In 1964, President Johnson established the White House Fellows program to give outstanding professionals the chance to serve at the highest levels of government. Since then, the program has fostered many notable public servants, including former Secretary of State Colin Powell and Secretary of Labor Elaine Chao.
The 2005-06 fellows include Robert Reffkin ’03, a former investment banking associate at Lazard, who focused on mergers and acquisitions and developed the company’s first comprehensive tax training program for incoming bankers. “I am ecstatic,” says Reffkin, who was chosen from more than 5,000 applicants for the honor. “It’s an experience that will help me maximize the impact I can have in both the public and private sectors.”
Of the 12 fellows selected, Reffkin is the youngest, a distinction that has characterized his achievements to date. As an undergraduate at Columbia College, he completed a four-year program in just two years. A double major in history and economics-philosophy, he became the youngest analyst ever hired as McKinsey.
In September, Reffkin began a yearlong assignment as a special assistant to Secretary of the Treasury John W. Snow. When Reffkin spoke to HERMES in July, he was looking forward to the program’s speaker series, in which fellows engage in roundtable discussions with prominent leaders, including the president.