George W. Bush Presidential Center Annual Report 2015

Thank you for your commitment and dedication to the George W. Bush Presidential Center. Your support enables us to engage in communities around the world by cultivating leaders and advancing policies to solve today’s most pressing challenges.

Laura and George Bush

Dear Friends, It’s exciting to write to you as the new President and CEO of the George W. Bush Presidential Center. Since its inception, I have been actively engaged and invested in the important work of the Bush Institute, and a frequent visitor to the Dallas treasure, the George W. Bush Presidential Library and Museum. I’m proud to have been selected by President and Mrs. Bush and the board to lead this important organization, and grateful to Secretary Margaret Spellings. She made a profound impact over the past three years and I am humbled to succeed her.

The Bush Center is a young institution that has already accomplished impressive results through an impactful mission: Engaging remote com- munities in the United States and around the world by developing leaders, advancing policy, and taking action to solve today’s most pressing challenges.

Our mission is one everyone can support, no matter your background or political af liation. President Bush said it best at Whitehall Palace in 2003: “We believe in open societies ordered by moral conviction. We believe in private markets, humanized by compassionate government. We believe in economies that reward effort, communities that protect the weak, and the duty of nations to respect the dignity and the rights of all.”

With those principles as our inspiration, the Bush Center accomplishes its mission through its three Impact Centers: Domestic Excellence, Global Leadership, and our Engagement Agenda.

The following recaps the highlights of our very busy and productive year.


Domestic excellence

  • Launched the Veteran Employment Transition (VET) Roadmap, which is being used by military and veterans organizations nationwide to assist thousands of post-9/11 veterans as they transition from military to civilian life.
  • Advocated for free market policies that strengthen our North American economy through the launch of our North American Scorecard, a comprehensive measurement of competitiveness.
  • Partnered with nationally recognized nonprofits, universities, and experts to transform how school districts attract and retain effective principals in an effort to ensure that every American child graduates from high school prepared for college or a good job.
  • Graduated the first class of Presidential Leadership Scholars, a unique partnership between the Bush Center and the presidential centers of Presidents George H.W. Bush, Lyndon B. Johnson, and William J. Clinton that develops leaders from diverse backgrounds who are committed to harnessing inspiration and knowledge to transform their communities.

global leadership

  • Highlighted ideas, innovations, and partnerships that improve the lives of women and girls globally, including our Women’s Initiative Fellowship, which develops female leaders in the Middle East and North Africa.
  • Hosted freedom advocates, including His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama, to expose more people to the importance of advocating for free societies around the world.
  • Equipped young leaders from Burma with the knowledge and skills they need to lead in a country where a transformation to democracy is occurring.
  • Screened more than 200,000 women in Africa against cervical and breast cancer through our Pink Ribbon Red Ribbon affiliate.
stars on blue background

engagement agenda

  • Hosted 250,000 visitors to the world-class Bush Presidential Library and Museum. Our guests experienced history through interactive exhibits and through the eyes of the 43rd President of the United States.
  • Launched our Engage program, a public event series that brings informative and entertaining speakers and ideas to the Bush Center.

And that’s just the beginning. There is tremendous momentum to capitalize on, and I am energized by the opportunities ahead.

So if you believe, as I do, that this consequential work is critical for our Nation and our world, my request of you is simple. Join us and follow us on social media and share our news, become a Bush Center member, attend one of our many public Engage events, become a regular subscriber to The Catalyst: A Journal of Ideas from the Bush Institute, bring your friends and family to experience the museum, dine with us at Café 43, explore our Native Texas Park, or consider financial support to sustain the work ahead.

We look forward to continuing the work started by President and Mrs. Bush while they were in public service and undertaking new work inspired by them.

It is an honor to be a part of this great organization as we boldly pursue our mission here at home and around the world.

All the best,

Kenneth Hersh

Liberty and Leadership

“We believe in open societies ordered by moral conviction. We believe in private markets, humanized by compassionate government…”

- President George W. Bush

Presidential Leadership Scholars

PLS Scholar, Daron Roberts at a Presidential Leadership Scholar session in Dallas.

