The Presidential Leadership Scholars tour the National Archives in Washington, D.C. Photo by Greg Mathieson for the Presidential Leadership Scholars program.

In February, the 2019 Class of Presidential Leadership Scholars (PLS) kicked off the fifth year of the program in Washington, D.C.

The latest class joins an active network of 240 Scholars who are applying lessons learned through the program to make a difference in the U.S. and around the world. Examples of these Scholar-led efforts include providing employment and mentorship to veteranshelping developing nations access safe anesthesia services for effective surgical careempowering women with economic opportunity through clean energy in Africa, and deploying much needed resources in the wake of natural disasters.

In D.C., Scholars had the opportunity to hear from:

  • Margaret Spellings, former U.S. Secretary of Education and former President of the University of North Carolina;
  • Alexis Herman, Chair and CEO of New Ventures LLC, and former U.S. Secretary of Labor;
  • Carlos Gutierrez, former U.S. Secretary of Commerce and Co-Chair of Albright Stonebridge Group;
  • David Rubenstein, Co-founder and Co-CEO of the Carlyle Group;
  • Sylvia Burwell, former U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services and President of American University;
  • Anita McBride, former Assistant to President George W. Bush and Chief of Staff to Mrs. Laura Bush, and current Executive-in-Residence at the Center for Congressional and Presidential Studies in the School of Public Affairs at American University;
  • Elise Stefanik, Congresswoman for New York’s 21st District;
  • Michael O’Leary, Professor at the McDonough School of Business at Georgetown University;
  • Keith Hennessey, former Assistant to the President for Economic Policy and Director of the U.S. National Economic Council, and Lecturer of Economics at Stanford Graduate School of Business;
  • Todd Connor, Presidential Leadership Scholar and CEO of Bunker Labs;
  • Minyon Moore, former Assistant to the President and Director of White House Political Affairs, and Principal at Dewey Square Group.
  • Holly Kuzmich, Executive Vice President of the George W. Bush Institute and Senior Vice President of the George W. Bush Presidential Center
  • Stephanie S. Streett, former Assistant to the President and Director of Scheduling and Executive Director of the Clinton Foundation
  • Dr. Mike Hemphill, Director for Academic Programming at the Clinton Foundation

Times change, but values don’t. No matter what we experience in our great country, we have to have a core set of values to motivate [us] to continue to do the work. –Secretary Alexis Herman

“Lead by example and be gracious when people are skeptical.”

-Congresswoman Elise Stefanik

Here’s what people are saying about session 1:

“Leadership is about believing in something bigger than yourself.”—Secretary Carlos Gutierrez

Over the next six months, the 2019 Class of Presidential Leadership Scholars will visit each of the four partnering presidential centers with unprecedented access to former presidents, their administrations officials, and the unique resources of the libraries to enhance their own leadership abilities in order to make a positive difference in the world. Look out for our next update from the George H.W. Bush Presidential Library and Museum in College Station, Texas!

To learn more about the Presidential Leadership Scholars program, visit For updates about the Presidential Leadership Scholars, use #PLScholars or follow @PLSprogram on Twitter and Instagram.