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The Congressional Nuclear Security Fellowship provides the next generation of national security leaders with the opportunity to spend a year in the U.S. Congress.

Application deadline

Deadline extended: Submit your questionnaire and email supporting materials by August 31, 2018, 11:59 p.m. eastern.

Quick links

Click here to download a fellowship brochure

Skip to Frequently Asked Questions

Are you a House or Senate office interested in hosting a fellow?
Please send your inquiry to Oliver Bloom at


The Fellowship at a Glance

  • The Congressional Nuclear Security Fellowship gives the next generation of national security leaders the opportunity to spend a year in a House/Senate office.
  • Up to eight fellows selected, for a roughly equal number of Democrat and Republican offices.
  • Fellows agree to work full-time for one calendar year, typically early January through December.
  • Fellows work under the supervision of senior office staff, and have the opportunity to learn about and contribute to their office’s work on national security issues (as defined by their supervisors).
  • Fellows receive a stipend award of up to $85,000.
  • George Washington University administers the competition and identifies finalists; hosting offices interview finalists and extend offers.


  • Fellows are treated as a member of the staff and are assigned responsibilities and duties based on the needs of the office.
  • Typical Fellow responsibilities include
    • Preparing senior staff and Members/Senators for hearings, meetings, and briefings;
    • Sharing their expertise on a range of national security issues, including nuclear topics, as requested by their supervisors;
    • Answering constituent inquiries;
    • Contributing to the legislative and policy priorities of their Members/Senators, under the direction of senior office staffers.
  • Fellows are also encouraged to forge professional relationships with colleagues with an interest in nuclear/national security issues from both sides of the aisle and deepening their professional relationships with the Washington policy community.


  • Fellows are selected through a competitive process on the basis of their professional experience, interpersonal and communications skills, specialized knowledge and professional references.
  • While Fellows do not need extensive experience in nuclear policy, qualified applicants will have a strong record of professional achievement in national security roles in government, the military, academia or the private sector.
  • Ideal candidates will also have an advanced degree in a relevant field, including international affairs, economics, defense planning, military operations or an area of the physical sciences with policy relevance.
  • Applicants must be U.S. citizens at the time the Fellowship begins.
  • If applicants apply while enrolled in an academic program, they must have completed their studies by the time the fellowship begins.
  • Applicants may not be concurrent employees of the Federal government or Federal contractors at the time the fellowship begins.

Fellowship Award

  • Fellows are awarded a stipend of up to $85,000, based on past experience.
  • Fellows receive their stipends as independent contractors, are not eligible for benefits and are not considered employees of the George Washington University or the Congress.


  • The 2019 fellowship application opens in June
  • The application deadline has been extended: applications are now due August 31, 2018
  • Multiple interviews are conducted through November
  • Hosting offices make selections in late November/early December
  • Fellows begin placements in January

Application and Placement Process

  • Interested candidates who meet the eligibility requirements can apply online
  • The application consists of
    • A complete application questionnaire
    • A resume
    • A one-page statement of interest
    • A letter of recommendation from a colleague with first-hand knowledge of the individual’s professional experience and qualifications
    • (Please note, the application asks applicants to submit information for three professional references, one of whom may also contribute a letter.)
  • NSWG staff conducts initial interviews to assess an applicant’s fit and qualifications.
  • Hosting offices interview finalists and extend offers.
  • Individuals who accept a fellowship must agree to serve for a full year.
  • Direct all application materials to


2018 Fellows

Jon Cheatwood serves in the office of Senator Heidi Heitkamp (D-ND). Prior to this appointment, Jon spent 11 years as an Army officer where he led infantry teams at the platoon and company-level while deploying to both Iraq and Afghanistan.  In his final assignment, Jon taught courses in American Politics to cadets at the United States Military Academy at West Point. During the summer of 2015 he served alongside America’s diplomatic corps as a political attaché at the U.S. Embassy in Beijing. Jon holds a B.S. in American Politics from the U.S. Military Academy and a M.A. in Law and Diplomacy (MALD) from the Fletcher School at Tufts University. He is a term member at the Council on Foreign Relations.  His writing has appeared in Foreign Policy, The Diplomat, and Military Review.

Anya Fink serves in the office of Senator Joe Donnelly (D-IN). Dr. Fink was most recently a Stanton Nuclear Security Fellow at the nonprofit, nonpartisan RAND Corporation, where she researched and collaborated on projects that examined theater escalation and deterrence challenges. She was previously also a program officer at the nonpartisan Stanley Foundation, where she developed and managed international programming focused on countering nuclear terrorism and strengthening nuclear materials security. She holds a PhD in international security and economic policy from the University of Maryland, College Park, and a Master’s in public and international affairs from the University of Pittsburgh.

Jennifer Knox serves in the office of Rep. Pete Visclosky (D-IN). Knox previously worked as a research assistant for Global Zero, a nonprofit organization dedicated to advancing nonproliferation and arms control objectives while contributing to crisis de-escalation. Knox is also a member of the 2018 Nuclear Scholars Initiative, a program by the Center for Strategic and International Studies. She earned her Master of Philosophy in International Relations at the University of Oxford, where her research focused on multilateral arms control and institution-building.

