By Jim Duffy
Established by President Lyndon Johnson in 1964, the White House Fellows program ranks among the nation’s most elite leadership-training initiatives for young professionals. Its alumni over the years have gone on to serve as senators, congresspersons, governors, cabinet secretaries, corporate CEOs, Army generals, and university deans.
At 28, Wes Moore is the youngest of the 14 members of the current class of Fellows. He will work through September as a full-time special assistant to Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice. His responsibilities to date have focused on bringing more transparency and consistency to the ways foreign-aid decisions are made in the State Department. The Fellows program also includes a series of training and educational programming, as well as freewheeling off-the-record sessions with the likes of the president, governors, and corporate CEOs.
“I’ve seen leadership at a lot of different levels, but nothing like this,” Moore says. “The State Department is so massive, and the burdens on Secretary Rice’s shoulders when she walks in the door at 6 o’clock in the morning are so extraordinary. Sometimes I look at her and think, ‘How do you do this every day?’”
Moore arrived at State as a Fellow just a few months after returning from military service in Afghanistan. There, he had a ground-level view of how foreign aid gets delivered and how State Department policy decisions are executed in practice.
“To go pretty much straight from the field like that to a job where I can see how those policies are created in Washington has been fascinating,” he says. “I’ve tried to speak up at times and point out where the policies we’re talking about might not work out quite according to plan out there in the field. I hope I’ve been a little bit helpful.”