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A Conversation: The Power and Influence of a First Spouse
When used effectively, a first lady’s podium is a catalyst for change. Unelected but official, spouses of state and government leaders have a unique opportunity to build bridges between civil society and government institutions. Both at home and abroad, they have leveraged their influence to champion causes including social and economic inclusion, education and healthcare, peace and security, and women and children’s rights, among many others. Yet, despite this influence, there exists little research on the role of first ladies. The Bush Institute’s First Ladies Initiative aims to change that by expanding the scholarship on spouses of state leaders with A Role Without a Rulebook: The Influence and Leadership of Global First Ladies .
At the 2017 Annual Concordia Summit Mrs. Laura Bush had a conversation with the First Lady of Namibia Monica Geingos and First Lady of Panama Lorena Castillo García de Varela about the role of first spouses, the value of women’s leadership, and how first spouses can be prominent voices for change around the world. Executive Director of UNAIDS Michel Sidibé led the conversation. Below are some key quotes highlighting how the leadership of first ladies can and does make an impact.
Watch the conversation here. To learn more about the leadership potential of the first lady role, the common and uncommon challenges women face in realizing that potential, and how first ladies overcome those challenges to effect change read A Role Without a Rulebook: The Influence and Leadership of Global First Ladies.
Ioanna Papas is an Editorial Manager for the George W. Bush Presidential Center.
Before joining the Bush Institute Ioanna worked at Golin and strategically supported her client, Texas Instruments, in making a move from traditional public relations to content marketing with a focus on social media influencers. Prior to joining Golin, she provided support and expertise for a number of clients including Dish Network, UT Southwestern, Sabre Technologies, HOLT CAT, Hillwood and Benefitfocus. In these roles, she assisted in media relations, external campaign development and execution, and provided writing, editing and strategic implementation support.
Ioanna graduated from Texas Tech University with a degree in online journalism. After completing multiple internships, one resulting in an article published in the New York Times and winning the Investigative Reporters and Editors student award for investigative reporting, she pursued a journalism career in Beaumont, Texas.Full Bio
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ICYMI: Mrs. Bush Gives Media Preview at First Ladies: Style of Influence Exhibit
On February 28, Mrs. Bush gave media a preview tour of the new Bush Center exhibit, First Ladies: Style of Influence, before it officially opened to the public. The exhibit, based on Bush Institute research report A Role Without a Rulebook, guides visitors through the overlapping modalities through which first ladies exert influence as hostesses, teammates, champions, and policy advocates. Mrs. Bush discussed with media how September 11 instilled a calling to advocate for Afghan women and children; how she learned valuable lessons from her mother-in-law, Mrs. Barbara Bush; and how first ladies have made a significant impact throughout our country’s history, among other topics. Mrs. Bush first spoke with Fox News Channel’s Casey Stegall. Read the full story: New exhibit at Bush Center examining role of first ladies. Mrs. Bush then spoke with NBC5’s Meredith Land. Read the full story: The Bush Center Looks at First Ladies Through the Years. La