Video Thumbnail

i-dropcapmagine getting the chance to engage with and learn from former presidents. What an invaluable experience – leaders of our Nation bestowing their wisdom to champions of positive change in our communities, country, and the world.

To face society’s greatest challenges with action, the presidential centers of George W. Bush, William J. Clinton, George H.W. Bush, and Lyndon B. Johnson partnered to create the Presidential Leadership Scholars program. Led by the best minds in leadership studies, this executive-style education program sharpens participants’ skills through an unprecedented interactive exploration of effective leadership principles.

The first class of 60 Scholars gathered in February at George Washington’s Mount Vernon for the program’s Opening Session. Over the course of several months, the Scholars traveled to each participating presidential center and learned from former presidents, key administration officials, and a vibrant network of peers and faculty – all providing priceless insight on how they can make a greater impact in their communities.

During the program, Scholars work on a Personal Leadership Project aimed at improving the civic or social good by addressing a problem or need in a community, profession, or organization. Each project pairs Scholars’ existing knowledge and experience with the skills and competencies learned throughout the program to produce exceptional results.

The inaugural class graduated in July at the Bush Center in Dallas. Scholar Jake Harriman was selected by his peers to introduce both President George W. Bush and President Bill Clinton, who made remarks and congratulated the Scholars. Mark Cuban was also featured during the Moody Foundation conversation at the ceremony and gave Scholars advice on leadership and success in the 21st century.


Through the Presidential Leadership Scholars program, Daron Roberts used his Personal Leadership Project to help create Captains Academy, a joint effort with Austin Independent School District to provide leadership training to high school varsity captains. The training addressed the lack of consistent development programs in the areas of effective communications, human intelligence, and decision making for high school student athletes. Today, AISD and the Center for Sports Leadership and Innovation have signed a memorandum of understanding that will enable participants to undergo three days of training. In queue, the program will include two additional districts.

the inaugural class in 2015

Both Scholars and those they work with on a regular basis saw significant improvements in the Scholars’ understanding and implementation of essential leadership skills across the four key dimensions of vision and communication, decision making, influence and persuasion, and coalition building.


All 60 participants strongly recommend the program to others; the program’s net promoter score is an unparalleled 100.


Eighty percent of Scholars reported significant growth in their belief in what they can accomplish as leaders for social change.


Eighty-six percent of Scholars were significantly more inspired to achieve more in improving society.


Eighty-five percent of Scholars said their leadership abilities had grown significantly.

Global Women's Network

t-dropcaphe Bush Center envisions a world where all children have access to education, women are living healthy, vibrant lives, and the economic life of countries is spurred by the active inclusion of women.

The 2015 Global Women’s Network spotlighted ideas, innovations, and partnerships that are making this dream a reality. Partnering with tech industry pioneers Facebook and Google, the event brought together 250 guests from 20 countries, including First Ladies, private and public sector leaders, and the next generation of innovators, to showcase effective solutions to improve the lives of women and girls globally.

The Summit was filled with engaging conversation on the undeniable impact women have on their communities. First Lady Michelle Obama joined Mrs. Laura Bush via videoconference for a conversation about the unique platform of First Ladies to make a difference. President George W. Bush announced that Pink Ribbon Red Ribbon, a partnership to catalyze the global community to reduce deaths from cervical and breast cancer, would become an independent 501(c)(3) organization. Panel discussions throughout the day focused on proven interventions and investments in women that lead to greater stability and prosperity in countries around the world.

Onaba Payab

The Global Women’s Network opened with a fascinating conversation between Mrs. Bush and Mrs. Obama, moderated by an impressive young Afghan woman named Onaba Payab.

Onaba, the valedictorian of her 2014 class at the American University of Afghanistan, is a living testament to both the progress of women and success of education in post-9/11 Afghanistan. Now pursuing a master’s degree in public health, Onaba works tirelessly to promote education and economic rights for all women in her country. At the event, Onaba shared her thoughts about the progress Afghan women have made, the struggles they still face, and what she hopes will be a bright future for all women in her country.

“When I meet young Afghan women like Onaba, I am struck by their courage, their resilience, and their hope for a better future.”

