The David Gergen Summer Fellowship Program honors David Gergen, founding director of the Center for Public Leadership and a long-time mentor and supporter of Harvard Kennedy School students over two decades. The fellowship is established in recognition of David’s extraordinary commitment to developing the capacity for principled, effective public leadership and in appreciation for the critical role “learning by doing” plays in leadership development.

Thanks to the generosity of CPL alumni and others in the CPL community who wish to express their gratitude and carry forward David’s legacy of mentorship, the Gergen Summer Fellowship supports trailblazing public service and leadership opportunities.

This highly competitive program enables a select number of Harvard Kennedy School students to gain meaningful, practical, hands-on experience and develop important networks through summer internships in government or nonprofit service.

The Gergen Summer Fellowship provides financial support through stipends to students to cover living and work-related travel expenses during a 10-week summer internship in public service or the non-profit sector.

If your organization is interested in working with a Gergen Summer Fellow, or if you'd like more information on the program, please contact


2024 Gergen Summer Fellow

United States Department of Labor, Employment and Training Administration 


2024 Gergen Summer Fellow

City of Detroit, Office of the Mayor and Office of the Chief Financial Officer 


2024 Gergen Summer Fellow

Tony Blair Institute, Government Innovation Team 


2024 Gergen Summer Fellow

New Politics 


2024 Gergen Summer Fellow

United States Department of Health and Human Services, Office of the Deputy Secretary

The Center for Public Leadership also supports a summer internship at the Robin Hood Foundation through the David Gergen  Summer Fellowship Program.  


Robin Hood Foundation Intern


The Gergen Summer Fellowship Program is open to current U.S. and international Harvard Kennedy School students who will return to HKS in the fall.

  • Applicants must be returning students enrolled in a two-year degree or concurrent/joint degree program at HKS.
  • The public service internship must be full-time for ten weeks with a government, non-governmental, or nonprofit organization.

The following are NOT supported through the Gergen Summer Fellowship Program:

  • Students taking a leave of absence during the previous spring, following fall, or full academic year.
  • Internships in the for-profit/private sector or working for a political campaign.
  • Research with Harvard faculty. (Students interested in conducting research with a faculty member should work directly with that faculty member and the appropriate research center in seeking funding.)

The Gergen Fellowship Program aims to foster a dedicated cohort who benefit from a unique fellowship experience and contribute as active members of the broader CPL community. So, while CPL does not prohibit Gergen Fellowship finalists from applying to other Harvard-sponsored internship programs and fellowships, if a Gergen finalist accepts another Harvard-sponsored internship fellowship, they are no longer eligible to be a Gergen Fellow.

Students participating in a join/concurrent degree program outside of Harvard will be asked to attend some fellowship events remotely.

Applications must include:

  • Resumé
  • Statement of intent to pursue work in government or nonprofit service over the summer, explaining the skills students seek to develop through their summer internship, the kind or organization they are interested in, and the sort of work they seek to do.
  • Personal statement articulating the student’s dedication to public service, their vision for their career in public service, and how support from the Gergen Summer Fellowship will enable their work during the summer and into the student’s future.

While applicants who already have secured summer employment in government or nonprofit are welcome to apply, applicants do not have to have a prepared job offer. This program is designed to support students in finding meaningful work in public service. After reviewing applications, CPL will select Finalists and offer them access to a network of alumni mentors and internship host organizations to support Finalists' job search and leadership development. Finalists will have up to four months during the spring semester to explore job opportunities and secure a summer internship.

Finalists will be selected based on applicant’s demonstration of:

  • A compelling case for how the Gergen Fellowship will continue their demonstrated dedication to public service and public leadership and how the Gergen Fellowship will enable them to pursue opportunities that otherwise might not be possible.
  • A commitment to summer work that 1) advances the public, common good, and 2) has potential to serve as a springboard for post-graduation careers in government or nonprofit service.

In order to be confirmed as Gergen Fellows, finalists will need to submit:

  • Proof of summer employment (such as an offer letter)
  • Compensation information detailing pay offered by host organization/employer
  • Signed CPL fellowship allowance paperwork

Selection Schedule

Specific 2024-2025 program deadlines will be posted in August 2024.

A committee of CPL faculty and staff will review applications and select Finalists for the Gergen Fellowship, with application review beginning in December 2024. Finalists can expect to receive notification in the first half of the spring semester and will spend the semester pursuing a specific summer internship.

By the end of April 2025, Finalists must submit a letter of agreement (or similar documentation) confirming their summer internship placement, including a detailed description of the work to be completed, who is supervising the work, and the level of compensation being offered. Finalists whose summer employment aligns with the spirit of the fellowship will be announced as Gergen Summer Fellows in May 2025.

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