The precious gift of the Presidential Leadership Scholars

2024 Presidential Leadership Scholars Module One recap

“The precious gift of this program is the connections you’re going to make,” former Education Secretary Margaret Spellings said to the 60 changemakers who represent the PLS Class of 2024 just one day after they joined together in Washington, D.C., for the first time.  

Spellings, the current President and CEO of the Bipartisan Policy Center and former President and CEO of the George W. Bush Presidential Center, is one of the founders of the Presidential Leadership Scholars program. She was among the first to welcome the new class into the program, along with two other PLS co-founders, Stephanie Street, Executive Director of the Clinton Foundation, and Holly Kuzmich, Managing Director of the Draper Richards Kaplan Foundation and former Executive Director of the George W. Bush Institute.  

The first module of every program year focuses on allowing Scholars to begin building meaningful relationships with each other while also previewing the PLS approach to leadership. And over the course of the program, participants will take a deep dive into four leadership pillars – vision and communication, decision making, influence and persuasion, and strategic partnerships – and hear from incredible guest speakers.  

The kick-off module was no exception. Scholars had the privilege of learning from PLS faculty members Michael O’Leary, Nicole Bibbins Sedaca, and Keith Hennessey. O’Leary taught on reflection as a leadership practice and how to lead high-performing teams, Bibbins Sedaca facilitated a session on identity in leadership, and Hennessey discussed perspective taking with the Scholars.  

Former U.S. Secretary of Labor Alexis Herman also joined the Scholars for an inspiring conversation on her trailblazing leadership journey and the lessons she learned along the way.  

“I’ve learned over the years that it’s not so much about the particular risk you take, it’s about getting into the habit of taking risks – because things don’t move and change unless you develop that skill set,” Herman said.  

Scholars toured the White House, the U.S. National Archives, and the Decatur House slave quarters during the convening. 2018 Presidential Leadership Scholar Tynesia Boyea-Robinson and her classmates took action to document and memorialize the history of enslaved people at the Decatur House after their tour in 2018. This history of the property was – at the time – completely absent from the tour. This year, Boyea-Robinson joined the Scholars for an important conversation on identifying the need for this change and how her PLS class rallied around the project.  

View photos from Module One in Washington, D.C. here. 

The 2024 Presidential Leadership Scholars will travel next to Little Rock, Arkansas, to visit the Clinton Presidential Center later this month. They’ll explore vision and communication through the lens of President Bill Clinton’s leadership and continue to experience the precious gift of PLS.