100 Days at SMU
Engineering to the rescue of threatened art (from the New Yorker)

The George W. Bush Presidential Center

Bush-center-logo(Logo credit: bushcenter.org) The last seminar of the Emerging Leaders Seminar series at SMU was at the George W. Bush Presidential Center, which opened in April 2013 right next to SMU and houses former President George W. Bush's presidential library and center, the George W. Bush Policy Institute and the offices of the George W. Bush Foundation. I was impressed by Holly Kuzmich's presentation of the center, about which I knew close to nothing before the seminar and which does important policy and humanitarian work, no matter what you think of George W. Bush (GWB)'s presidency, so I figured I'd write a post about the presentation and the center. What follows is my transcript of the presentation's deck of slides. Obviously all inaccuracies are my fault.

The vision of the center echoes GWB's remarks in London in November 2003, where he emphasized his belief in open societies ordered by moral conviction, private markets humanized by compassionate government, and economies that reward effort, communities that protect the weak and the duty of nations to respect the dignity and the rights of all. Its mission is to "engag[e] communities in the United States and around the world by developing leaders, advancing policy and taking action to solve today's most pressing challenges." 

It has 3 broad impact centers: 

  • Domestic excellence
    • Economic growth initiative
      • Advocating free market principles that promote economic growth and further economic integration throughout North America, enabling the U.S. to better compete in the global economy.
        • Developing a North America Policy Agenda for Global Competitiveness (Competitiveness Scorecard, North American Working Group)
        • Releasing data and research outlining how smart immigration policy can be used to raise the pace of U.S. economic growth and GDP and reduce the federal deficit.
    • Education reform initiative
      • Increasing student achievement and improving the quality of our schools by using data and research-based education practices and policies with a focus on accountability and principal leadership.
        • State of Our Cities: an online tool that compares data from over 100 school districts in cities across the nation on academic outcomes, college and career readiness, school finance and other objective measures in education.
        • The Alliance to Reform Education Leadership (AREL): transforming districts' talent management of school principals to help districts have the knowledge and tools to attract and retain effective principals.
        • Middle School Matters: resources to help educators use data-driven research and practices in the classroom to increase student achievement.
        • The Laura Bush Foundation for America's Libraries: provides grants to the nation's neediest schools to expand and update book and print collections.
    • Military service initiative
      • Ensuring post-9/11 veterans and their families make successful transitions to civilian life with a focus on gaining meaningful employment and overcoming the invisible wounds of war.
        • Focus is on helping the 2.7 million veterans who have served since 9/11 transition back to civilian life.
        • Developed the Veteran Employment Transition (VET) Roadmap to help veterans navigate the employment resources available as they transition to post-military careers and partnering with leading veteran-serving and employment coalitions to increase use and adoption of the VET roadmap. 
        • Veteran Wellness: Developed resources to raise awareness and reduce the stigma associated with the invisible wounds of war. Future work will focus on increasing the number of veterans seeking and receiving high-quality care (especially the over half who access care in the private health care system), expanding peer-to-peer networks and creating an alliance of quality providers.
    • Presidential leadership scholars
      • Enhancing the leadership impact of selected high performing mid-career professionals who share a desire to create positive change in their communities and across the nation, in partnership with the presidential center of William J. Clinton, George H.W. Bush, and Lyndon B. Johnson. [AT's note: they are all nearby: WJC in Little Rock, AR, GHWB's in College Station, TX, LBJ's in Austin, TX]
        • First of its kind program began in 2015, providing a bipartisan curriculum to teach leadership skills through the prism of Presidential case studies.
        • Diverse group of scholars selected to participate from across the country and across the economy.
        • Scholars bring to the program a Personal Leadership Project that the program is designed to help catalyze in their communities.
  • Global leadership
    • Global health initiative
      • Saving women's lives in the developing world from cervical and breast cancer through the global work of the Pink Ribbon Red Ribbon affiliate.
        • Launched in September 2011 by the Bush Institute, the U.S. Government (through the President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief), Susan G. Komen (R) and the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS), Pink Ribbon Red Ribbon has grown to more than 20 partners. 
        • Currently operating in Botswana, Ethiopia, Namibia, Tanzania and Zambia with plans to expand to Peru.
        • More than 315,000 women have been screened for cervical cancer since program inception in 2011. More than 15,000 women have been screened for breast cancer. More than 119,000 girls have been vaccinated against HPV.
    • Human freedom initiative
      • Extending freedom, which is essential to lasting peace and prosperity at home and around the world, by developing leaders in emerging democracies, standing with those who live under tyranny, and fostering U.S. leadership through policy and action.
        • The Liberty and Leadership Forum: an innovative educational and training program that equips young leaders with the knowledge and skills they need to succeed during a democratic transition. To date, almost 60 young Burmese leaders have benefited from the program.
        • The Freedom in North Korea Initiative emphasizes that we cannot meet North Korea's threat by solely focusing on security issues and ignoring their human rights abuses through research and policy recommendations. Because North Korean refugees face particular challenges in accessing an education, the GWB Presidential Center initiated a scholarship fund to help them rebuild their lives in the United States.
        • Upcoming project: a major initiative to revitalize consensus on the imperative of leadership from the United States and other free societies to advance freedom, free markets and security. 
    • Women's initiative
      • Empowering women worldwide by promoting access to education, healthcare, and economic opportunity and supporting First Ladies from around the world in using their unique platforms effectively. 
        • The First Ladies Initiative: supports First Ladies around the world by partnering with them to advance critical interventions for women and children and supporting their staffs by providing technical training and partnership opportunities.
        • The Women's Initiative Fellowship: empowers and equips women from the Middle East and North Africa with the skills to become effective leaders in their countries.
        • The Afghan Women's Project spotlights the struggles and successes of Afghan women. (2016 Bush Institute publication: We are Afghan Women: Voices of Hope)
  • Engagement agenda
    • Library and museum
      • Promoting a greater understanding of the American presidency and examining the consequential times during which President Bush served.
        • Permanent gallery offers a September 11 exhibit, a replica Oval Office and a first-hand look at presidential decision-making in Decision Points Theater.
        • Special exhibits: "Path to the Presidency" in 2016, "Portraits of Courage" in 2017 (GWB's art exhibit tied to the center's work helping veterans overcome the invisible wounds of war [and the publication of his book with veterans' portraits and stories -AT]
        • Partners at the National Archives maintain access to the records of the Bush administration for historians to explore and analyze the times during which GWB served. 
    • Public programming and publications
      • Connecting our work to today's most pressing issues and engaging the public in compelling ways to remain an important part of the national conversation.
        • "Engage at the Bush Center," a series that brings authors, thought leaders, and innovators to the Bush Center stage for thought-provoking lectures and conversations.
        • The Catalyst, a digital quarterly policy journal.
        • Various weekly and bi-monthly e-bulletins.
    • SMU community engagement activities.
      • Enriching the SMU community by attracting leaders to the area, partnering with the faculty in the center's work, offering unique learning experiences for students, and bringing the natural beauty of the center's Native Texas Park to the campus.
        • Internships for SMU students
        • Opportunities for graduate students to do research projects at the Bush Institute through the Niemi Center
        • Faculty teaching in the center's leadership programs
        • Joint endowment to share resources with faculty in pursuing scholarly research and in programming
        • Community engagement opportunities.

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