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  • George W. Bush Institute

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  • 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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Bono, co-founder of ONE and (RED), was awarded the inaugural George W. Bush Medal for Distinguished Leadership for his humanitarian contributions in the area of poverty and preventable disease, particularly among the world’s most vulnerable populations.

Engagement Agenda: A Look Back at 2018

December 21, 2018 by Ioanna Papas, William McKenzie
As we look back on 2018, we celebrate some of the top moments at the Bush Center.

Forum on Leadership 

Closing Conversation with Jeff Bezos, Co-Presented with SMU

April 2018 saw the Bush Institute kick off its inaugural Forum on Leadership. The three-day event, hosted by President and Mrs. Bush, convened prominent thought leaders, innovators, and newsmakers to celebrate leadership. The Forum featured luminaries such as Vice President Dick Cheney, Bono, Jeff Bezos, Dr. Condoleezza Rice, Ben Bernanke, John Boehner, Dr. Priscilla Chan, Arthur Brooks, Hank Paulson, Gov. John Hickenlooper, and General Peter Pace, USMC (Ret.). 

At the event, President and Mrs. Bush recognized three outstanding leaders. Jan Pruitt, former President and CEO of North Texas Food Bank, posthumously received the George W. Bush Institute Trailblazer Citation; Blayne Smith, President of GORUCK, received the George W. Bush Institute Military Service Citation; and Bono was honored with the George W. Bush Medal for Distinguished Leadership for his work fighting poverty and disease. 

The Bush Center also launched a capital campaign, A Charge To Keep, that guarantees the vibrancy and impact of the Bush Center’s work will carry forth for generations to come. A Charge to Keep is the name of one of President Bush's favorite hymns, and the name of a painting he proudly displayed in the Oval Office. Both are reminders of the call to serve a cause greater than self. The Charge to Keep campaign endows the work being done at the George W. Bush Institute through three Impact Centers — Domestic Excellence, Global Leadership, and an Engagement Agenda — to develop leaders, advance policy, and take action to solve today's most pressing challenges. 

Watch the engaging panels and interviews from the Forum's Live Desk 

The Catalyst 

In 2018, The Catalyst pursued its mission of being a journal of ideas by publishing authors, experts, and leaders who tackled a host of topical and difficult issues. Along with President Bush and Bush Institute policy directors, the digital pages of our non-partisan quarterly featured such contributors as Senator Ben Sasse, the American Enterprise Institute’s Arthur Brooks, The Atlantic's James Fallows, and economists Pia Orrennius, Klaus Desmet, and Abby McCloskey. They addressed modernizing our immigration system, disruptive challenges like artificial intelligence, strengthening our democracy through local communities, and expanding America’s middle class. 

The Catalyst also launched a series of editions exploring what compassionate conservatism means today. Look for more on that front in 2019. 

Along the way, we grew our readership this year by more than 50 percent, placed Catalyst pieces in 85 other publications, and earned a finalist award from Editor & Publisher for best digital magazine with readership under one million page views a month. We have far to go in fulfilling our mission as a journal of ideas, but we were honored to have our readers join us, and send letters-to-the-editor from across the globe and the United States. 

Engage at the Bush Center, presented by Highland Capital Management 

"Remembering Barbara Bush" at Engage at the Bush Center, presented by Highland Capital Management, was held on September 24, 2018. The two-part event celebrated the life and legacy of Mrs. Bush. Moderated by Cokie Roberts, the panels included Barbara Bush, Jenna Bush Hager, Pierce Bush, Jeb Bush, Jr., Ellie LeBlond Sosa, Andy Card, Susan Baker, and Susan Page.

This year’s sold-out Engage at the Bush Center, presented by Highland Capital Management series delivered thought-provoking and entertaining conversations from newsmakers and big thinkers. In September, audiences celebrated and remembered Mrs. Barbara Bush with panel experts discussing her powerful legacy as first lady and reflections from several of her loving grandchildren.

To celebrate the 15th anniversary of the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) and the millions of lives saved, Barbara Bush, co-founder of Global Health Corps, moderated two discussions on the impact and future of global health. The event also included an announcement by President Bush about a new partnership between the Bush Institute, PEPFAR, and UNAIDS to help end cervical cancer deaths among HIV-positive women in sub-Saharan Africa.

In June, audiences explored what made Prime Minister Winston Churchill an effective leader and had an opportunity to look at a number of his paintings. President Bush, another world leader-turned-artist, delivered opening remarks and unveiled his own portrait of Churchill.

As part of our Transformations and Foundations series, Bush Center CEO Ken Hersh moderated the Highland Capital Lecture, a lively conversation on the disruptive nature of technology on the global economy and our established institutions. Jim Dondero, co-founder and president of Highland Capital Management – the presenting sponsor of Engage at the Bush Center – shared opening remarks. 

The inaugural class of the Bush Institute’s Stand-To Veteran Leadership Program took part in the Boeing Lecture with retired U.S. Navy Admiral William McRaven and Fox News Channel’s Harris Faulkner as part of the Engage at the Bush Center, presented by Highland Capital Management series. The discussion focused on the issues facing today’s military leaders and the keys to effective leadership.


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
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 participates in the Bush Institute’s school accountability project. And he teaches as an adjunct journalism lecturer at SMU, where he teaches a course on media and politics.

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.

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

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2018: The Year in Photos on December 20, 2018