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The George W. Bush Institute announces Holly Kuzmich stepping down as executive director; names David J. Kramer as successor

As executive director, Kramer will lead the strategic development of policy and programmatic efforts focused on the overall mission of the Bush Institute.

Press Release by Ioanna Papas July 7, 2022

DALLAS, Texas —The George W. Bush Institute today announced that Executive Director Holly Kuzmich will be stepping down later this year. David J. Kramer, who currently serves as the Bradford M. Freeman Managing Director of Global Policy, will step into the role upon Kuzmich’s departure. The Bush Institute is the non-partisan public policy arm of the George W. Bush Presidential Center.

Kuzmich, whose last day will be October 14, has served nine years in leadership roles at the Bush Institute. Prior to leading the organization, Kuzmich’s career included senior positions on Capitol Hill, at the White House, and at the U.S. Department of Education. Later this year, she will join the Draper Richards Kaplan Foundation, the largest global venture philanthropy firm supporting early stage, high impact social entrepreneurs, to expand its presence in Texas.

“Holly Kuzmich has been an outstanding executive director of the Bush Institute,” President George W. Bush said. “Her strong leadership improved our organization; her sharp mind improved our work; and her caring heart extended its reach. Laura and I are proud of Holly and what she leaves behind, and we will miss her.”

Under Kuzmich’s leadership, the Bush Institute has delivered significant results. During her tenure, the Bush Institute graduated nearly 1,000 scholars from its leadership programs, began a new initiative connecting veterans to high-quality mental health care, launched an effort to offer solution-oriented immigration policies, and partnered with public and private organizations to save lives in sub-Saharan Africa by screening nearly four million women for cervical cancer.

 “It’s been an honor and privilege to serve President and Mrs. Bush both in the Bush Administration and at the helm of Bush Institute,” Kuzmich said. “Thanks to our great team, we’ve been able to make a real difference in the lives of millions of people. I know David will continue this important work and provide critical perspective and leadership on the major issues we are facing at home and around the world.”

As executive director, Kramer will lead the strategic development of policy and programmatic efforts focused on the overall mission of the Bush Institute. He will help the team continue to look for solutions to solve our most pressing challenges and improve the quality of people’s lives here and abroad.

“David Kramer is a respected champion of democracy worldwide,” President Bush said. “He has already shown great leadership at the Bush Institute. He will bring intelligence, compassion, and experience to our efforts advancing freedom and prosperity. Laura and I congratulate David and look forward to continuing our work together.”

In his current role as Managing Director of Global Policy, Kramer has leveraged his expertise in promoting the Bush Institute’s work on advancing free societies with a focus on freedom and democracy, global health, and the advancement of women. Prior to joining the organization, Kramer served on the Bush Institute’s Advisory Council for the Human Freedom Initiative.

“I’m honored to build on the tremendous work carried out by Holly and the talented team here,” Kramer said. “The Bush Institute’s dedicated staff have developed significant momentum on issues facing our Nation and countries abroad, and I‘m humbled to be part of this great team.”

Before moving to Dallas, Kramer was a senior fellow at the Vaclav Havel Program on Human Rights and Diplomacy, and director of European and Eurasian Studies, at the Steven J. Green School of International and Public Affairs at Florida International University. Before moving to Miami in 2017, Kramer worked in Washington, D.C. for 24 years, including at the State Department, where he served as Assistant Secretary of State for Democracy, Human Rights and Labor, among other positions, during President Bush’s administration. He also worked at The McCain Institute for International Leadership as senior director for human rights and democracy. Prior to that, he served as President of Freedom House and is a former Senior Transatlantic Fellow at the German Marshall Fund of the United States.

“I’m truly grateful for Holly’s leadership and the impact she’s had on the Bush Institute,” said Kenneth A. Hersh, President and CEO of the George W. Bush Presidential Center. “As our next executive director, David will bring the background and skills to lead the organization into this next chapter. David shares the values of the Bush Institute, and I’m confident his extensive work and his leadership will be catalytic for the organization’s mission to ensure opportunity for all, strengthen democracy, and advance free societies.”

In addition to serving as Assistant Secretary of State for Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor, Kramer also served as Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs (responsible for Russia, Ukraine, Moldova, and Belarus affairs, as well as regional nonproliferation issues); professional staff member in the Secretary’s Office of Policy Planning; and Senior Advisor to the Undersecretary for Global Affairs. He also was executive director of the U.S. Advisory Commission on Public Diplomacy in Washington.

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About the George W. Bush Institute

The George W. Bush Institute is a solution-oriented nonpartisan policy organization focused on ensuring opportunity for all, strengthening democracy, and advancing free societies. Housed within the George W. Bush Presidential Center, the Bush Institute is rooted in compassionate conservative values and committed to creating positive, meaningful, and lasting change at home and abroad. We utilize our unique platform and convening power to advance solutions to national and global issues of the day. Learn more at bushcenter.org.