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Next week, the Bush Center (in partnership with the Presidential Centers of William J. Clinton, George H.W. Bush, and Lyndon B. Johnson) will launch its third class of Presidential Leadership Scholars. We’re proud of the diverse group of exceptional, civic-minded, mid-career professionals that were accepted this year.
When we started this leadership program nearly three years ago, little did we know the divisive political times we’d find at the start of this class. Over the past several years, we’ve seen intense racial division and protests, an economy that many believe has left behind entire segments of the population, and an ever-increasing role for government that many find troubling. This year, we’ll be starting this program -- which aims to develop leadership skills through presidential case studies -- with an intense discussion and debate on leadership occurring across the country.
One task we have is to remind the 60 new Scholars in the program of the words of President George W. Bush from his Second Inaugural Address in 2005:
“Today, we affirm a new commitment to live out our nation's promise through civility, courage, compassion and character.
“America, at its best, matches a commitment to principle with a concern for civility. A civil society demands from each of us good will and respect, fair dealing and forgiveness.
“Some seem to believe that our politics can afford to be petty because, in a time of peace, the stakes of our debates appear small.
“But the stakes for America are never small. If our country does not lead the cause of freedom, it will not be led. If we do not turn the hearts of children toward knowledge and character, we will lose their gifts and undermine their idealism. If we permit our economy to drift and decline, the vulnerable will suffer most.
“We must live up to the calling we share. Civility is not a tactic or a sentiment. It is the determined choice of trust over cynicism, of community over chaos. And this commitment, if we keep it, is a way to shared accomplishment.”
Our hope through this program is that civility guides our debates as we face the complicated challenges of today. At the same time, may our commitment to freedom still lead the world toward open societies that reward private markets, protect the weak, and respect the dignity and the rights of all.
Holly Kuzmich serves as Executive Director of the George W. Bush Institute. She oversees the strategy and management of the Institute, an action-oriented policy organization that develops leaders, advances policy, and takes action to solve today’s most pressing challenges. The Institute’s work focuses on education reform, military service, economic growth, human freedom and democracy, global health, and women’s empowerment. Holly also oversees the Presidential Leadership Scholars program, a unique leadership development program in collaboration with the Clinton Foundation, George H.W. Bush Foundation, and Lyndon Baines Johnson Foundation. In addition to her role in the Institute, she also serves in a management role as Senior Vice President of the Bush Center.
Holly has over 20 years of public policy experience, serving in senior positions in the government, private, and non-profit sectors. She is a veteran of the White House, the U.S. Department of Education, and Capitol Hill, where she developed her expertise in education policy. She served in President Bush’s Administration for seven years, first on the staff of the White House Domestic Policy Council and then as Deputy Chief of Staff and Assistant Secretary for Legislation and Congressional Affairs at the U.S. Department of Education. Prior to that, she worked for two United States Senators on domestic policy issues. She has also consulted on education and workforce issues with major foundations, companies, non-profits, and policymakers.
Holly is a Pahara-Aspen Institute Fellow and a member of the Texas Lyceum. A native of South Bend, Indiana, she received her Bachelor's degree from Northwestern University.Full Bio
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