– Mrs. Laura Bush

Liberty and Leadership Forum members visited Washington, DC to learn more about the American democracy.

a-dropcapt the inaugural Liberty and Leadership Forum graduation in May 2015, two chairs stood noticeably empty. Phyoe Phyoe Aung, a member of the program, was imprisoned in her home country of Burma (Myanmar). Her husband, Lin Htet Naing, also a Forum participant, was in hiding from police. Their crime? Peacefully advocating for education reform. Upon hearing the news, President and Mrs. Bush issued a statement citing concerns about their arrest and well-being.

Lin Htet Naing was later arrested and charged, and Phyoe Phyoe spent just over 12 months in prison. In November 2015, the citizens of Burma voted overwhelmingly to end decades of oppressive military rule. Roughly four months later, approximately 200 prisoners of conscience were freed, including Phyoe Phyoe Aung and Lin Htet Naing.

Today, Phyoe Phyoe Aung and Lin Htet Naing dream of living under a thriving democracy. When asked about their time in prison and what the conditions were like, both detailed sickness due to unclean water.

What got them through the darkest hours of prison? Phyoe Phyoe Aung and Lin Htet Naing say their fellow Forum participants were very supportive as they visited with news of the outside world. During one such visit, Phyoe Phyoe received a letter from President and Mrs. Bush. “When I read the letter I felt overwhelming happiness,” remarked Phyoe Phyoe. “Their words of encouragement meant that we were not forgotten. It showed that I mattered and the world knew about our suffering.”

The Bush Institute’s Liberty and Leadership Forum is an innovative, yearlong educational and training program that equips young leaders with the knowledge and skills they need to succeed during a democratic transition. The goals of the 115-hour program are to foster democratic currents, cultivate networks of individuals unified around a common vision, and prepare men and women for increased leadership in countries where transitions to freedom are gaining momentum.


Year in

2015 Highlights


Special Exhibits


Mar 21 – Oct 4

Baseball: America’s Presidents, America’s Pastime

Baseball: America’s Presidents, America’s Pastime, explored American history through the close relationship between baseball and our Nation’s Presidents.

The exhibit used baseball-related documents and artifacts from its archives as well as from other presidential libraries, and also drew from the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum in Cooperstown, New York, and other collections.

Texas Ranger Ring
Red Sox Jersey
Baseball, America's Presidents, America's Pastime

“Baseball isn’t just the stats. As much as anything else, baseball is the style of Willie Mays, or the determination of Hank Aaron, or the endurance of a Mickey Mantle, the discipline of Carl Yastrzemski, the drive of Eddie Mathews, the reliability of a Kaline or a Morgan, the grace of a DiMaggio, the kindness of a Harmon Killebrew, and the class of Stan Musial, the courage of a Jackie Robinson, or the heroism of Lou Gehrig. My hope for the game is that these qualities will never be lost.”

- President George W. Bush

Nov – Jan 3

Holidays at the Bush Center 2015

A Season of Stories: Christmas at the White House 2003 was the third in an annual series, which follows chronologically each year and gives visitors a glimpse of original White House decorations and behind-the-scenes photographs and video from the archives of the Bush Administration.

To accompany the special exhibit, the Bush Center hosted a number of holiday programs, including weekly choir performances in Freedom Hall, an Engage conversation with former White House social secretaries and a pastry chef, children’s craft workshops, a theatrical performance of The Billy Goats Gruff by the Dallas Children’s Opera, and the second annual “Deck the Halls” Black Friday event.

“Just like the holidays, great stories have a way of bringing families together.”

- Mrs. Laura Bush

Christmas at the White House
Santa Claus
Presidential Center Tree Ornament

Bush Institute


The Bush Center and SMU welcomed His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama to Dallas on July 1, 2015, for “A Conversation with the Dalai Lama.”

The renowned spiritual leader of Tibet and Nobel laureate spoke to a sold-out crowd about his philosophy of compassion in a conversation with Cokie Roberts at SMU’s Moody Coliseum. The event was hosted by the Bush Center and SMU in conjunction with the World Affairs Council of Dallas/Fort Worth.

A Conversation with the Dalai Lama.


The Military Service Initiative (MSI) of the Bush Institute honors the service and sacrifice of all post-9/11 veterans by fostering a successful transition and reintegration from military service to civilian life – helping to improve their quality of life and maximize their leadership potential.

