Now Seeking Applicants: Joseph P. Kennedy, Jr. Foundation Public Policy Fellowship Program 2013-2014

Deadline: April 5, 2013

March 7, 2013

The Joseph P. Kennedy, Jr. Foundation is seeking exemplary professionals and/or family members of persons with intellectual or developmental disabilities and/or persons with disabilities, particularly self-advocates who are currently working, advocating or volunteering in the field of inclusive services and supports for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities for an intensive one-year Public Policy Fellowship in Washington, D.C. The purpose of the Fellowship is to prepare emerging and seasoned leaders to assume leadership in the public policy arena nationally and in their home state. During this one year Fellowship, the successful applicant will learn how federal legislation is initiated, developed, and passed by the Congress, as well as how programs are administered and regulations promulgated by federal agencies.

Each year the Foundation brings talented and accomplished professionals and family members (many of whom are both professionals and family members) to Washington, D.C. for a full year where they actively participate in public policy development in the offices of Members of Congress, Congressional committees, or federal agencies. Former Public Policy Fellows describe the Fellowship as a major turning point in their professional and personal lives; the experience is a unique chance to understand the intersection of public policy, disability advocacy, and the political process.

The coming year promises to be an exceptional opportunity to participate in the policy development process as there is a new Congress and it is the first year of the second Obama Administration. There will be multiple issues before the new Congress and the Administration that impact people with intellectual and developmental disabilities, their families, communities and supportive organizations doing work with, and on behalf of, people with disabilities. Key legislation may include implementation of the Affordable Care Act, health care (including long term services and supports) and mental health care for persons with disabilities, the Rehabilitation Act, the Workforce Investment Act, the ABLE Act, (the TEAM Act, the Developmental Disabilities Act, the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (formerly No Child Left Behind now Reform America's Schools to Educate the Leaders of the Future Act ), disability civil rights, child care, housing, justice, child welfare and other areas related to improving the quality of life for individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities.

Since its founding in 1946, the Joseph P. Kennedy, Jr. Foundation has supported the creation of practical programs to benefit persons with intellectual disabilities, their families and their communities. The Foundation has always worked with national leaders who understand the promise and realities of government. The need for skilled leadership in government and public policy has never been greater. In response to this need, the Foundation initiated the Public Policy Fellowship Program in 1980. Fellows receive first-hand knowledge and experience in the development of public policy and the opportunity to participate in an advocacy training workshop, national disability policy seminars and the intensive week-long Bioethics course at Georgetown University's Kennedy Institute of Ethics.


Successful applicants will have outstanding experience in:

  1. State or national level advocacy for persons with intellectual and developmental disabilities and their families;
  2. Health care, mental health care, employment, education, child care, child welfare, law, community organizing, family support services, housing or development of inclusive community supports and services for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities;
  3. Development of training programs for people with disabilities, families and communities and/or for the professionals who work with them;
  4. Development or improvements of family support services, programs focused on increasing individual's control of resources and decisions impacting their lives, technology in support of people with intellectual and developmental disabilities and any other area of focus important to these Americans.

The successful applicant's background will include distinguished involvement in efforts to improve the lives of persons with intellectual and other developmental disabilities at the regional, state or national level. The expectation is that fellows will become future leaders in the field of inclusive community supports for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities. After their year in Washington, it is expected that former Kennedy Fellows will make significant contributions to policy and program development in their home state or continue to advance their work on the national level.

The program provides a one-year full-time exposure to the federal public policy making process, and includes a stipend and modest relocation expenses. Selected fellows must be prepared to live in the Washington, DC area during their fellowship year and to devote themselves full-time to the fellowship. In addition, applicants have the opportunity to participate in the Intensive Bioethics Course offered at the Joseph P. and Rose F. Kennedy Institute of Bioethics at Georgetown University. For more information on this course go to

Application Process and Guidelines

Applicants should submit a letter of application between 2 to no more than 4 pages in length, single spaced in 12 point font with 1 inch margins, stating their background and history in the field of services and supports to people with intellectual and developmental disabilities, interests and accomplishments to date, as well as what they hope to do with the knowledge and experience gained from the fellowship. They should also attach either a résumé detailing their work and educational experience or a summary of their involvement in the field along with three letters of support from people familiar with their work. Applications should clearly show the candidate's name, address, telephone number(s), and e-mail address on the first page.

How to Apply

apply now

April 5, 5pmET
The sole method of application, letters and résumé submission is via an online system that can be found here. Hard copies will not be accepted.

Letters of support should also be via a PDF or MSWord file; a hard copy on letterhead with the supporter's signature may follow in the mail only if it has been attached to the electronic application in any format other than PDF or MSWord. Please make sure that each letter clearly specifies the candidate for which the letter is being submitted.

Letters of application and support should be addressed to:
Public Policy Fellowship
The Joseph P. Kennedy, Jr. Foundation
1133 19th Street NW, 10th Floor
Washington, DC 20036


The application deadline for 2013-2014 is April 5, 2013 by 5:00pmET.

Fellowship Dates

The Fellowship starting date will be negotiated with the successful applicant(s). The Foundation fellowship(s) will be awarded for the period July, 2013-June 30, 2014, though consideration may be given to those who wish to start later in the year or early in 2014.

Finalists will be invited to Washington in the spring of 2013 to be interviewed by a distinguished panel of national Public Policy experts.


Should you have any questions please contact Steven M. Eidelman.