About the Program

Our Mission: Support

The Leonard D. Schaeffer Fellows in Government Service program exposes undergraduate students to government work and its impact through 10-week, full-time, high-level internship placements with elected officials and agencies at the federal, state, and local levels. While not all Schaeffer Fellows pursue a career in government, the program creates the opportunity for participants to become engaged citizens and develop an informed view of government service and operations.

Grounded in Four Key Themes

The Schaeffer Fellows program is grounded in the following four key themes. These themes are explored through a variety of sessions throughout the summer and Schaeffer Fellows Resource Guide.

Reflecting on Core Values

Defining core values, connecting values with motivation, and goal-setting.

Exploring Leadership Lessons

Professionalism, maximizing the internship environment, and engaging with alumni.

Collaborating & Networking

Building professional relationships, networking, and making the most of mentoring.

Developing Transferable Skills

Maintaining relationships, reflecting on the experience, and pursuing opportunities.

Schaeffer Fellows


Schaeffer Fellows are selected from five universities – Harvard University; Princeton University; the University of California, Berkeley; the University of Southern California; and the University of Virginia. Fellows represent a diversity of backgrounds, political perspectives, and academic disciplines. Common among them is their interest in learning more about public service and the role of government. Schaeffer Fellows:

  • interact with government officials and constituents
  • track legislation
  • conduct research
  • draft policy memos and constituent letters
  • attend meetings, hearings, and events
  • support program development and implementation
  • contribute to daily office operations
  • develop lasting professional networks with government officials and other interns

Since 2015, the program has supported 318 undergraduates in over 160 different government offices and agencies. The program will continue to support up to fifty Fellows each summer, and Schaeffer Fellow alumni will remain engaged through program events and as mentors.

Our Fellows

Meet Our Team


Erica Lovano McCann, Ed.D.

Executive Director

Dr. Erica Lovano McCann has been with the Leonard D. Schaeffer Fellows in Government Service program since its inaugural year at the University of Southern California where she serves as Assistant Vice Provost for Undergraduate Education. Erica works closely on developing strategic partnerships, liaising with participating universities, and overseeing the implementation of programming and events. As the program grows, Erica works closely with Leonard Schaeffer and the Schaeffer Fellows Advisory Board furthering the mission and vision of the program.


Willa Erickson, M.Ed.

Assistant Director

Willa Erickson began working with the Leonard D. Schaeffer Fellows in Government Service program in January 2019 to assist with planning program events, communicating with the national cohort of Schaeffer Fellows and alumni, and continuing to build a strong program identity. She facilitates the Alumni Ambassador program and maintains the Online Community. Willa also plays a dual role at the University of Southern California coordinating the University’s cohort selection and internship matching process.

Contact Us

Our staff is available to answer questions about the Schaeffer Fellows program, partnerships, and events.