Kevin Flores, Springdale attorney, is second Arkansan ever named a White House Fellow

by Paul Gatling ([email protected]) 986 views 

Springdale attorney and former city councilman Kevin Flores has been appointed to the 2022-2023 class of White House Fellows.

The President’s Commission on White House Fellowships appointed this year’s 15-person class on Wednesday (Sept. 14). Fellowships are based in Washington, D.C., and last one year.

Flores, 34, was elected in 2020 to the Springdale City Council. He resigned recently for the White House Fellows program, which started Aug. 29. According to the Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, the City Council on Tuesday voted 6-1 to appoint Rex Bailey, a former councilman, to fill the vacant position.

“I am humbled, proud, and honored to have been selected to continue my public service as a White House Fellow,” Flores told the Northwest Arkansas Business Journal. “This is the most prestigious leadership program in our country, and for a Springdale kid like me to have been chosen is a big deal.”

Flores, a member of the Northwest Arkansas Business Journal’s 2021 Forty Under 40 class, fled El Salvador for the United States when he was three and moved to Springdale when he was 6. He is just the second Arkansan selected for the White House Fellows program, joining Wesley Clark (1975-1976), the retired U.S. four-star general and former NATO commander in Europe (1997-2000).

Flores said that as an immigrant and son of a single mother, he realizes the opportunity he has in Washington, D.C.

“I accepted this opportunity with two things in mind,” he said. “I owe it to my American journey to strive to be the best I can be. I wanted to understand the intricacies of our federal government better so that I can return to Springdale, the Northwest Arkansas region, and the state, and be able to better serve our residents in any capacity.”

Founded in 1964, the President’s Commission on White House Fellowships offers firsthand experience working at the highest levels of the federal government. According to the White House news release, the individuals selected on a nonpartisan basis spend the year working as paid fellows for senior White House staff, Cabinet secretaries and other top-ranking government officials.

“These Fellows bring experience from across the country and from a broad cross-section of professions, including from the private sector, local government, academia, the non-profit sector, medicine, law, and the armed forces,” the White House statement said.

The fellows also participate in roundtable discussions with renowned leaders from the private and public sectors. 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.

Flores will work at the Small Business Administration.

The White House announcement said this about Flores:

Born in El Salvador, he and his family came to the U.S. upon fleeing the Salvadoran civil war. At seventeen, Kevin enlisted in the U.S. Marine Corps, where he deployed to Iraq in 2007 and was then assigned to the State Department as an embassy security guard. Kevin later worked at the Brookings Institution in Washington, D.C., before returning to Arkansas. In 2020, he became the first Hispanic and first immigrant elected to the Springdale City Council. Kevin has served on numerous non-profit boards and is an active Rotarian. He has founded various mentoring programs and bilingual professional programs in Springdale Public Schools, the largest school district in Arkansas. Kevin earned a B.A. in International Political Economics from Fordham University and a J.D. from the University of Arkansas School of Law. 

Notable White House Fellows alums include award-winning presidential historian Doris Kearns Goodwin, CNN’s Dr. Sanjay Gupta, former Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao and former Secretary of State and General Colin Powell.