Institute for a Democratic Future is accepting applications for class of 2013!

Posted: August 31, 2012 in Events, Policy

I was fortunate enough to be selected as a 2012 Institute for a Democratic Future Fellow (IDF). Graduate school in the biomedical sciences provides basically no training or experience in science policy. Additionally, with a focus in psychology and biology during college, politics has never been something I am versed in. IDF is like a front row seat to the live documentary of Washington State and US politics. The first hand knowledge I gained pertaining to public policy and the legislative process has provided me a sound starting off point. I strongly encourage any young scientist interested in politics to apply for IDF.



IDF was established in late 1997 to develop and promote emerging generations of Democratic and civic leaders in Washington State. Founded by Dean Nielsen and Lisa Witter, the program was established in response to a lack of organizations or training at the time that offered a comprehensive learning experience for young adults.  The first class graduated 24 fellows in June of 1998.  IDF has graduated 376 students over the last fifteen years and is proud of the wide array of accomplishments of our alumni.

The Program Itself

IDF is a six-month fellowship from January through June, occurring over elevenintensive weekends.  During these weekends the program focuses on a diverse range of political topics. The program covers the nuts and bolts of campaigns and elections, geographic issues from around the state, and developing leadership skills with our fellows. The program offers a rich curriculum, networking opportunities, and will leave Fellows with lasting ties to their current class and other alumni. Fellows meet with elected officials, leading experts, business owners, lobbyists, nonprofit leaders, and people making a difference in their communities all over the state and in Washington D.C. We want our fellows to get engaged in the political process while introducing them to the people and issues that are affecting our state.  Each year IDF graduates a “farm team” of progressive leaders who go out into the world and make a difference within campaigns, policy jobs, non profits and work in their communities.

IDF offers training to exceptional Democratic women and Democratic men ages 21 to 36. The topics focus on three major areas:

  • Public policy and emerging issues
  • The legislative and political process
  • Campaigns and elections

Fellows travel across Washington State and topics cover a breadth of policy issues including agriculture, homelessness, transportation, education, energy, and the environment. Our days in Washington, DC and Olympia have included meeting elected officials, lobbyists and dignitaries. Campaign training includes development of a campaign plan, effective messaging and communications, volunteer recruitment and managing a budget.


More information:

Application period: September 1st – November 13th

Application fee: $25

Cost of 6 month program: $500

  1. Melinda Hough says:

    Hi Abbie,

    I think this a fantastic opportunity. It is great you are publicizing it! We need more scientists who understand the wider issues of world, maybe not all in politics, but at least understanding them.

    Have you thought about having a FOSEP event with previous participants to help demystify the ‘dirty’ image politics often has in science circles?


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