Global Leadership: A Look Back at 2018

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

Human Freedom


The Bush Institute partnered with Freedom House and the Penn Biden Center for Diplomacy and Global Engagement to survey Americans on their beliefs about democracy today and the extent to which they feel the United States should support democracy and human rights abroad. The results of The Democracy Project, released in June, revealed that Americans are committed to democracy and feel we have a moral obligation to help in places where human rights abuses are occurring, but many also fear our democracy is weakening.


Liberty and Leadership Scholars visited the Museum of Korean Contemporary History in Seoul and learned about South Korea’s transition from a dictatorship to democracy.


Our Freedom in North Korea program awarded its second class of North Korea Freedom Scholarships to North Korean refugees building new lives in the United States. And as our country began high level negotiations on North Korea’s security threats, experts Lindsay Lloyd and Jieun Pyun joined scholarship recipients in speaking out on the importance of prioritizing the rights of the North Korean people.


The Liberty and Leadership Program, the Bush Institute’s training program that equips young democracy advocates from Burma with the skills to succeed during a transition to freedom, took a select group of alumni to Seoul this September to learn about South Korea’s democratization and economic growth. Learn more about their trip: Diaries from Seoul


Women’s Initiative


First Ladies: Style of Influence was open to the public March 1 – October 1.


The First Ladies Initiative brought its 2017 report, A Role Without a Rulebook, to life in the Bush Center’s special exhibit, First Ladies: Style of Influence. The exhibit highlighted every first lady in U.S. history and featured artifacts spanning more than 200 years in the White House to explore how first ladies have served as hostesses, teammates, champions, and policy advocates. In addition, Deputy Director Natalie Gonnella-Platts hosted the Bush Institute’s inaugural podcast, Ladies, First, which takes an informative and entertaining look at our first ladies’ legacies and leadership and was a finalist in the People’s Choice podcast awards.


Meanwhile, in October, the Women’s Initiative welcomed its first class of WE Lead Scholars for a 2.5-week stay in Dallas. This new iteration of the Women’s Initiative Fellowship brought together 19 women from Afghanistan, Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, and Tunisia for a program that seeks to empower and equip them to become more effective leaders and to advance economic opportunity in their communities and countries. The scholars will return to the U.S. in March for continued training and to graduate from the program. Meet the WE Lead scholars


Global Health


This year, the Bush Institute’s Global Health Initiative formed a partnership with The U.S. President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) and UNAIDS – the Partnership to End AIDS and Cervical Cancer – to coordinate action to save women’s lives from cervical cancer in Sub-Saharan Africa. While PEPFAR has saved millions of lives from HIV/AIDS, women living with HIV are still five times more likely to develop cervical cancer – a preventable and treatable disease, which prompted the need for action. And we have celebrated the 15th anniversary of PEPFAR with content throughout the year, culminating in PEPFAR: AN ORAL HISTORY – How a “Dream Big” Global Health Partnership is Saving the Lives of Millions.








media highlights:


    • Dallas Morning News: Freedom scholarships for defectors speak volumes against North Korean tyranny


    • Glamour: First Lady Melania Trump Goes Solo in Africa. But What’s She Actually Up To?


    • KERA THINK: Does Democracy Still Work? Americans Weigh In


    • KERA THINK: From Martha To Melania: A History Of First Ladies


    • Vanity Fair: Everything Has a Podcast These Days, So Why Not First Ladies?


    • The Washington Post: A poll commissioned by Bush and Biden shows Americans losing confidence in democracy


    • WFAA: North Korea ‘one of the worst places on earth’ for human rights, Dallas expert says