Mayor Kevin Johnson unveiled the future leaders of Sacramento at Tuesday’s press conference, introducing 13 of the nation’s brightest young people, who will spend the summer working on city issues like homelessness, childhood literacy, downtown revitalization and green development as part of the Mayor’s Fellowship and Internship Program.
Johnson said that the program, which builds upon the Volunteer Sacramento Initiative, has been the “brainchild” of his chief of staff, Kunal Merchant.
The mayor’s office has partnered with "the best universities in the country and the region," recruiting students from schools like Harvard, Stanford, UC Davis and Sacramento State, Merchant said.
Stressing the idea of "novice leadership," Merchant explained that those students who have no prior experience in the public service sector are still encouraged to apply, noting that talented young people are capable of "rising to the occasion" when placed in a challenging role.
He added that the program aims to be the "city of Sacramento’s version of the White House Fellows Program," in that it strives to be diverse and selective while presenting participants with opportunities to complete "real work" on projects like Think BIG Sacramento, Safe Ground Sacramento and the Greenwise initiative.
"We want to put them in high-need areas, wherever we think the biggest opportunities are to make an impact," Johnson said.
The mayor’s group of interns, who work full-time during the summer for eight to 10 weeks in policy, media and communications, is composed of undergraduate-level students. Mayoral fellows are graduate students who work full-time strictly on policy issues.
Merchant announced that a third position, the leadership fellow, has been added to the Fellowship and Internship Program this year. The position lasts for one year and is conducted through the Harvard Business School, which chose the mayor’s office as one of eight organizations across the country to benefit from the placement of a leadership fellow.
This year’s mayoral leadership fellow is Mariah Sheriff, a Harvard Business School graduate who said she will be advising the mayor on "all matters related to education, on both the policy and initiative side."
Mayoral Fellow Tarren Corbett, a student at the UC Davis Graduate School of Management, is spending her summer working on the mayor’s third grade reading campaign, the goal of which is to ensure that within the next 10 years, all third graders in the Sacramento region are reading at grade level.
Intern Sara Garzon graduated from Sacramento State with a degree in art history and is putting it to work implementing the mayor’s arts initiative, "For Arts’ Sake."
The Fellowship and Internship Program’s participants have the opportunity to work closely with Johnson both in and out of the office. Johnson said that he and the group recently attended a River Cats game and will be seeing country music star Lee Greenwood in concert tomorrow night.
"They’re trying to make me a hip and cool mayor," Johnson said.
In addition to the Fellowship and Internship Program, Johnson touched on his plan to secure funding for and determine placement of two new bridges in Sacramento and said that his staff is currently interviewing candidates for the position of city manager, to be decided within the next few weeks.