Last week, Presidential Leadership Scholars from the past five years gathered in Washington D.C. to attend the 2019 PLS annual meeting. During the meeting, Scholars shared how PLS helped them become more effective leaders and why they think the program is unique.

What makes PLS different from other leadership programs?

How did PLS impact you as a leader?

J. Eric Wilson

Class of 2018

Other (not filled)

Eric Wilson is focused on issues at the intersection of education, work, and democracy. Seeing the need to renew our social contracts between government, business, and society, Wilson works with organizations and investors to advance new models in education that are relevant to the future of work and life.

During PLS, Wilson developed a new strategy and vision for Noble Impact, an education nonprofit in his home state of Arkansas. Through professional development, technology, and public-private partnerships, Noble Impact helps schools reorient their approach to career education, making it relevant to a world and economy that awaits students upon graduation.

Kelly Wolfe

Class of 2018


During her experience teaching elementary school in rural Louisiana, Kelly Wolfe saw first-hand how the lack of public health and education infrastructure was affecting the developmental outcomes of children. Because of this, she has spent the last 15 years working in public policy and legislative affairs and is now focusing her efforts on issues related to children’s health.

During PLS, Wolfe worked on developing and launching a public affairs campaign to educate people on the impact of social determinants of health and structural racism on a child’s overall well-being.


Adeeti Gupta

Class of 2019

As a board certified OBGYN practicing for over a decade, Adeeti Gupta works to change women’s health care to high-quality, compassionate and holistic care while promoting wellness in the truest sense. Through this effort, she founded Walk In GYN Care, the nation’s first Walk In Center for Women’s health dedicated to comprehensive care for women when they need it.

During PLS, Gupta worked to expand Walk In GYN Care across the nation so that all the women can get the much-needed care that is so seriously lacking. She is also actively involved in mentorship and women’s health education for physicians and mid-level providers.

Marta Michelle Colon

Class of 2017

Human and Social Services

Marta Michelle Colon is developing Gradum, a re-entry platform for Latinas. Gradum drives entrepreneurship in technology and social innovation through education and mentoring, which increases financial, emotional, and social possibilities and helps eradicate ineffective lifestyles and cycles of poverty.

Jamila Thomas

Class of 2019

Diversity and Inclusion

Jamila Thomas has been committed to youth empowerment for over a decade. Her work began in Chicago in the largest youth detention center in the country and ultimately began to cascade through the city of Chicago.

During PLS, Thomas developed collaborative action models to create solutions to address the needs of juveniles currently and formerly incarcerated. Through these specific models, she continues to identify specific factors preventing educational and career advancement to develop specific youth advancement opportunities.