Celebrating outstanding leaders was the focus of the Forum on Leadership April 18 – 20 at The Bush Presidential Center in Dallas, Texas, with hosts, former President George W. Bush and First Lady Laura Bush.
Internationally-recognized leaders from many sectors, including technology, politics, finance, entertainment, healthcare and education came together for three days to explore the essential need for leadership in society and discuss solutions to some of today’s most pressing foreign and domestic challenges.
Twenty guest speakers offered in-depth looks at leadership roles that navigate geopolitical issues, such as governing in a complex world, education, economic growth, veterans’ transition and the potentially devastating impacts of technological disruptions. Speakers from various fields included President Bush, Mrs. Bush, Bono and Ben Bernanke, former chairman of the Federal Reserve.
A highlight of the forum was the awarding of three prestigious leadership honors; The George W. Bush Medal for Distinguished Leadership, the Trailblazer Citation and the Military Service Citation.
The George W. Bush Medal for Distinguished Leadership is awarded annually to an individual who has impacted the global community, has inspired others to action and has demonstrated a commitment to improving lives.
Bono, lead singer of U2 and co-founder of ONE and (RED), received the inaugural medal for his humanitarian contributions in the areas of poverty and preventable disease.
The ONE Campaign, founded in 2004, is a coalition of 11 non-profit humanitarian and advocacy organizations. It fights extreme poverty and preventable disease, particularly in Africa, by raising public awareness and pressuring political leaders to support policies and programs that save lives and improve futures. Its worldwide membership includes nearly nine million people.
(RED) was established in 2006 to harness the power of people and companies to fight AIDS. To date, more than $500 million, with every penny going to work on the ground, has been raised for the Global Find that also targets tuberculosis and malaria with prevention, testing, treatment and counseling.
Jan Pruitt was posthumously awarded the Trailblazer Citation for inspiring a movement toward ending hunger throughout northern Texas. From organizing a canned food donations closet at her Methodist church, she went on to serve as executive director of Feeding Texas, previously known as the Texas Food Bank Network, and as the elected chair of the Feeding America national council.
Blayne Smith, CEO of Goruck and former executive director of Team RWB accepted the Military Service Citation. Smith is a veteran, having served as Special Forces Detachment Commander at 3rd Special Forces Group (Airborne) at Ft. Bragg, North Carolina.
Team RWB (Red, White and Blue) is a network of more than 200 local chapters across the country that organize thousands of local, consistent and inclusive events and activities for veterans, their families and their communities, enriching their lives and keeping them connected.
Highland’s Contributions to the Bush Center
The Bush Center, which opened in 2013, relies on its generous donors. Since 2012, Dallas-based Highland Capital Management has contributed more than $5 million and is one of the founding benefactors. Earlier this year, Highland President James Dondero established a $10 million endowment to sustain public programming.
“We are impressed by the Bush Center’s national influence and impact in our community,” said Dondero. “Events like the Engage series foster important dialogue regarding pressing policy issues. Highland Capital Management is proud to support this work and be part of the center’s long-term vision.”
Engage at the Bush Center, presented by Highland Capital Management, brings authors, thought leaders and newsmakers to the center for forums held throughout the year.
“As an early supporter of the Bush Center, Highland Capital Management has helped make the Center what it is today, and now through this major gift, Highland is making a special investment in its future,” said Bush Presidential Center CEO Kenneth Hersh. “We are extremely grateful to Jim Dondero for his commitment and look forward to continuing our efforts to bring thought-provoking programming and national newsmakers to Dallas.”
About the Bush Center
The George W. Bush Presidential Center is home to the George W. Bush Presidential Library and Museum, which is operated by the National Archives and Records Administration, and the George W. Bush Institute. The Bush Institute, founded by President Bush and Mrs. Bush in 2009, is a public policy center with the mission of advancing freedom by expanding opportunities for individuals at home and abroad. The work of the institute is inspired by the principles that guided the Bushes in public life. The complex is located on the campus of the Southern Methodist University in Dallas, Texas, and includes a 15-acre park, a full-service restaurant, Café 43, and a museum store. Visit bushcenter.org to learn more.