Mentoring constitutes an important component of the program, and will be provided through a range of sources:
- The Program Director and Associate Director will serve as “meta-mentors” for both fellowship and overall career mentoring.
- Each fellow will be paired with one or more National Advisory Board (NAB) members or other national expert who will serve as the fellow’s primary policy mentor, assisting them in linking with appropriate colleagues and policymakers (both inside and outside of government), and building related networks. Fellows typically have monthly calls or in-person meetings with their mentors.
- Each fellow will have a site-based mentor at his/her placement.
- “Coaches” will be identified to assist fellows in developing needed skills (e.g., communicating to policymakers and the media, negotiation skills, etc.).
- The NPO will provide transitional/post-fellowship mentoring to all alumni fellows. In addition, through involvement of alumni in ongoing fellowship activities, current and alumni fellows will be part of a network of peer mentors.
Individualized Learning Objectives and Plan
Each fellow (both residential and non-residential) will develop a set of individualized learning objectives and plan in collaboration with the NPO. The plan will include the individual’s goals for the fellowship year as well as for his/her future career development. The NPO will work with each fellow to outline the steps required for reaching his/her goals and to ensure effective and long-term use of the fellowship experience. The NPO regularly reviews this plan individually with each fellow throughout the program to help identify ways to assist the individual in meeting his/her goals.
Health Policy Orientation
Each fellow will participate in the “Health Policy Orientation: Behind the Scenes of Decision-Making in Washington” which is a program organized annually in October by AcademyHealth. The three-and-a-half day orientation offers an in-depth introduction to the key players, formal and informal policymaking processes, and critical health policy issues. The program includes presentations by well-known experts, interactive panels and group discussions, hands-on tutorials, and a congressional site visit.
American Political Science Association Congressional Fellowship Program Orientation and Other Activities
Fellows will also participate in the American Political Science Association Congressional Fellowship Program which includes a month-long intensive orientation in November focusing on the legislative process and current congressional affairs. During this time, the fellows engage in daily seminars with legislators, congressional staffers, journalists, lobbyists, political scientists and policy specialists. Past agendas included topics such as “The Role of the Senate/House Staff”; “Inside Congress: Legislating in Polarized Times”; “Health Issues in Congress”; and “How Deficits & Budgets Make a Difference” etc.
During the month-long orientation, Health and Aging Policy Fellows have ample opportunities to interview at potential placement sites in alignment with their professional background and career focus and to establish a diverse network of mentoring experts related to their policy interests. The month-long seminar also provides fellows with ample time to connect with APSA’s Congressional Fellows.
Other American Political Science Association Congressional Fellowship Program activities in which fellows are encouraged to participate include: a trip to the Member’s district (for residential fellows placed in Congress), a weeklong visit to the Canadian Parliament, and the bi-weekly Wilson Seminar Series on legislative processes as well as a one-day visit in spring to the Maryland State House in Annapolis to contrast state and federal legislative processes. Travel expenses for trips to the Member’s district and Canadian Parliament can be reimbursed by the NPO.
Aging Policy Orientation
Fellows also participate in a one-and-a-half day Aging Policy Orientation which takes place in Washington, D.C. following the AcademyHealth Health Policy Orientation. Topics to be covered in this orientation include but are not be limited to some of the major challenges in health care for the aging (Please see sample agenda).
Workshops and Team Projects
The NPO organizes two intensive weekend workshops for all fellows, which are held over a two-day period in either Washington, D.C. These workshops have an experiential and team-oriented and focus specifically on policy substance and skill building.
The first workshop (communications workshop) is run by John Beilenson and Chris Gherst from Strategic Communications and Planning and includes didactic training and experiential learning blocs. John Beilenson is also available to the fellows for individual training and assistance throughout the year. The John A. Hartford Foundation has generously provided support for this workshop (Please see sample agenda).
The second workshop (spring symposium) involves a full day symposium on substantive policy issues discussed by panels of leading policy experts. Fellows have primary responsibility in organizing and participating on the panels (Please see sample agenda).
The National Program Office organizes monthly phone calls with HAPF fellows to follow-up on and discuss their fellowship placements and projects and to address any questions or concerns the fellows might have. In addition, the fellows self-organize regular conference calls among themselves to completes a collaborative project. These projects have included “products” such as published papers, conference symposia and blogs on health policy and aging issues.
Canadian Parliamentary Exchange
The APSA Congressional Fellowship Program includes a Canadian Parliamentary Exchange. This longstanding exchange between the Fellows and their parliamentary counterparts in Canada provides an intensive comparative study of Westminster versus US-model parliamentary systems. The one-week study tours, organized by Fellows and the Interns respectively, allow participants to examine the relationship between the United States and Canada from an institutional perspective.
Each year since 1973, the APSA Fellows have planned a comprehensive, weeklong introduction to the Congress for 10 Canadian Parliamentary Interns in Washington, DC. The Canadians in turn host a select group of Fellows in Ottawa for one week. Participation in the exchange is selective and dependent upon available space.
Annual Leadership Retreat
At the end of each fellowship year, the NPO hosts a two-day Annual Leadership Retreat for current fellows and alumni, NAB members, mentors, colleagues from placement sites and invited experts. The retreat serves as a high-profile venue within which the current fellows can present their fellowship work with their mentors serving as discussants.
The National Program Office provides post-fellowship support by maintaining an alumni network, organizing alumni meetings, and offering ongoing mentoring. Alumni are invited to annual meetings and activities that the NPO organizes at the major conferences in aging. The alumni network is strengthened through various mechanisms, including the maintenance of a listserv that enables fellows to share ideas on current issues in health and aging policy.