NIAF on Capitol Hill: Vol. 1

At the National Italian American Foundation (NIAF), we believe strongly in supporting future generations of the Italian American community. This is why we created the NIAF Congressional Fellowship; with it, we place outstanding Italian American college students, graduate students and recent graduates in the offices of members of the Italian American Congressional Delegation (IACD) on Capitol Hill to encourage and support the next generation of Italian American leadership.

Below, you’ll find the experience of one of our NIAF Congressional Fellows, and what they gained from their fellowship in American government.


Last spring, I was studying abroad at the University of Cambridge. Eagerly awaiting my return to Washington DC in the fall, I scavenged the George Washington University political science department listserv for internships and other professional opportunities. One week, I came across the NIAF Congressional Fellowship. Given my Italian American heritage and academic experiences in Italy, I knew I had to submit an application. In June, I was pleasantly surprised when I found out I was awarded the fellowship and assigned to Ohio Congressman Pat Tiberi’s office.

Despite my New Jersey roots, the Congressman and his staff were warm and welcoming the moment I arrived.  I quickly learned the importance of keeping up on the Buckeye games, but avoided the subject of the Cleveland Browns! I was assigned my own desk and rayburnthe full-time staffers coached me on intern tasks. One great part about my fellowship was the incredible exposure I was given to activities typical of a Congressional staffer. My colleagues encouraged me to attend hearings and markups. I very much enjoyed these experiences and would diligently take notes to report back to the staff. Another large part of my job was leading constituent tours of the Capitol. As a history nerd myself, I was happy to read up on the Capitol and plan my own tour route/script. It was fantastic to be able to interact face-to-face with constituents through a Capitol tour. I found these experiences to be extremely rewarding as I learned more about the Congressman’s district and those who inhabited it.

However, the aspect of my internship that I found the most illuminating was the time I spent handling front desk operations for the office. I was privileged to hear hundreds of stories from different Americans in the Congressman’s district. I learned so much about so many constituents. I found out what issues they were passionate about, how they felt about the presidential election, and what bills they wanted the Congressman to support. Moreover, I felt as though I had a pulse on the public.

In close, I had a rewarding experience in Congressman Tiberi’s office. I formed a bond with many of my fellow colleagues and I know they are only a phone call away. One day, I imagine I will return to the Capitol in order to serve the American public.


Daniel Fanelli

George Washington University’16

Hometown: Cedar Grove, NJ

Intern with Congressman Pat Tiberi (R-OH)


Learn more about NIAF’s Congressional Fellowship here!

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