Leadership + the American Presidency Virtual Summer

Program Dates: June 8 – July 31, 2020

Due to the COVID-19 outbreak and the decisions made by our university partners, The Fund for American Studies and Ronald Reagan Institute are not able to offer in-person academic internship programs this summer.

While we cannot welcome students to Washington, DC in person, we are excited to offer our excellent academic and professional development programming online. We’ll bring the connections, lessons and college credit to you so that you waste no time in gaining the marketable skills that will put you on the path for success. We’ll bring the excitement of a Washington, DC summer to you!

TFAS alumnus Andrew Bernius gives students a behind the scenes tour of C-SPAN and shares advice on how to succeed in the field. TFAS Virtual Summer will bring these connections and experience to you.

We are uniquely qualified to bring you the ultimate DC experience online! For 50 years, we have cultivated relationships with DC-based institutions and professionals and are working with these partners to bring their expertise to your home this summer.

Through the LTAP Virtual Summer Program our goal is to bring the best of the programming we typically offer in Washington, DC to students around the country through:

  • Academic course for government credit focused on The American Presidency
  • Guest lectures by top policy experts
  • Professional Development Seminars
  • Virtual one-on-one Mentor Program
  • Career exploration panels and small group discussions
  • Site briefings with key government leaders
  • Networking and special events

Because of the move to virtual programming, the format of internships will change. We are working to secure remote internships and they will be reviewed on a case-by-case basis with students.

Academic Courses + Guest Lectures with Policy Leaders and Economics Experts

Virtual small group sessions and social activities will connect you with passionate emerging leaders from all across the U.S.

A selection of virtual courses for academic credit from George Mason University (GMU) will be offered this summer. These classes are specially designed with a focus on active learning, including two live meetings of 1.5 hours a week and an additional recorded lecture. Professors will also hold weekly virtual office hours.

A GMU transcript with grades may be requested from the registrar’s office upon completion of the program.

Required Course:

Course Description

The course is intended for students interested and committed to accelerating their leadership capacity.  This course engages students with elements, values, and styles of leadership as seen through examples of American Presidents. Students will: engage in discussion about Presidential leadership style, advance in their leadership journey, explore the paths that Presidents have taken to provide a spark in their own leadership development. Virtual simulations and co-curricular experiences will be employed to emphasize personal action and applicability. Please click here for this summer’s syllabus.

Gabriel Sheinmann

Gabe Sheinmann, Alexander Hamilton Society


Dr. Gabriel Scheinmann is the Executive Director of the Alexander Hamilton Society, an independent, non-partisan, not-for-profit, membership organization dedicated to promoting constructive debate on basic principles and contemporary issues in foreign, economic, and national security policy. Before joining AHS, Dr. Scheinmann worked at the Center for Strategic and International Studies as a research analyst and then served as the policy director at the Jewish Policy Center where he co-edited a journal of international affairs. He is a widely published author on U.S. national security and foreign policy, including in the Wall Street Journal, the Washington Post, and Foreign Affairs. He received his Ph.D and M.A. from Georgetown University and his B.A. from Harvard College.

Professor Glenn Nye

Glenn Nye, Center for the Study of the Presidency + Congress


Glenn Nye is the President & CEO of the Center for the Study of the Presidency & Congress (CSPC) in Washington, D.C.  CSPC is a nonpartisan think tank aiming to educate future public policy leaders while serving as an honest broker between the White House, Congress and Private Sector. 

Nye is a former Member of Congress who bridges the public policy and technology communities. He served Virginia’s Second Congressional District in the U.S. House of Representatives where he distinguished himself as a bipartisan legislator, ranking among the top-10 most independent voting members.

He was a member of the Blue Dog Coalition, a group of centrist, pro-business Democrats. Nye served on the Armed Services, Veterans, and Small Business Committees, chairing the Small Business Subcommittee on Contracting and Technology. He was commended for consistent bipartisan support of a pro-growth economic environment, strong investments in national security, and support of veterans and military families—thus earning the endorsements of the Chamber of Commerce, the NFIB, and the VFW. He championed structural reforms to enhance the effectiveness of government and civility among citizens, including nonpartisan redistricting, and government spending reforms.

