Next week, the Bush Center (in partnership with the Presidential Centers of William J. Clinton, George H.W. Bush, and Lyndon B. Johnson) will launch its third class of Presidential Leadership Scholars. We’re proud of the diverse group of exceptional, civic-minded, mid-career professionals that were accepted this year.
When we started this leadership program nearly three years ago, little did we know the divisive political times we’d find at the start of this class. Over the past several years, we’ve seen intense racial division and protests, an economy that many believe has left behind entire segments of the population, and an ever-increasing role for government that many find troubling. This year, we’ll be starting this program -- which aims to develop leadership skills through presidential case studies -- with an intense discussion and debate on leadership occurring across the country.
One task we have is to remind the 60 new Scholars in the program of the words of President George W. Bush from his Second Inaugural Address in 2005:
“Today, we affirm a new commitment to live out our nation's promise through civility, courage, compassion and character.
“America, at its best, matches a commitment to principle with a concern for civility. A civil society demands from each of us good will and respect, fair dealing and forgiveness.
“Some seem to believe that our politics can afford to be petty because, in a time of peace, the stakes of our debates appear small.
“But the stakes for America are never small. If our country does not lead the cause of freedom, it will not be led. If we do not turn the hearts of children toward knowledge and character, we will lose their gifts and undermine their idealism. If we permit our economy to drift and decline, the vulnerable will suffer most.
“We must live up to the calling we share. Civility is not a tactic or a sentiment. It is the determined choice of trust over cynicism, of community over chaos. And this commitment, if we keep it, is a way to shared accomplishment.”
Our hope through this program is that civility guides our debates as we face the complicated challenges of today. At the same time, may our commitment to freedom still lead the world toward open societies that reward private markets, protect the weak, and respect the dignity and the rights of all.
Holly Kuzmich serves as Executive Director of the George W. Bush Institute and Senior Vice President at the George W. Bush Presidential Center. She oversees the strategy and management of the Bush Institute, an action-oriented policy organization that cultivates leaders, fosters policies to solve today’s most pressing challenges, and takes action to save and change lives. Specific areas of focus within the Institute include education reform, economic growth, human freedom and democracy, global health, the military service initiative, the women’s initiative, and the Presidential Leadership Scholars program. Holly also serves as a member of the management team of the Bush Center, leading strategic planning and budgeting and board relations.
Previously, she was Vice President and COO of Margaret Spellings & Company, a public policy consulting firm with a specialty in education and workforce issues at the national, state, and local levels. Holly also served as the Assistant Secretary for Legislation and Congressional Affairs and Deputy Chief of Staff at the U.S. Department of Education. In those roles, she served as the main liaison with Congress, the White House, and the Office of Management and Budget on education policy issues including the No Child Left Behind Act and the Higher Education Act and oversaw policy development within the agency.
Holly came to the Department from the White House Domestic Policy Council, where she served as Associate Director for Education. Prior to that, she spent five years working in the U.S. Senate on domestic policy issues.
A native of South Bend, Indiana, she received her bachelor's degree from Northwestern University.Full Bio
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