Five Questions with Kim Fuller
What is your fondest memory from your time working in the Bush Administration?
My fondest memory from my time as a volunteer press advance representative for the Bush Administration has to be the friends we made. Of course, many followed over from his father’s administration, but being my second time around, I was able to spend more time enjoying instead of learning my job. Still today, other staff, advance, military, and agents are like family, and I think that is often because of the way that the Bushes interacted with the staff and the people they met around the world. If you can believe it, we still correspond with drivers from Korea, Italy, and Tbilisi!
You’ve worked on all sides of the media – as press advance during the Bush Administration and on the campaign trail, at public relations firms, and as an assignment editor. What do you see as the media’s role in our society and democracy?
The role of the media is vital in a democracy. Having been involved with democracy-building around the world, and actually experiencing and seeing the nonexistence of a free media, I take the role of the media seriously. I am concerned about the extreme friction we are seeing today. The rise of fake news; the fact for years we haven’t fought back against the media when there is clear bias; and the lack of knowledge between news “personalities,” commentators, and actual reporters are issues we need to address. I think that while the news media is vital, we also need to build better relationships and trust between the fourth estate and those they cover.
Today, you’re the co-founder of the Find Me family of safety apps. How did you start down the app/tech entrepreneur path?
I think I have always been an “entrepreneur” at heart, but after I stopped working at “the pleasure of,” I said that I was going to act on the next great idea I had. I approached my cousin Tammy, who is a computer software architect with an emphasis on artificial intelligence, when I came up with the idea of our first app, Find Me Tornado. The app that we developed essentially can tell your family and friends (and we hope 911 systems and first responders in the future) that you need assistance following a tornado. I learned in 2014 that technology had not advanced since the first tornadoes that passed through Moore, Oklahoma in 1997, and people still have to go door-to-door and search under rubble to confirm if you are okay. The app activates on your smartphone when a tornado warning sounds and can be deactivated if you are okay. If you do not deactivate, your family and friends are sent a map of your location and an alert that you need assistance.
The key is that you just have to jump into the fire when you come up with an idea.
What value do you find in staying connected with local Bush-Cheney Alumni? Any highlights from the Los Angeles group’s first several months?
The most important part of the Alumni groups at the local level are that while we often know the people that were in our offices or who we worked with on a daily basis, for me, I didn’t know people if they didn’t travel on Air Force One—which means I didn’t know a lot of Bush Administration people. The regional groups allow us to meet and network with people that worked across agencies and during different time periods. Already, we have been able to help some of our area authors who have published books. We have just scheduled our second Los Angeles-area gathering and expect our attendance level to double.
What is your proudest moment from your years in the Administration?
My proudest moments are hard to select from, so I will pick the very first experience I had in the Bush Administration. In our short inaugural planning period, I was surprised to be named the chief organizer of the Salute to Veterans, hosted by the Vice President. The event was over-ticketed, and our event site was too small. As the planning came to a close, we knew we had to move it to another location. But my largest concern wasn’t the fact that we had to move the event—it was how can we host a Salute to Veterans and not have our commander in chief there?
So just days before the Inaugural, the Vice President extended an invitation to the President-Elect to make a surprise appearance at the Salute to Veterans. My proudest moment is what happened at the event. As Vice President Cheney announced President Bush in the room, approximately 100 Medal of Honor Recipients rose to their feet to salute their new commander in chief. That was the first of dozens of times that I experienced the pride and love for President Bush that our Nation had for him.