After serving in Congress, Nye became an advisor to technology companies, acting as liaison between executives and policymakers in the areas of data analysis and the personal data economy. Nye served as a senior advisor to Palantir Technologies, a leading Silicon Valley data analytics company, and is an advisor at Datacoup, a personal data marketplace company, as well as a member of the board of advisors at FiscalNote, a government relations management software company. He is a member of the board of directors of iMMAP, a data analysis and mapping company serving the international development community. He also provides periodic global market and political risk analysis to financial sector companies.

After graduating from the Georgetown University School of Foreign Service, Nye spent his early career as a U.S. diplomat serving the State Department and USAID in the Balkans, Southeast Asia, Afghanistan and the Middle East. He was recognized with a Superior Honor Award for brokering the release of an American held hostage by insurgents in Macedonia and participated in negotiations for the U.S.-Singapore Free Trade Agreement. He also led economic and political stabilization operations supporting counterinsurgency missions in Afghanistan and Iraq.

Nye continues to enhance understanding between branches of government by lecturing about the behind-the-scenes workings of the U.S. Congress to members of the foreign policy community. He remains active in thought leadership on technology and public policy issues.

Nye is a member of the Congressional Leadership Council of the “Fix the Debt” campaign. Nye has written and led discussions on politics, security, and digital technology issues as a Senior Fellow at the German Marshall Fund of the U.S., a trans-Atlantic think tank.

Economics Workshop
More than 40,000 students intern in Washington, DC each summer.
Earn 3-6 credits from George Mason University by participating in virtual courses focused on active learning.

Participants in the Leadership + the American Presidency program will take part in a virtual Economics Workshop during the the program. These two interactive seminar sessions will focus on economic principles and help students learn the economic way of thinking.

Dr. Anne Bradley, who holds a PhD in Economics and serves as the TFAS Academic Director, will lead the seminar.

Elective Courses

Students seeking to take a total of 6 credit hours, may enroll in one of the following elective courses:

Course Description

The discussion-based class provides historical and present-day perspectives on American foreign policy.  It will examine how these views will influence the future of American diplomacy and global perception of the United States. During the course, students will be engaged in a series of “great episodes” in American foreign policy, aiming at relating them to current problems.  The course will also examine national security policy since 9/11. This course is open to all students with an interest in foreign policy or international affairs. Please click here for this summer’s syllabus.


Jonathan Askonas, Catholic University


Jon Askonas works on the connections between the republican tradition, technology, and national security. He is currently working on a manuscript examining post-war organizational forgetting processes in militaries. The book will address the relationship between how the US Army organizes itself for war, how it adapts to new challenges (using case studies from Vietnam and Iraq), and why it forgets much of what it has learned after the war winds down. He is also working on essays on the deep political, moral, and practical implications of the volunteer military and on the connection between artificial intelligence research and authoritarian surveillance.

He has a BS in International Politics (summa cum laude) from Georgetown University and a DPhil from the University of Oxford. He has worked at the Council on Foreign Relations, US Embassy in Moscow, and the Clements Center for National Security at the University of Texas at Austin. His work has been supported by the Beinecke Scholarship, the Smith Richardson Foundation, the Charles Koch Foundation, and the Cyril Foster Fund. His writing has appeared in Russian Analytical DigestTriple HelixFare Forward, War on the Rocks, and the Texas National Security Review.

Course Description

This seminar offers an insider’s look at Washington, DC through discussions and assigned readings to explore “How Washington Works,” as well as the role the media plays in covering public policy issues. Observing Washington in action makes clear that politics in real life often differs from how it is portrayed in textbooks. This seminar is team-taught by a former Congressional Chief of Staff and senior advisor at the Department of Labor as well as the founding editor and first White House correspondent for USA Today. High level guest speakers will cover pressing issues such as national security, cases before the Supreme Court, political campaigns and pending federal legislation. The syllabus is available here.

Professor Karen Czarnecki

Karen Czarnecki

Professor, Inside Washington, DC

Karen M. Czarnecki currently serves as the Vice President of Outreach at the Mercatus Center at George Mason University. Previously she served as the Chief of Staff to Rep. Mike Kelly and as a senior advisor to U.S. Secretary of Labor Elaine L. Chao. She joined the Labor Department in June of 2001, and in June 2003 she was appointed Director of the Office of the 21st Century Workforce. In addition, she served as Deputy Assistant Secretary of Labor for Intergovernmental Affairs, giving her responsibility for outreach to state and locally-elected officials. Czarnecki received her BA and Juris Doctorate degrees from Catholic University of America and is also an alumna of the TFAS Public Policy and Economics program.

