Our Program

Presidential Leadership Scholars brings together bold and principled leaders who are committed to facing critical challenges, both at home and around the world, and who are interested in exploring lessons learned during the administrations of George W. Bush, Bill Clinton, George H.W. Bush, and Lyndon B. Johnson. 

Each year, a diverse group of mid-career professionals begin a journey to hone their leadership abilities through interactions with former presidents, key administration officials, leading academics, and business and civic leaders.

Scholars put their learning into action through a personal leadership project, intended to solve a problem or pressing issue in their community, country, or the world. They gain the skills necessary to work across divides and develop a network that spans traditional geographic, professional, political, and economic boundaries. PLS challenges pre-existing perceptions and inspires the Scholars to lead lasting, positive change.

Program Features

Leadership Methods

Studying evidence-based methods of leadership at each Module in the program.

Presidential Leadership

Reviewing a variety of presidential leadership experiences from each administration that illustrate various aspects of the models and methods.

Distinguished Speakers

Hearing from distinguished speakers, including former presidential administration officials, business leaders, social entrepreneurs, and luminaries from across the country, to discuss different aspects of leadership.

Personal Leadership Project

Working on a project that focuses on a new or existing civically relevant initiative in which the Scholar is involved.

Scholar Network

Cultivating a growing network of principled and solutions-oriented Scholars who are having a demonstrated impact in their communities.

Curriculum & Logistics

Featuring course sessions led by distinguished professors and practitioners representing a variety of perspectives on leadership, the Presidential Leadership Scholars program comes at no cost to accepted participants.

The curriculum focuses on four core leadership skills: Vision and Communication, Decision Making, Persuasion and Influence, and Strategic Partnerships. Spread over six months, the sessions involve approximately 20 days of on-location instruction and interaction, coupled with pre- and post-module assignments and evaluations. In addition, Scholars form meaningful relationships with one another and learn from each other’s divergent views and backgrounds.


This six-month commitment, from January through June. During that time, participants meet for a five-day opening session, which is followed by one extended weekend per month at each of the presidential centers. The program concludes with a four-day session and capstone module. The four presidential centers are committed to ensuring that leaders across the country can participate in this program at no cost to the Scholars. Tuition, housing, meals, and travel during the sessions in the host center’s city are fully funded by contributions from our program supporters.


Session 1: Opening Week
Session 2


Session 3



Session 4


Session 5



Session 6: Closing Session



Advisory Committee

The Advisory Committee of the Presidential Leadership Scholars program contributes to the breadth and depth of expertise supporting this innovative education program.”

Alexis M. Herman, Chair

Chair and Chief Executive Officer, New Ventures

Joshua Bolten

President & CEO, Business Roundtable

Sylvia M. Burwell

President, American University

James W. Cicconi

Former Senior Executive Vice President, AT&T

Carlos M. Gutierrez

Co-Founder and Executive Chairman, EmPath

Tom Johnson

Chairman Emeritus, LBJ Foundation Board of Trustees

Thomas F. “Mack” McLarty, III

Chairman, McLarty Associates

Fred McClure

Executive Director of Leadership Initiatives, Office of the Provost, Texas A&M University

Constance Berry Newman

Member, Bush School Advisory Committee

Lyndon L. Olson, Jr.

Vice Chairman, LBJ Foundation Board of Trustees

Margaret Spellings

President and Chief Executive Officer, Texas 2036

Larry Temple

Chairman, LBJ Foundation Board of Trustees

Kenneth A. Hersh, Ex-Officio

President and Chief Executive Officer, George W. Bush Presidential Center

Bruce Lindsey, Ex-Officio

Counselor to the Chair of the Board, Clinton Foundation