New White House Fellows Include Three Philadelphians A Local Doctor And Two Lawyers Were Chosen. They Will Observe Washington's Workings From Within.

Posted: June 22, 1995

Kinney Zalesne is an assistant district attorney and a cantor at Society Hill Synagogue.

Anthony D. So is a physician and an organizer for the Asian-American Health Care Network.

James J. Eisenhower 3d, a former federal prosecutor, is chief counsel for Philadelphia's Police Advisory Commission.

These three super-achievers, all from Philadelphia, have new plums for their resumes and the opportunity to view the upper levels of the federal government from the inside. They're now White House Fellows.

Zalesne, So and Eisenhower are among 14 people named yesterday as the 31st class of fellows, a select group who learn the ropes in Washington by working with cabinet secretaries and agency administrators.

It is rare for so many White House Fellows to hail from a single city. ''Philadelphia represents nearly 20 percent of the class, which is unusual for any geographic area," said John Shiffman, the program's associate director.

Zalesne said: "Philadelphia should be very proud. The whole program is about learning skills and bringing them back to your local community. It's a real prize for the city."

Past fellows include Colin L. Powell, former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff; Housing Secretary Henry G. Cisneros; Tom Johnson, head of CNN; and Rep. Joe L. Barton (R., Texas).

The program was created in 1964 by President Lyndon B. Johnson. Current administrator Brooke Shearer said the aim is to attract "the best and the brightest" to Washington.

This year, about 900 applicants vied for the honor. Finalists were selected on the basis of essays, achievements and multiple rounds of personal interviews.

"It was very tough," Zalesne said.

The winners were notified by telephone Tuesday night. They'll start their new jobs around Labor Day.

Philadelphia has one fellow in this year's class, Michael Levitan of Wyncote, who is assigned to the Domestic Policy Council. Rod von Lipsey, another Philadelphian, was in the previous class. He worked for then White House chief of staff Thomas F. "Mack" McLarty 3d.

The fellowship program costs about $2.5 million annually, which pays for the extensive selection process, a $65,000 salary for each fellow, and a few trips.

Zalesne, 29, graduated from Yale University and Harvard Law School. She clerked for U.S. District Judge J. William Ditter Jr. before going to the district attorney's office two years ago.

In an essay that was part of the fellowship application, Zalesne outlined an idea for changing the way federal money is distributed to urban schools.

"The real root of crime-fighting is to address all the problems that arise in a big city like Philadelphia: education, jobs, housing," she said. "My feeling is that policy makers have to address the whole web at once."

So, 34, has a medical degree from the University of Michigan and a master's in public affairs from the Woodrow Wilson School at Princeton University. He works at the American College of Physicians, and teaches and does research at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania.

His career goal, he said, "is to have an impact on changing the practices of physicians to improve the quality of patient care."

Eisenhower, 37 - "very distantly related" to President Dwight D. Eisenhower - graduated from Temple University and Antioch Law School (in Washington), then studied legal philosophy and jurisprudence for three years at Oxford University as a Marshall Scholar.

He has prosecuted police brutality and racial violence cases for the U.S. Justice Department and worked as an assistant U.S. attorney in Philadelphia and as an aide to former Congressman Bob Edgar. He is now in private practice.

The fellowship "is a chance to learn a lot, and hopefully, I can contribute something," Eisenhower said. "I hope to come back to Philadelphia, and give something back to the community."

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