Professor Richard Benedetto

Richard Benedetto


Richard Benedetto was the White House and national political correspondent for USA TODAY as well as a political columnist for Gannett News Service. He has reported on government and politics on the local, state and national levels for the past 34 years.

As a native of Utica, NY, Benedetto began his journalism career with the Buffalo, (N.Y.) Evening News, and held government reporting positions with the Utica Daily Press and Observer-Dispatch.

He also worked in the Albany bureau of Gannett News Service, covering state and government politics during the Governor Hugh Carey administration. He is a founding member of USA TODAY, joining the newspaper in Washington, D.C. in 1982, prior to its debut. He wrote the paper’s first front-page cover story on its initial day of publication. USA TODAY is now the nation’s largest newspaper. In addition to reporting on the White House and national politics, he writes a weekly political column for the Gannett News Service which serves the Gannett Company Inc.’s 102 daily newspapers. The column also appears on the USATODAY.com website.

He has covered the administrations of Ronald Reagan, George H. W. Bush, Bill Clinton and George W. Bush. He also has covered the presidential campaigns of 1984, 1988, 1992, 1996, 2000 and 2004.

Guest Lectures

Weekly guest lectures held virtually will give you a chance to hear from and ask questions of some of the best public policy experts, political minds, diplomats and journalists in D.C.

  • US-Russia Foreign Policy: David Satter, Senior Fellow, Hudson Institute + Thomas Wright, Director, Center on the U.S. and Europe, Brookings Institution
  • Syria in Review: Faysal Itani, Senior Fellow, Atlantic Council
  • 2020 Polling + the Presidential Outlook: Chris Wilson, CEO of WPA Intelligence
  • Tariffs and American Jobs Debate: Alan Tonelson, Founder, RealityChek and Donald Boudreaux , GMU
  • Life of a Foreign Correspondent: Suzanne Kianpour, BBC News
  • The ABC’s of Covering Capitol Hill: Matt Laslo Capitol Hill Reporter
  • Pathways to Public Relations in Washington, DC: Randy DeCleene, kglobal

Student participating in a Diplomatic simulation at the U.S. Department of State.
Attend virtual briefings at many of Washington’s institutions.

Site Briefings + Career Exploration

We’ll bring the policy briefings and networking opportunities to you this summer.

Learn from experts, build your professional network and gain insider job-seeking tips through small group discussions. 

We will bring you inside of the walls of the city’s most influential institutions and organizations through virtual briefings with officials at:

  • U.S. Department of State
  • United States Congress
  • World Bank
  • U.S. Institute of Peace
  • The Pentagon
  • Embassies (examples: Great Britain, Australia, Sweden, Japan, Mexico, Estonia, Greece)

We will offer optional seminars each week that focus on different professional development themes. Students are encouraged to attend as many virtual panels as they’d like throughout the program.

The interactive sessions will be led by mainly D.C.-based professionals from a variety of career fields, and are designed to help prepare you to stand out in the competitive job market after graduation.

Topics for the summer will include:

  • Virtual Networking
  • Tips for Getting a Job
  • Graduate School Admissions
  • Working/Learning from Home
  • Fellowship Programs
  • Creating Your Online Profile
  • DC Careers 101

In D.C. it’s often not “what you know,” but “who you know.” Establishing a professional network is critical for success in job searching after graduation. Our optional Professional Mentor Program will be held virtually this summer and will help give students a personal connection to a professional in Washington, DC.

Alumni serve as mentors to summer and semester students.
Many program alumni serve as mentors during the summer.

Students will have weekly virtual meetings with mentors on topics such as getting a job in D.C., resume help, advice on graduate school and much more.

Over 200 Washington, DC-area professionals volunteer to be matched as mentors with TFAS program participants. We do our best to match students with a mentor based on your field of study, career goals, college or university, hometown, and other factors whenever possible.

Designed to help you explore a variety of career paths and to further build your network, TFAS is planning a series of virtual career-focused panels and small group discussions led by professionals working in a range of fields and industries.

