Record Number of Rollins Students Accepted Into the 2021 Presidential Management Fellows Program

December 12, 2020

By Karina Antenucci


Directed by the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, the Presidential Management Fellows (PMF) program is the federal government’s flagship leadership development program at the entry level for advanced-degree candidates. From a pool of 6,800 applicants from across the U.S., 549 candidates were selected for the prestigious two-year training and leadership development program this year, 13 of whom were from Emory University. Of those 13 students, 10 were from the Rollins School of Public Health, marking a record number for Rollins.

The PMF Program was created three decades ago by Executive Order to attract outstanding men and women from various career paths into federal service and develop prospective government leaders. “By drawing graduate students from diverse social and cultural backgrounds, the PMF Program provides a continuing source of trained men and women to meet the future challenges of public service,” says Roger Presswood, interim director and career coach at Emory’s Office of Career Development.

This paid fellowship is a fast-paced leadership opportunity for fellows to gain experience and develop talents at a federal agency. Participants receive 160 hours of formal interactive training, mentorship, developmental assignments and potential for promotions and career advancements. Unlike other fellowship programs where students are placed into a job role, PMF allows the graduates to interview with federal agencies and select the open position that is right for them. “Students are able to choose from a variety of divisions and opportunities over the course of a year, and are not just dropped into a role,” says Presswood. 

The PMF Program is an attractive opportunity for Rollins students for several reasons. Sam Ramosevac, program manager/career coach at Emory’s Office of Career Development, who helped several applicants navigate the application process including five of the 2021 fellows, explains, “It is the Presidential Management Fellows Program. This is the highest level of fellowship award, and many students like the prestige that comes with the name. It’s also management level. Students with under 5 years of on-the-job experience are getting a higher level of management leadership skills through this fellowship without an expectation of experience or skills that might come with another job opportunity.”

Another big draw is that the fellowship has the potential to open the door to a full-time job offer at one of the federal organizations after two years. “Many fellows receive full-time offers once they complete the program,” says Ramosevac. 

One of the 2021 PMF fellows, Paul Elish 21PH, has been interested in public service since high school, when he had the opportunity to participate in the United States Senate Youth Program in Washington, D.C. Elish says, “I applied for the fellowship with the goal of contributing different skills gained at Rollins and in previous professional experiences as a public servant working in public health. The PMF Program emphasizes exploring different professional growth opportunities across the federal government, so I think it's a great way to get exposed to different federal career trajectories. I also think the opportunity to connect with PMF’s large network across federal agencies is exciting, including the community of Rollins alumni PMFs.”  

Another 2021 PMF fellow, Lila Siwakoti 21PH has a long-term career goal to work as a Health Policy Analyst at a state or federal agency, and is using the PMF Program as a stepping stone towards fulfilling that goal. “This opportunity means a lot to me. It means the opportunity to make a positive impact on people’s lives. It means working with senior-level government leaders to solve important problems. It also means the opportunity to apply what I learn in graduate school directly to real life situation. The possibility of countless opportunities while at the same time offering me a chance to make a larger positive impact really motivated me to apply for the PMF,” Siwakoti says. 

Through PMF, many Rollins students naturally gravitate toward a fellowship at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta, however, some select another federal agency, such as the National Institutes of Health or the U.S. Food and Drug Administration in Washington, D.C. “Rollins graduates have a history of having great success in the PMF Program and continuing on with leadership roles at the CDC and other organizations,”Presswood says. 

The PMF experience is applicable to any future career path of a Rollins student, whether that may continue to be in public service or the private sector, academia, or the non-profit world.

Congratulations to the Rollins Class of 2021 students awarded the 2021 Presidential Management Fellowship!

Emma Butturini

Trevor Pugh

Madison Cahill

Lila Siwakoti

Paul Elish

Claire Talbert

Daniel Milan

Rachel Weingart

Caroline Olsen

Marilyn Werner


 For more information regarding PMF, visit and