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  • George W. Bush Institute

    Our Ideas

  • Through our three Impact Centers — Domestic Excellence, Global Leadership, and our Engagement Agenda — we focus on developing leaders, advancing policy, and taking action to solve today’s most pressing challenges.

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In November, the Bush Institute hosted “Sisters First: A Conversation with Barbara Bush & Jenna Bush Hager”

Engagement Agenda: A Look Back At 2017

December 21, 2017 3 minute Read by William McKenzie, Ioanna Papas
As we celebrate 2017, we reflect on some of the top moments from the George W. Bush Presidential Center’s Engagement Agenda, home to the Engage series and The Catalyst: A Journal of Ideas from the Bush Institute.

This year’s sold-out Engage series delivered thought provoking and entertaining conversations from newsmakers and big thinkers. Guests such as Barbara Bush and Jenna Bush Hager, Dr. Condoleezza Rice, actor Christopher Jackson from Hamilton, and veterans featured in President George W. Bush’s Portraits of Courage connected with audiences and explored many of today’s most pressing issues.  

Learn more about our Engage series and see in-depth highlights from each event

The goal of The Catalyst: A Journal of Ideas from the Bush Institute is to tackle challenges that are relevant to our lives.

The goal of The Catalyst: A Journal of Ideas from the Bush Institute is to tackle challenges that are relevant to our lives.

The digital quarterly led off 2017 commenting on the beginning of a new administration. The What Happens Now? edition featured essays and interviews with the likes of American Enterprise Institute President Arthur Brooks, Sen. Rob Portman (R-Ohio), former White House Press Secretary Mike McCurry, and popular conservative blogger Rod Dreher. We obviously live in a contentious era, but as Brooks put it: We should not be bashful about smart, strong disagreements about which public policies are the best instruments for helping more people access freedom, prosperity, and the pursuit of their happiness.”

We followed with our spring edition, The Modern Military, which examined the military America needs and how the nation can provide and sustain that force. Answering those questions were former Defense Secretary Robert Gates, Blue Star Families Chair Sheila Casey, and former U.S. Pacific Fleet Commander Admiral Patrick Walsh.  Joining in were Bush Institute experts Col. Miguel Howe and Col. Matthew Amidon. In Gates’ view, the biggest challenge is “…the range of potential threats and conflicts, and their lethality, that the military prepare for.” 

The summer issue, Africa Tomorrow, focused on the challenges facing the continent and the leaders and forces transforming Africa. Such African leaders as Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf and One’s Nachilala Nkombo joined western leaders such as President and Mrs. Bush and Sir Bob Geldof in presenting their views on a rapidly-changing Africa. As Geldof put it: “To ignore Africa is to ignore 2050.”

We wrapped up 2017 asking whether democracy is in danger here and abroad. We sought views from a range of people, including former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, Brookings Institution scholar William Galston, and Bush Institute President and CEO Ken Hersh. Here’s how Dr. Rice explained the need for democracy: “It’s not a matter of western values; it's not a matter of American values; it's a matter of universal values. People want to control their own futures.”

We look forward to a 2018 filled with provocative essays and lively interviews that lead to the resolution of pressing problems. 


Author

William McKenzie
William McKenzie

William McKenzie is editorial director for the George W. Bush Institute, where he also serves as editor of The Catalyst: A Journal of Ideas from the Bush Institute.

Active in education issues, he co-teaches an education policy class at SMU’s Simmons School of Education and Human Development. He also participates in the Bush Institute’s school accountability project.

Before joining the Bush Institute, the Fort Worth native served 22 years as an editorial columnist for the Dallas Morning News and led the newspaper’s Texas Faith blog. The University of Texas graduate’s columns appeared nationwide and he has won a Pulitzer Prize and commentary awards from the Education Writers Association, the American Academy of Religion, and the Texas Headliners Foundation, among other organizations. He still contributes columns and essays for the Morning News and The Weekly Standard.

Before joining the News in 1991, he earned a master’s degree in political science from the University of Texas at Arlington and spent a dozen years in Washington, D.C. During that time, he edited the Ripon Forum.

McKenzie has served as a Pulitzer Prize juror, on the board of a homeless organization, and on governing committees of a Dallas public school. He also is an elder of the First Presbyterian Church in Dallas, where he lives with his wife and their twin children.

Full Bio
Ioanna Papas
Ioanna Papas

Ioanna Papas is a Senior Manager, Editorial 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