The Stennis Center

About Us

The John C. Stennis Center for Public Service Training and Development (Stennis Center for Public Service) is a federal, bipartisan legislative branch agency established by the United States Congress to promote public service and strengthen the highest ideals of public service in America. Codified in 1988, the Stennis Center provides a variety of public service programs and development opportunities for young people, leaders in local, state, and federal governments, as well as congressional staff. In addition to its Starkville, Mississippi, headquarters, the Center also has a Washington, D.C., office on Capitol Hill.

The Center has three Congressional programs. The first is the Stennis Congressional Staff Fellows Program—a practical, bipartisan leadership development experience for senior-level staff members of the Congress. The second is the Stennis Program for Congressional Interns, which provides congressional summer interns the opportunity to better understand the role Congress plays in our democracy through a series of discussion sessions with leaders from Capitol Hill. The third is the Emerging Congressional Staff Leaders Program—a mentorship program that pairs veteran congressional staff with younger staff who have demonstrated leadership potential on Capitol Hill. 

The Stennis Center also provides opportunities for military service members to connect with Members of Congress and their staff through a variety of programs. The first is the Leadership Dialogue & Discussion program, which brings together top members from the military and Congress, thereby enabling them to learn more about military life, values, institutions, and culture. The Symposium on Civil-Military Relations Program is an interactive and informative symposium where former senior officials of the U.S. Department of Defense, current staff from the Pentagon, congressional experts, and those from think tanks discuss and dissect how Congress can help bridge the gap between civilians and military personnel. Additionally, the Center, in partnership with the U.S. Naval Academy, sends Congressional staffers to the U.S. Naval Academy for a discussion program with cadets about their public service experiences. Finally, the Prospective Commanding Officer (PCO) program provides opportunities for PCOs to understand the interests and interactions of Congress and the civilian leadership of the government.

The Center’s Student programs include four main initiatives. First, Congress to Campus, in partnership with the U.S. Association of Former Members of Congress, sends Former Members of Congress to college campuses throughout the U.S. to discuss their experiences in public service and the importance of public affairs. Second, the Center’s student speech and debate tournaments provide competition opportunities for students from across the nation. At the Center’s largest tournament, National Student Congress, as part of the National Speech and Debate Association’s National Tournament, more than 600 students represent their districts each year. The Center also hosts annual Scholars Days on Capitol Hill as part of its partnerships with the Harry S. Truman Scholarship Foundation and Mississippi State University’s Shackouls Honors College. Lastly, Young Public Servants of Color is a program designed to inform and elevate young students of color interested in public service. In addition to these initiatives, the Center also created the Stennis Service Corps, which encourages national service/volunteerism and promotes public service as a career choice.

Additionally, one of the Center’s primary training programs is the Women in Public Service (WIPS) program. Established in 1991, WIPS brings together women from all levels and branches of government, as well as from academia and the nonprofit sector, to inform, maintain, and advance women in public service. The program has featured distinguished guests such as Hillary Clinton, Elizabeth Dole, and Geraldine Ferraro.

Our Mission

The Stennis Center for Public Service’s congressional mandate is to attract young people to careers in public service, provide training for leaders in, or likely to be in, public service, and offer training and development opportunities for senior congressional staff, Members of Congress, and other public service leaders.

Senator Stennis

John C. Stennis was born on August 3, 1901, in Dekalb, Mississippi. He received his undergraduate degree from Mississippi State University (then Mississippi A&M) in 1923 and obtained a law degree from the University of Virginia in 1928. Stennis began his career in public service when he was elected to the Mississippi House of Representatives in 1928. He also served as prosecuting attorney in Mississippi’s sixteenth judicial district from 1932-1937 and later became a circuit judge in that same district.

Stennis was first elected to the United States Senate in 1947, where he served for 41 years—the second-longest tenure in the history of our nation. Senator Stennis was also elected as President Pro Tempore of the U.S. Senate of the 100th Congress. As Chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee from 1969 to 1980, Senator Stennis stood firm for a strong U.S. military and earned the moniker of “the father of America’s modern Navy.”

Senator Stennis retired from the U.S. Senate in 1988. He passed away on April 23, 1995, at the age of 93.

One Research Boulevard, Suite 104, Starkville, MS 39759

(662) 325-8409 • Fax (662) 325-8623

201 Massachusetts Avenue, NE, Suite C-7, Washington, DC 20002 

(202) 546-1837 • Fax (202) 546-3841

One Research Boulevard, Suite 104, Starkville, MS 39759

(662) 325-8409 • Fax (662) 325-8623

201 Mass. Avenue, NE, Suite C-7, Washington, DC 20002 

(202) 546-1837 • Fax (202) 546-3841