In 1983, a local legislator, Bob Argo, made a comment in a class presentation that would change the lives of many Family and Consumer Sciences students.
He simply stated that he wished to be more responsive to his constituents in the form of answering letters, telephone calls, and visits to the capitol during the spring session of the General Assembly.
In response, Dean Emerita Emily Pou suggested a student assistant. Her offer was accepted. Because students would need financial support to live in Atlanta during the legislative session, Dean Pou asked Dr. Jessie Mize, former Department Head of Housing and Consumer Economics, for her support. Over the years, many others have contributed to this program.
The fellowship program is funded by the Mize Ritchie Legislative Aide or the Jack Ellard Legislative Aide endowments.
Since that time, the program has grown to include all five of the Athens area representatives. Over 160 students have particpated in the program.
This program has had many visionary leaders. From 1983-1993, Dr. Anne Sweaney served as the Legislative/Congressional Aide coordinator. This program has since been supervised by Emeritus Dean Richard Endsley, Associate Dean Chris Todd, Dr. Mick Coleman, Associate Dean Dr. Jorge Atiles, and Associate Dean Dr. Jan Hathcote. Currently this program is being supervised by Dean Linda Kirk Fox and Dr. Cara Simmons, program director and director of the Student Success and Advising Center.
In 2019, the name was changed from the Legislative Aide Internship Program to the Legislative Aide Leadership Fellows Program to highlight the complexity of their work and integrate more intentional professional and career development.