The scholars met with high-ranking officials from the Bush administration, including former Treasury Secretary and Goldman Sachs CEO Hank Paulson, and former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice. The group also dined with former President George W. Bush and former first lady Laura Bush.
Margaret Spellings, president of the George W. Bush Presidential Center, said the collaboration made perfect sense.
"When I got here a year and a half ago," Spellings said, "I was surprised to learn that the presidential libraries hadn't partnered much, because we have—with the creation of this one—four presidential centers less than a day's drive from one another."
Spellings, who was secretary of education from 2005 to 2009, said the difference between this leadership program and others is the access to leaders from several White House administrations—and in particular the direct participation of Bush and former President Bill Clinton. "It just made sense to use these presidencies as illustrations in leadership and help nurture the next generation of leaders."
The Presidential Leadership Scholars series began in February 2015, when the scholars convened at George Washington's Mount Vernon to discuss the presidency, executive decision-making, and key decisions made by the first president. After that, events began rotating to a different presidential library each month through June.
The scholars, selected from more than nine hundred applicants, were chosen because of their desire and capacity to take their leadership strengths to a higher level in order to help their communities and our country. The first cohort of sixty Presidential Leadership Scholars includes individuals from diverse backgrounds and geographies, coming from a variety of sectors, including private, public, nonprofit, military, and academia. Each scholar was selected for his or her leadership growth potential.