SPRINGDALE, Ark. (KNWA/KFTA) — Attorney and former Springdale City Counselman Kevin Flores, 34, is one of 15 people in the country to be appointed to the 2022-2023 Class of White House Fellows.

Kevin Flores outside the West Wing of the White House

The White House Fellows program is considered one of the nation’s most prestigious for leadership and public service. 

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General Wesley Clark

“It’s an issue of pride,” Flores said. “I’m the second Arkansan after our very own General Wesley Clark who did it in the 1970s, then as an active duty major.”

Founded by Lyndon B. Johnson in 1964, the program offers emerging leaders first-hand experience working at the highest levels of the Federal government.

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Former President Lyndon B. Johnson

Flores said, “some of the most notable [White House Fellows] are General Colin Powell, Sanjay Gupta over at CNN, Secretary Elaine Chao and many, many more.”

He described the application process as long and grueling that took about two months to complete. He said about 4,000 people from around the country applied then it was dwindled down to the 15 chosen.

“I think if anything being an Arkansan, being this blue-collar kid that that is working his way through life and, you know, served his country and served this city really stood me out as a candidate,” he said.

Flores had to move to Washington, D.C. for the fellowship, where he’s working at the Small Business Administration.

“Seeing how legislation is incorporated at the agency level as far as the federal agencies but also how it’s incorporated and really turned out at the White House down to two agencies and eventually due to our local government,” he said.

In order to dedicate the time to the yearlong program, Flores resigned from the Springdale City Council in August 2022.

He was the first Latino and immigrant elected to the council and he served Position 2 in Ward 2, which covers Springdale’s southeastern side.

“This was an opportunity that I felt would make me a better leader. It would ultimately help out my community even more through the knowledge and experience that I’m gaining here. It was a once in a lifetime opportunity that I just couldn’t pass up,” Flores said.

Public service has been a huge part of Flores’ life. He joined the Marine Corps right after he graduated from Springdale High School.

He was assigned to Okinawa, Japan before he was deployed to the Middle East.

“The majority of that time [was] spent as a Marine security guard at embassies across the world. I also did a tour in Iraq back in 2007/08,” he said.

It was in Iraq where Flores officially became a U.S. citizen. His family immigrated to the United States when he was three years old. They fled the Civil War in El Salvador.

“It was really instilled in me to appreciate the freedom of this country and the luxuries that our society provides so, you know, from an early age, I was really proud to be here,” Flores said.

He served the Marine Corps for a total of six years.

“I loved being a Marine, but I also wanted to pursue my education, and that’s led me to other opportunities and opportunities to serve others,” Flores said.

He went on to earn a Bachelor of Arts in International Political Economics from Fordham University and a Juris Doctor from the University of Arkansas, School of Law.

As far as where his experience as a White House Fellow will take him, Flores said, “my intent here is to go back to Springdale, go to Northwest Arkansas and the state and help out wherever I can.”

Flores will complete the fellowship in August 2023.