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In this Bush Institute Q&A, Holly Kuzmich, Executive Director of the George W. Bush Institute and Senior Vice President of the George W. Bush Presidential Center, shares her goals for the Bush Institute in 2017. She also looks back at the work of the Bush Institute since its launch in 2011.
This year will mark the sixth anniversary of the Bush Institute. How has it made its mark? And what does the Bush Institute need to do next?
Six years is still relatively young for an organization, but we’re proud of the work we’ve accomplished so far. We’ve begun to establish ourselves as leaders on key issues like school leadership and veteran transition, and our leadership programs have trained nearly 300 people in the few short years we have been in existence. Now that we’ve gotten our footing, what we’re looking to do next is scale our work and partner with those organizations that can allow us to reach more people.
Now that we’ve gotten our footing, what we’re looking to do next is scale our work and partner with those organizations that can allow us to reach more people.
What should people expect to see from the Bush Institute this year?
President Bush’s book of his paintings and the stories of wounded warriors that he has met through our Military Service Initiative will allow us to engage even more fully on how we best ensure that post-9/11 veterans are getting the care they need to treat Post-Traumatic Stress (PTS) and Traumatic Brain Injuries (TBI). Half of returning veterans who have PTS or TBI do not seek help for their injuries, and we are working to ensure that changes.
And you will see a focus on our global leadership work this year, from expanding the work our partner organization, Pink Ribbon Red Ribbon, is doing to combat cervical cancer and breast cancer in Africa, to a focus on the issues of freedom and security and why it is in the interest of American peace, prosperity, and security to lead in the advance of freedom and free markets abroad. This is a particularly timely issue as confidence is waning in the institutions of democracy both here and around the world.
When we gather to look back at 2017, how will you define progress for the Bush Institute?
A new President and incoming Congress present new opportunities to get our work in front of policymakers.
A new President and incoming Congress present new opportunities to get our work in front of policymakers. For many of the issues that we work on that are relevant to them, like how to handle the nexus between nuclear issues and human rights abuses in North Korea, our trilateral relationship with Mexico and Canada, and providing the best care to our returning 9/11 veterans, we will work to educate them on our research and policy recommendations on important issues facing our country and the world.
In addition to our policy work, 2017 is an opportunity for us to refine our work on leadership at the Bush Institute. Through our three leadership programs, the Women’s Initiative Fellowship for women leaders in the Middle East, the Liberty and Leadership Forum for young leaders in Burma, and Presidential Leadership Scholars for mid-career leaders in the United States, we are finding unique ways to use the assets of the Bush administration, our large network, and the faculty at SMU to work with leaders here and around the world.
Holly Kuzmich serves as Executive Director of the George W. Bush Institute and Senior Vice President at the George W. Bush Presidential Center. She oversees the strategy and management of the Bush Institute, an action-oriented policy organization that cultivates leaders, fosters policies to solve today’s most pressing challenges, and takes action to save and change lives. Specific areas of focus within the Institute include education reform, economic growth, human freedom and democracy, global health, the military service initiative, the women’s initiative, and the Presidential Leadership Scholars program. Holly also serves as a member of the management team of the Bush Center, leading strategic planning and budgeting and board relations.
Previously, she was Vice President and COO of Margaret Spellings & Company, a public policy consulting firm with a specialty in education and workforce issues at the national, state, and local levels. Holly also served as the Assistant Secretary for Legislation and Congressional Affairs and Deputy Chief of Staff at the U.S. Department of Education. In those roles, she served as the main liaison with Congress, the White House, and the Office of Management and Budget on education policy issues including the No Child Left Behind Act and the Higher Education Act and oversaw policy development within the agency.
Holly came to the Department from the White House Domestic Policy Council, where she served as Associate Director for Education. Prior to that, she spent five years working in the U.S. Senate on domestic policy issues.
A native of South Bend, Indiana, she received her bachelor's degree from Northwestern University.Full Bio