APA Congressional Fellowship

The purpose of this fellowship is to provide psychologists with an invaluable public policy learning experience, to contribute to the more effective use of psychological knowledge in government and to broaden awareness about the value of psychology-government interaction among psychologists and within the federal government.


Sponsor: Government Relations


Fellows spend one year working on the staff of a member of Congress or congressional committee. Activities may involve drafting legislation, conducting oversight work, assisting with congressional hearings and events, and preparing briefs and speeches. Fellows also attend a two-week orientation program on congressional and executive branch operations, which provides guidance for the congressional placement process, and participate in a yearlong seminar series on science and public policy issues. The American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) administers these professional development activities for the APA fellows and for fellows sponsored by over two dozen other professional societies.

APA and APF will each sponsor up to two congressional fellows for a one-year appointment beginning Sept. 1, 2019. The APA fellowship is open to all full APA members, but the APF fellowship was created to support  psychologists with a background in developmental or clinical psychology and experience working directly with children. Stipends for these fellowships range from $75,000 to $90,000, depending upon years of post-doctoral experience. In addition, the fellowship provides reimbursement for health insurance coverage and a $3,750 stipend for professional development and relocation expenses during the fellowship year. Final selection of fellows will be made in early spring of 2019.

Specialty Designations

Fellowship applications are reviewed as a single group. When selections are made, specialty designations may be given to incoming Fellows who fit the criteria.

Catherine Acuff Fellow

Established by APA in 2000 to honor the memory of Catherine Acuff, PhD, and her many valued contributions to the field of psychology and to those it serves. Applicants for this fellowship must have five or more years of professional experience post-doctorate. The mid-career/senior focus of this program reflects Acuff’s transition to the public policy arena after many successful years in private practice and academia.

Catherine Acuff, PhD, a dedicated psychologist, advocate and humanitarian, was a member of the APA Board of Directors when she died on Apr. 21, 2000, at age 51. The mid-career nature of this fellowship reflects Acuff's transition to the public policy arena, including advocacy for lesbian, gay and bisexual and HIV/AIDS issues, following her successful career in private practice, on the faculty of local colleges and hospital-based clinical training programs, and as president of the Connecticut Psychological Association. At the time of her death, Acuff was the Director of the HIV/AIDS Treatment Adherence, Health Outcomes and Associated Costs Program for the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration in the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

William A. Bailey Health and Behavior Fellow

Established in 1995 to honor former APA staff member William (Bill) A. Bailey for his tireless advocacy on behalf of psychological research, training and services related to HIV/AIDS. Applicants for this fellowship should have a background in health and behavior issues, including HIV/AIDS; health disparities; or lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender health issues.

Bailey championed HIV/AIDS and lesbian, gay and bisexual policy issues for the APA as a member of the Public Policy Office staff. Among his many accomplishments, Bailey oversaw the development of a major report on behavioral and social sciences and the HIV/AIDS epidemic for the National Commission on AIDS, participated in the planning of an APA training program for psychologists who serve HIV-infected clients, facilitated the development of the AIDS community prevention programs supported by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, forged collaborations between several government agencies to support the HIV/AIDS mental health services demonstration program, and successfully advocated for National Institute of Mental Health funding for research on anti-gay violence. An openly gay man who died from AIDS at the young age of 34, his legacy is one of great personal and professional strength.


A prospective fellow must:

  • Demonstrate competence in scientific and/or professional psychology.

  • Demonstrate sensitivity toward policy issues.

  • Have a strong interest in applying psychological knowledge to the solution of societal challenges.

  • Be able to work quickly and communicate effectively on a wide variety of topics and be able to work cooperatively with individuals with diverse viewpoints.

An applicant must:

  • Be a psychologist, a member of APA (or applicant for membership), and a U.S. citizen.

  • Have a doctorate in psychology (from an APA accredited doctoral program and internship, if in the area of professional psychology) or related field by the application deadline.

A special exception is made for current psychology interns who may apply with certification from the director of training in their doctoral program that they have met all but the internship requirement for their doctoral degree by the application deadline. It should be noted that preference will be given to applicants with two or more years of experience following receipt of their doctorate.

How to Apply

Applications must be submitted by 11:59 p.m. on Jan. 6, 2019.

