2017 Graduation of Presidential Leadership Scholars


July 13, 2017

President George W. Bush and President Bill Clinton participated in a conversation focused on leadership moderated by David Rubenstein at the George W. Bush Presidential Center in Dallas. The event is part of the graduation ceremony for 60 members of the 2017 Class of the Presidential Leadership Scholars (PLS) Program.


The PLS program is a unique leadership development initiative that draws upon the resources of the presidential centers of Lyndon B. Johnson, George H.W. Bush, William J. Clinton and George W. Bush. Since its inception in 2015, over 95 percent of past Scholars have reported significant growth in their inspiration and sense of purpose as leaders, most of which they attribute to PLS.


The third class of 60 scholars was selected during a rigorous process that began with more than 400 applications. Scholars were selected based on their leadership growth potential and the strength of their personal leadership projects aimed at improving the civic or social good by addressing a problem or need in a community, profession or organization.




President George W. Bush
Founder of the Bush Institute and 43rd President of the United States

President Bill Clinton
Founder of the Clinton Foundation and 42nd President of the United States

David Rubenstein
Renowned financier, philanthropist and host of the David Rubenstein Show


The 2017 class of Presidential Leadership Scholars


About the PLS Program


The Presidential Leadership Scholars (PLS) program is designed for leaders from varied backgrounds who share a commitment to facing society’s greatest challenges. The program seeks participants who have the desire and capacity to take their leadership strengths to a higher level in order to help their communities and emboldens them with the practical skills needed to drive solution-oriented action. By including a roster of presidential centers – two Republican and two Democratic –the program creates a rare opportunity to instill in Scholars a brand of principled leadership that transcends diverse backgrounds. 72 percent of past PLS program graduates say PLS was very or extremely influential in their achievements since graduation.


Through the PLS program curriculum, participants have connected with some of the best minds in the study of leadership and benefited from the assets of the participating presidential centers and insights of the former presidents and people who served with them. In addition to Presidents Clinton and George W. Bush, Scholars also have had the opportunity to hear from select speakers such as former First Lady Laura W. Bush; the Right Honourable Tony Blair; Senator Rob Portman; Governor Terry McAuliffe; former Secretary of Defense Robert Gates; former Secretaries of Commerce Don Evans and Carlos Gutierrez; former Secretary of Labor Alexis Herman; former Secretaries of Health and Human Services Donna Shalala and Sylvia Mathews Burwell; former Secretary of Education Margaret Spellings; former Chiefs of Staff Joshua Bolten, Erskine Bowles, Andrew Card, Mack McLarty, John Podesta, and John Sununu; former Counselor to the President Larry Temple; and more.


During the program, Scholars work on a “Personal Leadership Project,” intended to provide Scholars with the opportunity to both apply the skills and competencies learned throughout the program and help achieve the program’s ultimate desired outcome of increasing social good. Scholars have used their projects to improve our nation’s schools, support transitioning members of the military, bring poverty relief to communities around the globe, and implement practical business solutions to enhance public and private partnerships. Nearly 70 percent of past PLS program graduates say they have achieved the personal leadership goals they set prior to the program or have made substantial progress and almost 50 percent have advanced in their profession taking on a role with more responsibility.