Domestic Excellence: A Look Back at 2018

Learn more about Sarah Gibbons.
Sarah Gibbons
Senior Manager, Communications
George W. Bush Institute

As we look back on 2018, we celebrate some of the top moments from the Bush Institute’s work in domestic excellence.

Economic Growth


The Bush Institute and SMU joined forces to launch the Bush Institute-SMU Economic Growth Initiative. The Initiative combines the existing Economic Growth Initiative of the Bush Institute with the public policy-relevant work of the SMU Department of Economics. The objective is to build the Initiative into a globally respected policy voice on the most pressing economic issues of our time.


CAPP participants hear from President George W. Bush at the Bush Institute in September 2018.


The Economic Growth team also launched the Central America Prosperity Project (CAPP) this year. The Project brings together experienced Central American leaders with the emerging generations of leaders for focused discussions on the efforts the region has made over the past two decades, particularly in the context of the Central America Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA). Ultimately, the group aims to find a path to sustained economic growth for the Northern Triangle. The participants traveled to Dallas to kick off the Project in September where they had the opportunity to hear George W. Bush discuss his administration’s efforts to transform U.S. foreign assistance policy into one focused on opening opportunities rather than promoting dependency.



When our neighbors flourished economically, America flourished economically. How do we keep that spirit alive during a period when the U.S. seems to be drifting towards isolationism and protectionism?

President George W. Bush


School Leadership Initiative district teams work together during a Dallas convening.


Education Reform


The School Leadership Initiative had a successful inaugural year working with four school districts across the country to help them find, support, and retain their best principals. The Initiative hosted district teams in Dallas twice and traveled to each school district during the summer.


As the district teams have started implementing of Principal Talent Management Framework, positive results have been reported. In just six months, district leaders in Fort Worth ISD shared how they improved the talent selection process, made a significant change to a long standing process to hiring principals, and updated the district’s vision statement to highlight the importance of principals. In November President George W. Bush and Mrs. Laura Bush met with the district teams to discuss the importance of leadership in schools.



As a teacher, you have a faculty that you meet with, but in general, you are the only [adult] in the classroom. You need support—and you need principals who are supportive.

Mrs. Laura Bush


The Laura Bush Foundation’s 2017 Disaster Relief Initiative awarded over $2 million of grants to school library collections in Texas and across the nation that were damaged or destroyed in natural disasters like Hurricanes Harvey and Maria in 2017.


Presidential Leadership Scholars


President George W. Bush and President Bill Clinton joined 59 Presidential Leadership Scholars at the Clinton Presidential Center in Little Rock, Arkansas for a conversation centered around the work Scholars are doing to address current issues faced in our nation and around the world. The conversation took place during the graduation ceremony of the 2018 class of Presidential Leadership Scholars – comprised of doctors, veterans, corporate professionals, attorneys, public servants, educators, and more from across the country. This year’s class joined an active network of 180 Scholars who are working to lead lasting and positive change in their communities and across the globe.


Presidents George W. Bush and Bill Clinton participate in the 2018 Presidential Leadership Scholars graduation ceremony in Little Rock, Arkansas.


Military Service Initiative


The Bush Institute Warrior Open at the AT&T Byron Nelson took place in May, immediately following the Salesmanship Club of Dallas’s AT&T Byron Nelson PGA TOUR event at Trinity Forest Golf Club in Dallas. While the Warrior Open began in 2011, 2018 was the first year of the new partnership with the AT&T Byron Nelson. The event brought together 26 warrior competitors, as well as a number of PGA pros, including Rickie Fowler, Jimmy Walker, Ben Crenshaw, and Greg Norman.


President George W. Bush presents an award to the winning team at the 2018 Bush Institute Warrior Open at the AT&T Bryon Nelson.


In June, the inaugural class of the Stand-To Veteran Leadership Program began in Dallas. Thirty-three individuals were selected to participate in the first-of-its-kind program aimed at those serving our nation’s veterans who are motivated to broaden their skillsets, knowledge, and influence across the country.


Throughout the program’s sessions, participants traveled to Dallas, Seattle, and Washington, D.C. and heard from a variety of nationally known and distinguished professionals, educators, and experts including: General Peter Chiarelli, Senator Elizabeth Dole, former U.S. Secretary of Defense Robert Gates, General Stanley McChrystal, former U.S. Secretary of Veterans Affairs Bob McDonald, former U.S. Secretary of Education Margaret Spellings, and U.S. Secretary of Veterans Affairs Robert Wilkie. The program concluded with a graduation session and dinner hosted by President and Mrs. Bush in Dallas in November.


The Warrior Wellness Alliance continued its work in 2018, meeting with partners in Dallas and Chicago to discuss the work of leveraging peer-to-peer networks to connect more veterans to effective clinical care. The Alliance also began its work on an innovative research project, Warriors Connect, to gain insight into how post-9/11 vets talk about the challenges they face, and about the coping strategies, techniques, treatments, and support mechanisms available to them.