A complete application must include the following:

1. A completed online application. Submitting the application will require uploading and submitting the following materials electronically: 

  • A detailed curriculum vita providing information about educational background, professional employment and activities, professional publications and presentations, public policy and legislative experience, and committee and advisory group appointments. 
  • A statement of approximately 1,000 words addressing the applicant's interests in the fellowship, career goals, and what the applicant can contribute to and learn from the fellowship experience.

2. Three letters of recommendation to be separately uploaded and submitted by recommenders. Letters should specifically address the applicant’s ability to serve successfully on Capitol Hill as a congressional fellow. Applicants are responsible for forwarding the recommendation submission form to each of their recommenders.

For additional information, please contact Gabriel Twose, PhD, program director.

Past Recipients

Current Fellows


Melissa Laitner, PhD, MPHMelissa Laitner, PhD, MPH, received her master’s degree in public health and her doctoral degree in clinical psychology from the University of Florida in 2016 and 2017, respectively. Laitner’s research has focused on rural health disparities and chronic health conditions. Her internship at the University of Florida Health Science Center concentrated on assessment and intervention for underserved and uninsured populations. Clinically, Laitner has a broad array of experiences in the realm of medical psychology, with special interests in transplant and oncology. She has a demonstrated commitment to policy and advocacy and has held both participant and leadership roles within women’s leadership and diversity-focused groups within academic settings as well as membership societies. Laitner’s public health training focused on policy and management. She is specifically interested in evidence-based policies affecting healthcare and addressing health disparities. Laitner is the 2018-2019 Jacquelin Goldman Congressional Fellow, a position funded by the American Psychological Foundation.

Alexander Maki, PhDAlexander Maki, PhD, received his doctoral degree in social psychology from the University of Minnesota in 2015, where he was also a National Science Foundation Graduate Fellow. As a graduate student, Alex’s research focused on helping people change their environmental (e.g., energy conservation), health (e.g., physical activity), and prosocial (e.g., volunteering) behaviors. From 2015-2018, Maki was a Postdoctoral Research Fellow with the Vanderbilt Institute for Energy and Environment, where he studied how public- and private-sector climate change policies influence people's environmental actions. Maki has wide-ranging community and professional service experience, including serving in AmeriCorps after his undergraduate education. He also chaired the Sustainability Psychology Preconference organizing committee from 2016-2017 as part of the annual Society for Personality and Social Psychology conference. Maki is interested in evidence-based policies relating to energy and the environment, public health and civic engagement. Maki is the 2018-2019 general APA Congressional Fellow.

Former Fellows

  • Meghann Galloway, JD, PhD, Congressional Goldman Fellow 
    Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y.

  • Laura F. Knudtson, PhD, Congressional Acuff Fellow 
    Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore.

  • Nicholas Grant, PhD, Congressional Fellow
    Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y. 

  • Amber Hewitt, PhD, Congressional Goldman Fellow
    Sen. Cory Booker, D-N.J.

  • Lindsay Gerolimatos, PhD, Congressional Fellow
    Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y.

  • Manisha Gupta, PhD, Congressional Goldman Fellow
    Sen. Mazie Hirono, D-Hawaii

  • Amanda Clinton, PhD, Congressional Fellow
    Sen. Chris Murphy, D-Conn.

  • Chisina Kapungu, PhD, Congressional Goldman Fellow
    Sen. Ed Markey, D-Mass.

  • Irina Feygina, PhD, Congressional Fellow
    Sen. Michael Bennett, D-Colo.

  • Joshua Wolff, PhD, Congressional Goldman Fellow
    Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee

  • Edwin Tan, PhD, Congressional Goldman Fellow
    Rep. Mike Honda, D-Calif.

  • Jackie White, PhD, Congressional Acuff Fellow
    Rep. Diana DeGette, D-Colo.

  • Tiffany Griffin, PhD, Congressional Fellow
    Sen. Jeff Bingaman, D-N.M.

  • Valarie Molaison, PhD, Congressional Goldman Fellow
    Sen. Jon Tester, D-Mont.

  • Cheri Hoffman, PhD, Congressional Goldman Fellow
    Rep. Pete Stark, D-Calif.

  • Sandra Wilkniss, PhD, Congressional Acuff Fellow
    Sen. Jeff Bingaman, D-N.M.

  • Judith Glassgold, PsyD, Congressional Acuff Fellow
    Rep. Xavier Becerra, D-Calif.