From these insiders, you’ll learn about important topics affecting job seekers in your field:

  • Day to date responsibilities of entry level and senior positions
  • Pressing policy issues
  • Current climate for finding a job in your field
  • Typical starting salaries
  • Advice on job searching and breaking into a particular field
Small group of students meeting at the National Geographic.

Students will have the opportunity to participate in sessions associated with their program track. Past small group meetings and career panels have featured:

  • Amazon Government Affairs
  • Caterpillar, Inc. Government Affairs
  • CIA: Intelligence Careers
  • Clark Hill, PLC: Law Careers
  • Defense Consulting Careers
  • Economic Innovation Group: Public Policy Careers
  • Ford Motor Company Government Affairs
  • Humanitarian Aid + Relief Careers
  • National Geographic
  • National Public Radio
  • NBC News
  • Public Diplomacy Careers
  • Office of U.S. Congressman Mark Takano (D): Legislative Careers
  • Stateside Associates: State-based Government Affairs
  • Uber Government Affairs Careers
  • U.S. Chamber of Commerce Careers
  • U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development
  • U.S. Department of State Careers
  • U.S. House Energy and Commerce Committee: Communications Careers
  • United Nations Careers
  • U.S. Trade + Development Agency Careers

Student meeting speaker after professional development session
Explore career paths and build your network by participating in virtual career-focused panels and small group discussions led by professionals working in a range of fields and industries.


In order to receive a certificate of completion at the end of the summer, students will be required to fully participate in the classes, attend guest lectures, at least one site briefing and career exploration session. Attendance at additional professional development and special events is strongly encouraged.

The schedule below is based on the Eastern Time zone. Some programming components will be planned by time zone. All sessions will be recorded and shared with students to allow self-paced viewing when a scheduling conflict does not allow live participation.

1:00 PM – 2:30 PMElective Classes
3:00 PM – 4:00 PMProfessional Development Seminars
7:00 PM – 8:00 PMStudent Network Meetings (under 10 students)
1:00 PM – 2:30 PMThe American Presidency
3:00 PM – 4:00 PMGuest Lectures
10:00 AM – 10:30 AMMentor Meetings
1:00 PM – 2:30 PMElective Classes
3:00 PM – 4:00 PMSpecial Events/Site Briefings
1:00 PM – 2:30 PMThe American Presidency
3:00 PM – 4:00 PMSpecial Events/Site Briefings
11:00 AMSelf-paced Lectures Posted
Throughout the dayCareer Exploration Panels + Small Group Discussions

Program Costs + Scholarship Funding

The costs associated with our program cover tuition at George Mason University.

  • $4,750: 3-credits: American Presidency course and full schedule of program events
  • $5,950: 6-credits: American Presidency course, elective course and full schedule of program events
Students attending TFAS orientation activites.
Over 85% of students receive a scholarship.

As an educational nonprofit organization we strive to provide as much scholarship funding to as many qualified and deserving students as possible. Generous scholarship funding is available so most students will pay a fraction of the price.

Scholarships from our general fund are awarded based on a combination of factors including:

  • Financial need
  • Academic excellence
  • Extracurricular achievement
  • Leadership activities

Admissions + Enrollment

Students at the Alumni Round Table holding Balloon Letters
When you successfully complete the TFAS Virtual Summer, you will become part of our global network of more than 17,000 DC and International Programs alumni. As an alumnus, you will have access to our online alumni connect database where you can network and collaborate with alumni leaders around the world and have early access to additional TFAS-sponsored programs.

If you have already completed an application for the summer 2020 program, there is no need to submit a new application. Your Virtual Summer Decision Letter and Enrollment Form have been added to your existing Summer 2020 Application and may be accessed in your Self Service Center account. You will also see your updated scholarship amount noted.

New applicants should submit the online application and send an official transcript by mail or email to:

The Fund for American Studies
D.C. Programs
1621 New Hampshire Ave., NW
Washington, DC 20009
Tel: 202.986.0384
Fax: 202.318.0441
Email: admissions@TFAS.org

Students are encouraged to complete an application and/or enrollment form as soon as possible in order to confirm their position in this summer’s virtual program.

All participants must view and sign The Fund for American Studies Summer Virtual Program policies upon enrollment. Please review the policies, including terms of final payment, refunds, withdrawals, student participation and code of conduct.


We are happy to answer any questions that you may have! Following public health guidance, our staff continue to work remotely for the time being. Please contact us via email at admissions@TFAS.org.