The NSWG Fellowship

Providing the next generation of national security professionals a front-row seat to Congress

The Nuclear Security Working Group’s Congressional Fellowship program provides highly qualified up-and-coming national security professionals with an opportunity to spend a year working in the United States Congress.

Applications for the 2018-19 Fellowship are now closed.


  • Applicants should be U.S. citizens and have no conflicts of interest impeding appointment to a NSWG Fellowship. Fellows may not be Federal employees or full time Federal contractors as of January 1, 2018.
  • Up to eight Fellows will be placed in an equal number of Democratic and Republican offices in the Senate and House.
  • Fellows work full-time from January 2018 to January 2019, and must commit to the full year.
  • Fellows will be paid an annual stipend of up to $80,000, depending on qualifications.
  • Fellows receive their stipends as scholarship awards, and are not eligible for benefits (i.e. health insurance).
  • GWU administers the Fellowship competition. A committee of senior GWU faculty/NSWG experts selects finalists, who may then be interviewed and offered a Fellowship by host offices.
  • GWU manages all administrative arrangements pertaining to the Fellowship; host offices will make final selections, decide office assignments and assign Fellows’ responsibilities.

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 .
  • The 2018-2019 application is now closed.
Fellowship Program Details


  • 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, as requested by their supervisors;
    • Answering constituent inquiries;
    • Contributing to the 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 on the basis of professional experience, 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, or a policy-relevant area of the physical sciences.
  • Applicants must be U.S. citizens at the time the Fellowship begins.
  • Applicants may not be Federal employees or contractors when the Fellowship begins.

Fellowship Award

  • Fellows are awarded a stipend of up to $80,000, 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.
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?
Yes. 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.

Interested In Hosting a Fellow?

We welcome inquiries from House and Senate offices interested in hosting a Nuclear Security Fellow. Please send your inquiry to Mary Chesnut at

2018 Fellows

Alex Borgelt

Alex Borgelt

Senator Bob Casey
Alex Borgelt is serving in the office of Senator Bob Casey (D-PA). Alexander Borgelt joins the NSWG fellowship program after completing his master’s degree in public policy at the Johns...
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Anya Fink

Anya Fink

Senator Joe Donnelly
Anya Fink is serving 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...
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Blake Narendra

Blake Narendra

Sen. Jeff Merkley
Blake Narendra serves in the office of Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-OR). A graduate of Colorado College, Narendra 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.
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Ian Merritt

Ian Merritt

Rep. Jeff Fortenberry
Ian Merritt is serving 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...
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Jennifer Knox

Jennifer Knox

Rep. Pete Visclosky
Jennifer Knox is serving 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...
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John Russell

John Russell

Sen. Steve Daines
John Russell is serving 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,...
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Jon Cheatwood

Jon Cheatwood

Senator Heidi Heitkamp
Jon Cheatwood is serving 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...
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