Host a Horizon Fellow at your congressional office

This page answers some of the most common questions that we have received from congressional offices interested in hosting a Horizon Fellow, covering background on theorganization and fellowship, our matching and placement process, and other financial and administrative information.
Background on the Horizon Fellowship
What is the Horizon Institute for Public Service?

The Horizon Institute for Public Service is a 501(c)3 public charity. Our mission is to help the US government navigate our era of rapid technological change by fostering the next generation of public servants with emerging technology expertise. The Horizon Fellowship, our flagship program, recruits, trains, and fully funds fellows to work on AI or biosecurity topics at host organizations, including think tanks,in Washington, DC. We are funded solely through philanthropic support. You can read more about Horizon and our team here.

How are fellows selected by Horizon?

Fellows are selected through a highly competitive and transparent application process. We start with an assessment of application material, followed by multiple rounds of interviews, most with interviewers who have extensive first-hand experience with emerging technology policy. Timed work tests allow us to screen for both writing skills and subject-matter expertise. You can read more about our process in the applicant FAQ here

When assessing applicants, we look for a combination of subject-matter expertise and fit for policy. Subject-matter expertise allows fellows to contribute hard-to-access knowledge and skills to their host organization. Policy fit matters because success in policy requires not only expertise but also the ability to work in teams, to write well and quickly, to make analysis relevant to decision-makers, and to navigate complex social and political contexts. We look for fellows who are passionate about public service and who aim to work in policy after their fellowship. For think tank fellows, we pay special attention to research and writing ability.

As a host organization, you are also able to assess prospective fellows yourself before making a placement offer, for example by conducting your own interviews or evaluating writing samples. This would typically happen during the matching phase (more details below).

Where have you placed fellows in the past?

Our congressional fellows have served or are serving on the staffs of the House Science Committee (Republican staff), Senate Commerce Committee (Democratic staff), Sen. Martin Heinrich (D-NM), and Sen. Todd Young (R-IN). 

We have also placed more than a dozen fellows in various federal agencies and think tanks. You can see our full list of past fellows and their placements here.

What background would a fellow bring to my office?

All Horizon fellows bring some form subject-matter expertise related to emerging technology. We are open to many forms of expertise, and recruit fellows from a wide range of backgrounds, including industry, academia, the military, and civil society. This allows us to offer a wide range of skillsets and perspectives to host offices. Congressional fellows have several years of work experience prior to starting their fellowship, and once onboarded should be able to contribute to their office’s work at the level of a legislative assistant or expert advisor. 

See our list of past fellows for examples of professional backgrounds. They include machine learning researchers, applied scientists from major labs, social scientists, medical doctors, engineers, journalists, lawyers, and more.

Is my office eligible for hosting a fellow?

Yes. Horizon is happy to work with any office that is interested in hosting a fellow with expertise in emerging technology. The ultimate decision of where to do their placement is up to each individual fellow.

We have found that offices are more likely to be successful in matching with a fellow if they have thought through which office priorities they want a fellow to work on. Given Horizon's focus areas, our fellows will be interested in having AI and/or biotechnology in their portfolio, though we ensure during our application process that congressional fellows are broadly interested and motivated to contribute on a wide range of issues.

Matching and placement information
Do fellows receive any training prior to their placement at an office?

Yes. Fellows participate in an extensive training program prior to placement; depending on the timing of their placement, they may receive training directly through Horizon or through one of our partner organizations. The training is designed to enable them to start their placements with both subject-matter expertise in emerging technologies and the policy know-how required to hit the ground running. Fellows are also screened for writing and communication skills as part of our application process.

The training curricula cover topics such as legislative process, the world of lobbying and advocacy, and oversight. Fellows who participate in the Horizon training do a short project on a policy topic of their choosing in order to build applied skills such as memo writing, stakeholder mapping, policy research, and advocacy.

How are fellows matched to congressional offices?

Fellows are responsible for selecting their placement office. Horizon’s role during the matching process is to connect fellows to potential offices, and to partners and mentors who in turn help introduce our fellows to their network. Offices can also proactively reach out to be notified when a Horizon fellow will be available through our host expression of interest form on our "Connect" page. 

Because of the structure of our current program and training, most fellows will be looking for host offices starting in February or July each year. In some cases, fellows will be available to start at other times. For example, one of our think tank fellows may decide to spend the second of their two yearlong fellowship terms in Congress. In that scenario, they may have flexibility to start anytime during a several-month period.

When do fellows start their placements?

The exact start date is agreed on a case-by-case basis by the fellow and office during the matching process. Because of the structure of our current program and training, most fellows will be looking for host offices starting in February or July each year. In some cases, fellows will be looking to start at other times. For example, one of our think tank fellows may decide to spend the second of their two one-year fellowship terms in Congress. In that scenario, they may have flexibility to start anytime during a several-month period.

Can fellows extend for a second fellowship term?

Yes. All our fellows have access to a second term of funding, contingent on Horizon approving a renewal. Horizon approval is based on whether the host office is satisfied with the fellow’s work quality, the fellow’s participation in the fellowship community, and the continued relevance of the fellow’s work to Horizon’s mission.

We typically start renewal conversations with the fellow and host office midway through the placement year. Fellows have the option to do their second term at a federal agency or think tank. We expect some to want to renew at their host office, but others may want to spend their second year elsewhere. The final placement choice is made by the fellow.

Will fellows have other responsibilities during their placement period?

We want fellows to be able to focus on their full-time congressional work during their placement. Horizon organizes social and other events for fellows, but most of the time these will take place after work hours. We will give host organizations advance notice on the rare occasion that fellows are required to miss work in order to participate in Horizon events. 

Financial and administrative information
Is the fellow’s salary paid for by Horizon?

Yes. We fully fund fellows’ salaries and benefits. Up-to-date information on amounts can be found on the applicant page.

Do fellows have access to benefits?

Yes. Fellows receive a generous stipend to acquire a private health insurance plan that works best for them on DC’s health exchange, and to cover additional medical expenses. Fellows also have a professional development budget and are eligible for support if they have to relocate to the Washington, DC area. Up-to-date information can be found on the applicant page.

Is the fellowship in compliance with congressional ethics rules?

Yes. House and Senate Ethics rules state, respectively, that fellowships should be part of an “education program” and “primarily of educational benefit” to the fellow. Horizon’s mission is to foster the next generation of public servants with expertise in emerging technology. We have designed our fellowship program to include both training and placements so that fellows develop a deep understanding of how the policy process works and where they can contribute. 

As a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization focused on growing pipelines into public service, Horizon does not take policy positions or engage in lobbying. We are supported solely through philanthropic funds and do not take corporate funds. More information about funders and fundraising policy is listed here.

Offices are also encouraged to ask fellows about individual circumstances (e.g. financial investments) to identify potential concerns around conflicts of interest.