Staff and Partners

Central Program Staff

Central program staff coordinate professional development opportunities and host networking events for the national cohort of fifty Schaeffer Fellows in addition to providing one-on-one support to Fellows during the summer. Program staff also stay engaged with the program’s growing alumni base to offer professional development opportunities and recruit alumni to serve as mentors, ambassadors, and guest speakers. Staff serve as ex-officio members on the Schaeffer Fellows Advisory Board and work closely with founder Leonard Schaeffer to establish and benchmark strategic goals.

In 2023, central program staff focused on developing and implementing a comprehensive communications plan, expanding opportunities for Fellows to connect directly with one another about their unique internship experiences, increasing clarity around Alumni Ambassador responsibilities, and collaborating with University Partners to ensure Fellows have the tools they need to build a productive relationship with their assigned mentor.


Executive Director

Erica Lovano McCann, Ed.D.

Erica Lovano McCann has been with the 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.


Assistant Director

Willa Erickson, M.Ed.

Willa Erickson began working with the 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 coordinates the University of Southern California selection and placement process for USC’s Schaeffer Fellows.

University Partners

Five affiliated university programs select ten Schaeffer Fellows, and identify internships and alumni mentors.


Harvard Kennedy School Institute of Politics


Princeton Internships in Civic Service (PICS)


Matsui Center for Politics and Public Service


Academic Honors and Fellowships


The Miller Center & UVA Career Center


"Over the last two years, I have worked with the Schaeffer Fellows program via Princeton Internships in Civic Service (PICS) and find the program to not only be a benefit to the students who participate, but those of us in its orbit. Through my participation in the Annual Summit, I have made connections across the schools that host Fellows as well as staff members of the national program."

Emily Sharples, Program Director for PICS, Princeton University

Institutional Partners

The Brookings Institution and RAND Corporation serve as key institutional partners. They help identify public service researchers and leaders who participate as speakers during the Summit and extend invitations to Schaeffer Fellows and program alumni for learning and networking opportunities.