The President’s Commission on White House Fellows announced the appointment of the 2021-2022 class of White House Fellows, the most diverse class in the history of the program. The prestigious White House Fellowship program embeds professionals from diverse backgrounds for a year of working as a full-time, paid fellow for White House staff, Cabinet Secretaries, and other senior government officials.
President Lyndon B. Johnson created the White House Fellows Program in 1964 with the purpose of “give[ing] the Fellows first hand, high-level experience with the workings of the Federal Government and to increase their sense of participation in national affairs.” The Fellowship functions as a non-partisan program maintained throughout both Republican and Democratic administrations. Throughout the year, Fellows actively participate in an education program that expands their knowledge of leadership, policy-making, and contemporary issues. The mission of the White House Fellows Program is to encourage active citizenship and service to the country.
Selection into the program is based on a record of professional accomplishment, evidence of leadership skills, the potential for further growth, and a commitment to service. This year’s White House Fellows advanced through a highly competitive selection process, and they are a remarkably gifted, passionate, and accomplished group. Over half of the fellows are women and overall reflect the diversity of America. These fellows bring experience from a broad cross-section of professions, from the private sector, local government, academia, medicine, law, and the military.
Garth Walker is from Chicago, Illinois and is placed at the Office of the Surgeon General. Garth is an academic public health expert and physician leader working to eliminate structural barriers which limit marginalized communities’ access to quality healthcare. He is Deputy Director at the Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH), Assistant Professor in Emergency Medicine at Northwestern University, and an Emergency Physician at Jesse Brown Veteran Affairs Hospital. At IDPH, Garth leads on key statewide health issues. He drives strategy on men’s health and co-leads the state’s response to the opioid crisis. During COVID-19, he developed messaging to address vaccine hesitancy and established a statewide town hall program, targeting marginalized communities. To provide public health information about COVID-19, he has been featured on news networks, including MSNBC, ABC, and Yahoo. Garth has published for scientific journals addressing gun violence and opioids. He has also written various op-eds for The Chicago Sun-Times, Forbes, and other publications, with a focus on social determinants of health. Garth is a mayoral appointment for Chicago’s equity advisory board, an Economic Club of Chicago member, a Leadership Greater Chicago Fellow, and Urban League IMPACT Fellow. He earned his B.A. in Economics and M.D. from University of Illinois, his M.P.H. from Northwestern, and clinical training from University of Chicago.