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Markkula Center for Applied Ethics

Government Ethics Fellowship

Columns outside of a courthouse.

Fellows work on projects at the intersection of policy and ethics with Professor John Pelissero, senior scholar and director of government ethics at the Ethics Center.

The Government Ethics Fellowship is open to students who are in good academic standing, are juniors or seniors during the fellowship year, and are majoring in the social sciences, humanities, or business.

The goal for the fellowship is to provide students with an academic research experience and an applied government experience that helps to develop one’s ethical awareness and ethical decision-making abilities. Each fellow develops a proposal to conduct research on a practical ethics issue in government, is engaged with Markkula Center projects at the intersection of public policy and government/political ethics, and is placed in a government office for an internship experience for part of the year. 

Plans for the 2023-24 academic year will include options for research and curriculum projects on civics education, civic engagement, and ethical approaches to voting and elections in the United States, as well as fellows’ individual ethics research projects. 

If selected, the fellowship requires approximately 4 to 5 hours a week working on the fellowship during the 2023-24 academic year.

The Government Ethics Fellowship is supported by a gift from Louise Aiello '73.


Apply for a Government Ethics Fellowship

2022-23 Government Ethics Fellows


Grace Davis '25

Hello! My name is Grace Davis and I am from the West side of Cleveland, Ohio. I am a sophomore double majoring in Political Science and Philosophy with a minor in Women & Gender Studies. I chose the intersection of politics and philosophy because I want my future work in politics to come from a background in philosophy and ethical judgement. This is how I found my aspiration to work in government ethics.

I became passionate about government ethics after getting invovled with the LGBT Community Center of Greater Cleveland back home. I did a lot of work focused on creating safe spaces for queer students and this expanded to a passion for education regulation, especailly sex education. This fire in me has only grown since Florida passed the "Don't Say Gay" bill and similar harmful bills are being debated in my homestate. My other interests in political ethics include voter suppression and gerrymandering, lobbying ethics, and the ethics surrounding policy that pushes a Christian nationalist agenda. I am incredibly grateful to have the opportunity to work with the Markkula Center to continue to foster my passions and to begin the trajectory of what I hope is a career that will provide space for all people, not just those with the systemically-favored resources to succeed.

I am also the Assistant Director for the Santa Clara Community Action Program (SCCAP) for the 2022-2023 school year, where we focus on social justice and service both on and off-campus. In my free time, I love live music, hiking, and any chance to go grab a cup of coffee.


Malia Gibbs '24

I am a junior Political Science and Management student with minors in International Studies and Professional Writing. In addition to the Government Ethics Fellows program I will be studying in Washington DC in the Fall of 2022 while working in Congressman Jimmy Panetta’s office representing California’s 20th district. I hope to travel to Egypt or Yemen by the summer of 2024 (my graduation year) and draft a proposal to support the agency of the general population through democratization. My research within the Government Ethics program are about domestic voter disenfranchisement and alternatives to a two party system to support our current electorate’s needs. Internationally I am interested in the democratic prospects of countries that participated in the Arab Spring, particularly Yemen’s. I have always been interested in the discrepancies between the desire for self governance and the actualization of citizen representation in government systems. I’m involved with several on-campus organizations including TEDxSCU, the Black Business Association, and QPOCA.

Ranee Sanford '23

I am a current senior majoring in Political Science with a minor in Economics. I grew up in Waukegan, IL and since my time here at Santa Clara, I have been apart of the Black Student Union, Santa Clara’s Investment Fund, and the Black Business Association. During my sophomore and junior year I spent majority of my time doing research on the mass incarceration of Black men and what factors have contributed to it. I have been interested in this area for about 11 years now and hope to become even more knowledgeable in the subject.

I am eager to do more research in this area and understand what governmental factors have also played a role. To be more specific, I plan to do more research on The War on Drugs Campaign and acknowledge the ethical concerns that have sprung from it. This is a very important topic to me and I plan to challenge myself to understanding it to its fullest extent. In the near future, I aspire to become a lawyer and give back to underserved communities.