participate in the Texas-Soviet Exchange Program, a student-organized exchange program between the University of Texas and Irkutsk University in Siberia. During college, Lain co-mediated juvenile gang disputes and last year co-chaired the Volunteers Committee for Austin's First Race for the Cure to raise money for breast cancer research and treatment.
Christopher M. Moore, 37, is a police lieutenant in the San Jose Police Department and an attorney in Pleasanton, CA. A native of the San Francisco Bay area, he graduated from the University of California at Berkeley and has a J.D. from Lincoln Law School of San Jose and an M.P.A. from San Jose State University. A 16-year veteran of the San Jose police force, Moore is the youngest command officer in the department. He is responsible for the effective deployment, morale and discipline of 42 police officers. He has also served in the Patrol, Street Crimes, Burglary, Crime Prevention and Field Training units and as department spokesperson in the Office of the Chief of Police. Moore supervised the creation and implementation of two nationally recognized youth violence prevention programs: Challenges and Choices (C2), a violence prevention and life skills curriculum for elementary and middle school students; and Safe Alternatives and Violence Education (SAVE). He co-authored and taught the Youth Access to Tobacco enforcement curriculum to law enforcement officers across California. Moore volunteers with the Northern California Unit of Recording for the Blind and Dyslexic and is a member of the Bench Bar, Media and Police Committee of the Santa Clara County Bar Association.
Peter F. Najera, 33, is a Major in the U.S. Army and a Strategist and Policy analyst at Army Headquarters at the Pentagon. A native of San Francisco, he considers Tucson, AZ home now. At the Pentagon, Najera develops strategy and provides policy assessment to senior Army leaders. He also has worked on the draft of the President's National Security Strategy and the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff's National Military Strategy. Najera graduated from the University of Notre Dame and received an M.P.A. from the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard. He spent four years in various armor units in Germany where he patrolled the Cold War border and represented the United States in a NATO tank gunnery competition. Najera served in southwest Asia in support of Operation Desert Shield and Desert Storm, after which he was awarded the Bronze Star medal for distinguished service in combat and, along with his men, the Valorous Unit Citation for "extraordinary heroism." After the Gulf War, Najera was selected to be the Aide-de-Camp to the Commanding General, Seventh Army Training Command in Germany. In 1995, he was chosen as one of the Army's General Douglas MacArthur Leadership Award winners. Najera builds homes for Habitat for Humanity and bowls with Special Olympics participants. He also serves on the board of the Hispanic Alumni of Notre Dame and writes for Officer Review.
Barrye L. Price, 36, is a Major in the U.S. Army and Assistant Chief of Staff G1 for the 13th Corps Support Command at Fort Hood, TX. A native of Gary, IN, he graduated from the University of Houston and has an M.A. in history from Texas A&M University and in 1997, became the first African-American to obtain a Ph.D. in history in the 122-year history of Texas A&M. Price is responsible for personnel readiness management, assignments and strength accounting and personnel reporting for 5,500 soldiers. He has also served at Fort Polk, LA, and in Doha, Kuwait and Fulda, Germany. Price spent two years as an Assistant Professor of Military History at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point. At West Point, he served on the Dean's Human Resource Council, as a Faculty Volunteer Outreach Representative and as the Recruiting Officer Representative to the Army Men's Basketball Team. Price was the 1997 winner of the Arter-Darby Military Writing Award from the Army's Command and General Staff College. He co-founded African-American Men Making a Difference and served as a volunteer with HOSTS (Help One Student to Succeed). In 1996, Price organized a winter coat collection drive for the homeless that resulted in a community-wide donation of more than 3,000 pounds of clothing to the Leavenworth, KS, Chapter of the Salvation Army.
