Former Indianapolis Mayor Bart Peterson has launched a fellowship program at the IU School of Public and Environmental Affairs at IUPUI. The Peterson Fellows program will give a SPEA graduate student a one-year paid internship with the mayor's office in Indianapolis.

The immersive internship will see the recipients working on select projects within the mayor's office that will address specific challenges in the city. Peterson, a member of the school's dean's council, says he established the program to give students hands-on experience in local government.

"It has long been a dream of mine to support a fellowship within the mayor's office," said Peterson. "When I was working with Gov. Evan Bayh's administration in the early 1990s, I was inspired by the work of the young men and women who served as Governor's Fellows. I wanted to do something similar for the city of Indianapolis, giving students who have an interest in a career in public service and civic leadership the opportunity to work within city government on projects that align with the mayor's initiatives."

Peterson Fellows will work a minimum of 800 hours during their internship with the city, during which they will work in other city departments beyond the mayor's office. The first Peterson Fellow, Andre Zhang Sonera, began his internship in mid-June after graduating with a bachelor's degree in civic leadership. 

"The Peterson Fellows are an important part of Mayor Peterson's legacy to the city of Indianapolis," said Indianapolis Mayor Joe Hogsett. "By investing in young people with a heart for public service, we will benefit not only from their ideas and energy but from the impact they will have on our community for decades to come. I am pleased to welcome Andre as the first Peterson Fellow and look forward to seeing him grow as a leader and public servant throughout the next year."

The Peterson Fellows program will be managed by Tim Moriarty, special counsel to Mayor Hogsett.