Ian Merritt serves in the office of Rep. Jeff Fortenberry (R-NE), the founding co-chairman of the CNSWG. Mr. Merritt was previously a research assistant in the Center for Middle East Policy at the Brookings Institution, focusing on regional geopolitics, military affairs, and counterterrorism. He has a Master of Arts in Security Studies from Georgetown University.

Blake Narendra serves in the office of Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-OR). A graduate of Colorado College, Blake worked on two presidential campaigns in 2007-2008 before moving to Washington D.C.  He was an associate in the White House Office of Presidential Personnel, worked as a Special Assistant at the National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) during Senate consideration of the New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (New START) and the Fukushima nuclear disaster.  Following graduate studies at the Fletcher School at Tufts University, he worked as a contractor to the U.S. Air Force in its arms control branch, as a fellow at the Ploughshares Fund and as a special advisor in the U.S. State Department Bureau of Arms Control, Verification, and Compliance (AVC). He most recently was a press officer at the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID).

John Russell serves in the office of Sen. Steve Daines (R-MT). In his role as a fellow, John advises the Office on matters of science, technology, and security. Previously, he served a 2016-2017 AAAS Science and Technology Policy Fellow at National Science Foundation (NSF) contributing to the  Secure and Trustworthy Cyberspace program. John came to NSF from the Department of Energy where he completed his 2015-2016 fellowship year in the Advanced Scientific Computing Research (ASCR) program office. His work supported the ASCR Leadership Computing Challenge  program, the Energy Science Network and the National Strategic Computing Initiative. John conducted postdoctoral research at Argonne National Laboratory to explore advanced materials for batteries and catalysis. He received his Ph.D. in chemistry from University of Illinois at Chicago in 2012 and his B.A. with dual majors in  chemistry and English literature from Washington University in St. Louis in 2002. John served as a chemical officer in the U.S. Army 2002-2006 with the 10th Mountain Division, and he deployed in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom.

2017 Fellows

Minsu Crowder-Han served in the office of Congressman Chuck Fleischmann (R-TN), a principal member of the CNSWG. Crowder-Han most recently managed Federally-funded nuclear security projects at CRDF Global, an independent nonprofit organization that promotes international scientific and technical collaboration. She also spent two years in the International Atomic Energy Agency’s Division of Nuclear Security. She holds two Masters of Arts, from Georgetown University and King’s College London.

Nate Sans served in the office of CNSWG Co-Chair Congressman Pete Visclosky (D-IN). Sans previously managed a major two-year study of the International Atomic Energy Agency at the Partnership for a Secure America, a nonprofit organization founded by former Congressman Lee Hamilton and Senator Warren Rudman to advance bipartisanship on critical national security and foreign policy challenges. Sans is a former non-resident junior fellow at the Center for the National Interest and a graduate of Middlebury College.

Frequently asked questions

  • Do I have to be an expert in nuclear issues?
    • In assessing an applicant, we look not just at nuclear expertise but also experience and familiarity with related issues, such as cybersecurity, military space, CBRNE threats, or strategic studies. We also assess candidates’ interpersonal and communications skills and their ability to learn quickly. However, successful candidates will have a basic familiarity with nuclear policy before applying.
  • Do I get to choose which Member/Senator I work for?
    • Hosting offices decide to which applicants they wish to extend offers. While we do our best to identify offices and applicants that may be good fits for each other, we cannot guarantee that applicants will be made offers by their preferred offices. In the spirit of non-partisan dialogue and cooperation, we ask that applicants accept an offer if one is made.
  • What if I don’t feel comfortable working for member of a different political party or different political views than my own?
    • Hosting offices share a commitment to promoting bipartisan discourse on nuclear and national security issues. Fellows are not asked to contribute time or effort to the political activities of their Member/Senator. However, Fellows do work as a Member/Senator’s staffer and might be asked to do work that advances the Member/Senator’s policy priorities. We ask our participating offices and fellows to use good judgment regarding politically sensitive issues. We also understand that a good fit between fellows and offices is crucial to sustaining a productive work environment, and try to resolve any major issues during the placement process.
  • Can I publish and continue to use social media during my Fellowship?
    • As staffers, Fellows’ words and deeds reflect on their Members and Senators. In general, Congressional staffers do not publish or engage in extensive social media commentary. We ask that fellows exercise the same restraint on any publicly available platforms. Limited exceptions may be made for publications in progress at the time the fellowship begins, particularly those of a technical or scientific nature. Any political commentary or public statements, including on social media, that reflect poorly on the Member/Senator or the Member/Senator’s state or colleagues is grounds for removal from the fellowship program. Fellows should exercise good judgment during the application process and during their Fellowship year regarding private social media activities.
  • Do you provide housing or medical benefits?
    • The fellowship is primarily an educational opportunity. As such, the only compensation we provide is a competitive stipend. Fellows should arrange their own housing and medical insurance. Fellows also receive a travel budget for fellowship-related travel.
  • Is the stipend award considered taxable income?
    • A stipend is a form of scholarship and, to the extent it is not used for tuition and required fees or books, it is considered taxable income both for federal and state income tax purposes. The George Washington University does not provide a tax form at year end reporting the stipend, so the recipient should “self-report” this income on his/her tax return. Travel funds are not considered income.