Reynaldo A. Valencia, 34, is Associate Professor of Law and Founder and Director of the Center for Latina/Latino Studies at St. Mary's University School of Law in San Antonio, TX, where he teaches courses on corporation law, corporate bankruptcy, race and the law and gender and the law. He also serves as an adjunct Professor of Law at Texas Tech University in his hometown of Lubbock, TX. Valencia graduated from Stanford and has a J.D. from Harvard Law School. He earned an M.A. in Sociology from Stanford University where he was awarded a Ford Foundation Doctoral Fellowship for Minorities. During law school, he returned to his hometown to assist in litigation to desegregate the local school system, which resulted in the construction of a new junior high school in a predominantly Hispanic area of the city. After law school, Valencia was an associate in the Dallas office of the international law firm of Jones, Day, Reavis & Pogue, the second largest law firm in the world, where he concentrated on commercial bankruptcy and commercial litigation. At the age of 25, Valencia became the youngest faculty member in the history of Texas Tech School of Law. Valencia serves as the faculty advisor to the Hispanic Law Students Association at St. Mary's.
Timothy C. Wu, 36, is Director of Development at the Support Center for Nonprofit Management in San Francisco, the nation's largest nonprofit management consulting and technical assistance firm devoted exclusively to working with nonprofits. A native of New York City, Wu has also lived in Hartsdale, NY and Singapore. He graduated from Princeton University and has a J.D. from Harvard Law School. As a high school student at the Singapore American High School, Wu volunteered as an English teacher in Vietnamese refugee camps and as a reader for Talking Books for the Blind. As an undergraduate at Princeton University, Tim received the W. Sanderson Detwiler Award given to the student judged by his classmates to have contributed the most to the class during four years on campus. After graduation he became the youngest person and first Asian-American elected to Princeton's Board of Trustees. Prior to law school, Wu was an Associate Producer for CBS News in New York. While in law school, Wu was a member of the Harvard Board of Student Advisors, served as co-chair of the Ames Moot Court committee and spent two years with the Harvard Negotiation Projection, which develops and implements alternative dispute resolution methodologies. Wu is vice-president of the Small Change Foundation, a family philanthropic foundation that supports non-political organizations working for social justice and the advancement of human rights. He also sits on the boards of directors of Project Inform, an AIDS information and advocacy group; Continuum HIV Day Services, an adult day health center serving indigent people with AIDS in San Francisco; and Frameline, the International Lesbian and Gay Film Festival.
Lance E. Wyatt, 32, is Senior Resident in the Division of General Surgery at the University of California, Los Angeles. A native of Southern California, Wyatt received his M.D. from UCLA. As Senior resident, he oversees all aspects of patient care and supervises junior residents. While a plastic surgery research fellow, he was Principal Investigator on four research projects focusing on bone development, repair and regeneration. He currently is Co-Investigator on a Veteran's Administration Merit Review Grant that focuses on craniofacial bone formation and aging. Wyatt was chosen for a summer research fellowship at the National Institutes of Health where he received the Exceptional Summer Student Award for his work at the National Institute of Neurologic Disorders and Stroke. Wyatt is co-founder and Vice President of Health Relief International, a nonprofit medical service organization committed to providing health care worldwide to indigent adults and children. He is also co-founder of the African-American Surgical Resident Forum, an organization for African-American surgical residents who want to become academic surgeons. Wyatt is a member of the Black American Political Association of California and serves on the Youth Empowerment Committee of The New Leaders, a nonprofit public benefit group.
Ariel Zwang, 35, is Vice President for Operations at the Women's Housing and Economic Development Corporation in the Bronx which provides job training, low-income housing, social services and economic development activities. Zwang is responsible for all infrastructure areas, including accounting/financial, computing, human resources and general administration. She also oversees two "social ventures": a food business and a fitness center. A native of Brooklyn, NY, she graduated from Harvard and has an M.B.A. from Harvard Business School. From 1992-1995, Zwang was Special Assistant to the Chancellor of the New York City Board of Education, which involved writing speeches and other policy documents, helping to create new programs and improve existing ones, and conducting inter-agency negotiations. She has also worked as a management consultant at the Boston Consulting Group and at the investment bank, Morgan Stanley. While in business school, Zwang began a program in which business students helped recent immigrants find jobs. She is active with the United Jewish Appeal of New York, serves as a board member of the YWCA of Brooklyn, is a member of the alumnae board of directors at Miss Porter's School and is a trustee of Harvard Hillel.