GU Politics Announces Slate of High-Profile Fall Fellows

JEFF CIRILLO: Five big names and experts from the political sphere are due to arrive at Georgetown University this fall, with the announcement today of this semester’s cohort of Institute of Politics and Public Service fellows.

Former Gov. Jeff Colyer (COL ‘81), a Kansas Republican, and Jonathan Burks (SFS ‘99), former chief of staff to House Speaker Paul Ryan, top the list of political leaders in the cohort. The high-profile group also includes ABC News White House correspondent Karen Travers (COL ‘00, M ‘03), former White House official Stephanie Valencia, and Olivia Alair Dalton (COL ‘06), a former press secretary to First Lady Michelle Obama.

This year marks the ninth consecutive semester of the fellows program for GU Politics, which every semester brings a new batch of five figures from media and government to the Hilltop. As in previous years, fellows will aim to shed light on current events during weekly discussion groups and office hours. The fellows span the partisan spectrum, including two Republican policymakers, two Democratic figures and one journalist. 

Mo Elleithee, executive director of GU Politics, said the institute is “honored” to host the five fellows, and he hopes the “entire campus community takes advantage of their discussion groups and office hours.”

“Each semester, the GU Politics fellows help pull back the curtain on politics, helping to shed light on how it really works, and exploring with students how to make it work better,” Elleithee said. “We’re especially psyched about this class of fellows, which includes folks who have reached the top of their fields in politics, government, advocacy and media.”

In a political era defined by tectonic shifts in national Republican politics, the incoming fellows have felt those shifts firsthand. Burks was a top adviser to House Speaker Paul Ryan during President Donald Trump’s turbulent rise to power until Ryan’s resignation in 2019. Colyer, meanwhile, was ousted in a primary challenge by Trump ally Kris Kobach, who went on to lose the governor’s race to Democrat Laura Kelly in the Democratic-dominated midterm elections. As a White House correspondent, Travers has a seat inside the Trump White House and has covered some of his presidency’s major turning points.

This semester’s group is “extra special,” Elleithee said, as four of the five fellows them are Georgetown alumni themselves. Burks studied as an undergraduate in the School of Foreign Service, and Travers, Colyer and Dalton all attended the College. Before her professional reporting career, Travers was editor-in-chief of the Hoya, Georgetown’s student newspaper.

Students will get their first chance to meet the new fellows at the GU Politics Open House on Thursday, September 5, from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m.

Jeff Cirillo