The Bush Insitute hosts two Team 43 Sports events: the Warrior 100K, a high-endurance three-day bike ride; and the Warrior Open, a highly competitive Pro-Am golf tournament. Team 43 Sports is the ultimate testament to the courage, commitment, and resilience of these warriors. These events highlight the importance of sports as part of the rehabilitation process for those injured on the front line and show that, in spite of severe injury and trauma, these men and women have found new ways to use their minds and bodies to achieve and surpass great goals.

Employment Roadmap

An estimated 200,000 post-9/11 veterans are unemployed, and more than one million service members and their spouses will transition from the military over the next five years. Gaining employment is a critical element of a successful transition but can be challenging for veterans under 25, those without a four-year degree, minorities, women, and veterans with a non-directly transferable technical skill set (i.e., combat arms).

To address this issue, the Bush Institute’s Military Service Initiative partnered with Deloitte and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s Hiring Our Heroes (HOH) initiative to release the Veteran Employment Transition (VET) Roadmap. The VET Roadmap presents chronological steps for veterans as they transition to post-military careers and provides reputable resources and services available to them. Similarly, the VET Roadmap can be helpful to employers seeking to establish veteran and military-friendly hiring programs. Through 2016, the Bush Institute will promote the adoption of the VET Roadmap as well as make it available in a digital tool to allow veterans to easily access the roadmap and prepare for their transition.

Image of North America Scorecard

North America Scorecard

The Bush Institute’s Economic Growth Initiative is developing a North America Policy Agenda for Global Competitiveness designed to enhance the competitive position of North America. One of the Policy Agenda’s major components is the North America Competitiveness Scorecard.

Numerous organizations have analyzed the macro- and microeconomic variables that shape a country’s competitiveness. The Bush Institute’s North America Scorecard takes these indices and combines them into a single score for each country and benchmarks the North American group against other major trading groups or countries. The result highlights areas – fiscal sustainability, indebtedness, enforceability of contracts, transparency of regulation, institutional integrity – where policy reforms in Canada, Mexico, or the U.S. could make the North American partnership still more competitive and able to innovate, attract investment, create jobs, and grow.

The scorecard represents a significant body of scholarship as to how to measure the openness, freedom, and competitiveness of an economy. Moreover, studies suggest that these three elements interact in producing sustained prosperity over time.

Laura Bush Foundation

Mrs. Bush visited Blackshear Elementary Fine Arts Academy in Austin to announce the 2015 library grants from The Laura Bush Foundation for America’s Libraries. She was proud to report that more than $875,000 was distributed to 131 school libraries across the country.

The Laura Bush Foundation for America’s Libraries encourages students to develop a love of reading and learning. By providing funds to our Nation’s neediest schools, the Foundation has helped libraries extend, update, and diversify their book and print collections.

Since its founding in 2002, the Laura Bush Foundation for America’s Libraries has awarded more than $12.5 million in grants to nearly 2,500 schools in all 50 states, as well as the District of Columbia, and some U.S. territories and military bases. Funds have helped purchase approximately 715,000 books and other reading materials for school libraries.

The Laura Bush Foundation for America's Libraries

“Once a child learns to use a library, the doors to learning are always open. That is why the Laura Bush Foundation for America’s Libraries provides funds to some of our Nation’s neediest school libraries to add to and update their book and media collections.”

- Mrs. Laura Bush


Engage public programming series

The Engage public programming series launched in 2015 and brings authors, thought leaders, and innovators to the Bush Center.

Programming includes conversations with authors and luminaries, film screenings, previews of the George W. Bush Presidential Library and Museum’s special exhibits, and exclusive social events.

A few of the year’s highlights were: Sneak Peek: ESPN’s 30 for 30: First Pitch; Author Event with Karl Rove; and a discussion with Jon Meacham, author of Destiny and Power: The American Odyssey of George Herbert Walker Bush.

43 Club

the President speaking
43 club members
43 club members listening to a lecture

the 43 club

The Bush Center is dedicated to cultivating the next generation of leaders. In 2015, the Bush Center introduced the 43 Club, designed to unite young adults aged 21-43 around the values and work of the Bush Center. The 43 Club offers Dallas’s young professionals the opportunity to attend premium events, including thought-provoking lectures, engaging discussions, social gatherings, and networking events.

