Applications Open for Fourth Presidential Leadership Scholars Class

PLS offers participants the unique opportunity to learn from the experience and leadership of the four affiliated presidents and join a life-long network of nearly 200 Scholars from the business, public service, education, nonprofit, health, and military sectors.

June 1, 2017 — Today, the Presidential Leadership Scholars (PLS) program, a partnership among the presidential centers of George W. Bush, William J. Clinton, George H.W. Bush, and Lyndon B. Johnson, opened online applications for the 2018 class.

The executive-style education series is designed for leaders from diverse backgrounds who share a commitment to addressing society’s greatest challenges. By including a roster of presidential centers — two Republican and two Democratic — and by enjoying the engagement of former presidents from both parties, the program creates a rare opportunity to instill in Scholars a brand of principled leadership that transcends diverse backgrounds.

Presidential Leadership Scholars were joined by President Bill Clinton and Mack McLarty for a discussion at the Clinton Presidential Center in Little Rock, Arkansas. Photo by Grant Miller for the Presidential Leadership Scholars program.
“I believe we’re all equal and everyone deserves a chance. Everyone has a role to play and a responsibility. And, we’re better off when we work together.” — President Bill Clinton

Through the PLS program curriculum, participants have connected with some of the best minds in the study of leadership and benefited from the assets of the participating presidential centers and insights of the former presidents and people who served with them. In addition to Presidents Clinton and George W. Bush, Scholars also have had the opportunity to hear from speakers such as former First Lady Laura W. Bush; the Right Honourable Tony Blair; Senator Rob Portman; Governor Terry McAuliffe; former Secretary of Defense Robert Gates; former Secretaries of Commerce Don Evans and Carlos Gutierrez; former Secretary of Labor Alexis Herman; former Secretaries of Health and Human Services Donna Shalala and Sylvia Mathews Burwell; former Secretary of Education Margaret Spellings; former Chiefs of Staff Joshua Bolten, Erskine Bowles, Andrew Card, Mack McLarty, John Podesta, and John Sununu; former Counselor to the President Larry Temple; and more.

Presidential Leadership Scholars were joined by Secretary Sylvia Mathews Burwell, John Podesta, Mack McLarty, and Stephanie Streett for a classroom discussion at the Clinton Presidential Center in Little Rock, Arkansas; Secretary Carlos Gutierrez and Secretary Donna Shalala participate in a conversation with the Presidential Leadership Scholars at the National Archives in Washington, DC.; Spencer Geissinger, Dana Perino, Keith Hennessey and Meghan O’Sullivan participated in a Classroom Session with Presidential Leadership Scholars at the George W. Bush Presidential Center in Dallas, Texas. Photos by Grant Miller for the Presidential Leadership Scholars Program.

During the program, Scholars work on a “Personal Leadership Project,” intended to provide Scholars with the opportunity to both apply the skills and competencies learned throughout the program and help achieve the program’s ultimate desired outcome of increasing social good. Past Scholars have used their projects to help accomplish goals like improving our nation’s schools, supporting transitioning members of the military, bringing poverty relief to communities around the globe, and implementing practical business solutions to enhance public and private partnerships.

“It’s amazing what life will yield when you take a little risk.” — President George W. Bush
President Bush participated in a Classroom Session with Presidential Leadership Scholars at the George W. Bush Presidential Center in Dallas, Texas. Photo by Grant Miller for the Presidential Leadership Scholars Program.

The program seeks participants who have a diversity of perspectives, backgrounds, and experiences and who will most benefit from a dynamic learning experience that stresses the importance of cooperation and collaboration. The average Scholar enters the program with more than 10 years of professional experience and is generally at a point in his or her career where their participation in PLS will be felt for many years to come. Applicants should have the desire and capacity to take their leadership strengths to a higher level in order to help their communities, professions, organizations, and thus the country.

Scholars work on their Personal Leadership Projects during working sessions at The George Bush Presidential Library and Museum in College Station, Texas. Photos by Grant Miller for the Presidential Leadership Scholars Program.

The fourth PLS class will begin in February 2018. Online applications will be accepted through August 31, 2017. To apply or to learn more about the PLS program, please visit www.presidentialleadershipscholars.org.


The 2017 Class of Scholars continues to convene, and will conclude with a graduation ceremony on Thursday, July 13 at the Bush Center in Dallas, TX. To read firsthand experiences on what the program has meant to them, visit the PLS Medium, and for the latest updates, follow PLS on Twitter @PLSProgram.