Guests celebrated the April launch of the 43 Club with an elegant evening in the Bush Center’s beautiful Freedom Hall, where they toured the galleries and heard from special guests President George W. Bush, Mrs. Laura Bush, and Jenna Bush Hager.

In October, the 43 Club enjoyed a starlit soirée in the Native Texas Park. Highlights of the Fall Party included remarks from Jenna Bush Hager and Bush Center President Margaret Spellings, musical entertainment from Jack Ingram, and an assortment of laid-back, barbecue-inspired bites.

“…We believe in economies that reward effort, communities that protect the weak, and the duty of nations to respect the dignity and the rights of all.”

- President George W. Bush

Download Financials

Many thanks to these individuals and organizations that support our work saving and changing lives around the world.

Board of Directors:
Donald L. Evans, Chair
Margaret Spellings, President
Marvin P. Bush, Vice President and Treasurer
Harriet Miers, Secretary
John M. Angelo
Laura Bush
Bill Hickey
Ray L. Hunt
Mark Langdale
Jeanne L. Phillips
Caren Prothro
Craig R. Stapleton
Larry D. Thompson
R. Gerald Turner

Organization name:
7-Eleven, Inc.
Acadian Companies
Allie Beth Allman & Associates
American Airlines Charity Golf
American Cancer Society
Axxess Technology Solutions
Bandon Dunes L.P.
The Bank of America Charitable Foundation, Inc.
Bass Foundation
Bell Helicopter, a Textron Company
Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation
BNSF Railway Foundation
The Boucher Group
Bristol-Myers Squibb Foundation
Bull Creek Management, LLC
Caris Foundation
CDC Foundation
CFP Foundation
Cisco Systems, Inc.
Clayton Williams Energy, Inc.
CME Group Foundation
The Crain Foundation
Deloitte LLP
Dick’s Sporting Goods
Dollar General Literacy Foundation
E.L. and Thelma Gaylord Foundation
Embrey Family Foundation
Emergent BioSolutions
Encore Live, LLC
Energi Insurance Services, Inc.
Esping Family Foundation
ESPN, Inc.
Estee Lauder Corporation
ExxonMobil Corporation
Facebook, Inc.
FedEx Corporation
Fisher House Foundation, Inc.
The Fondren Foundation
Gas Monkey Foundation
GE Africa
Genesco Sports
Gooding & Co.
The Hamill Foundation
Hamon Charitable Foundation
The Harold W. McGraw, Jr. Family Foundation
The Hersh Foundation
Highland Capital Management
Hilton Worldwide, Inc.
The Home Depot Foundation
ICAP North America Inc.
Impala Asset Management
Insurance Industry Charitable Foundation, Inc.
Interstate Batteries, Inc.
JCPenney Company, Inc.
John Templeton Foundation
JPMorgan Chase
Katherine C. Carmody Charitable Trust
KBBO Group
Kickapoo Springs Foundation
La Quinta Inns & Suites
Lakeshore Foundation
Major League Baseball
Marucci Sports, LLC.
Mastercut Tool Corp.
McCormick Foundation
The Miles Foundation
The Moody Foundation
The Morris Foundation
National Breast Cancer Foundation, Inc.
NRG Energy
Oceanic Heritage Foundation
ORIX Foundation
Palantir Technologies, Inc.
Penske Foundation, Inc.
Peter G. Peterson Foundation
Pfizer Inc.
Premier Transportation Services, LLC
The Prudential Foundation
Qiagen Inc.
The Real Estate Council & The Real Estate Council Foundation
The Royal Family of Saudi Arabia
Sage & Dice Foundation
Sammons Enterprises, Inc.
Sewell Automotive Companies
Sid W. Richardson Foundation
Southern Botanical
TaylorMade-Adidas Golf
Thompson & Knight Foundation & Thompson & Knight LLP
Trek Bicycle Corporation
UBS Financial Services, Inc.
Veritex Community Bank
The Vestcor Companies, Inc.
Victory Healthcare
Walmart Foundation
The William Stamps Farish Fund
Zotec Partners